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Amonte's Hat Trick Powers 'Hawks

After putting the puck in the net three times for the Chicago Blackhawks, Tony Amonte thanked his new coach for putting him in the proper frame of mind.

Amonte scored three goals, including his 40th, to power the Blackhawks to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. Since taking over as head coach, Lorne Molleken has a record of 6-5-4.

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  • "Lorne has done a fabulous job and has taken a whole different approach from being an assistant coach. We're playing a lot better," Amonte said. "The guys are a lot more confident. Guys aren't afraid to go out and make mistakes. We've got plenty of people backing you up."

    Molleken replaced the fired Dirk Graham after the Blackhawks struggled through most of the season.

    "Lorne is not a guy who looks at any part of the negatives. He doesn't talk about the negatives. He doesn't want anything negative going on. He's a hundred percent positive and that has been the biggest change for us."

    Amonte scored two goals in the first period to give the Blackhawks an early 2-0 lead. Then he scored the clincher with a power-play goal in the second after the Blues had made it a one-goal game.

    It was Amonte's second hat trick of the season and sixth of his career. It also marked the second time he has scored at least 40 goals in a season.

    "Tony had a good day. He's had a good year," said Blues goalie Grant Fuhr. "If you don't pay close attention to him he's going to score goals.

    "They played a pretty spirited game. Unfortunately, they played better than us."

    The Blues outshot Chicago 37-16.

    "It kept looking like we were going to get (a goal) and turn it around," said Blues coach Joel Quennville. "We need better penetration to the slot. Usually it's where you get tips, screens and rebounds."

    Chicago took a 1-0 lead 53 seconds into the game when Amonte scored on a rebound for his 500th NHL oint. Amonte made it 2-0 with a slap shot from the left circle.

    "Amonte has been real good all along," said Molleken.

    Amonte had his 29th goal on Feb. 17 and didn't score again until March 10.

    "When I was stuck on 29, it just takes one (goal) to get it going. You never know. You go out there and try to shoot as much every night and hope they keep coming," Amonte said.

    Amonte appeared to have another goal at 10:58 of the first when his shot between the circles sailed into the net, but the goal was disallowed because Dean McAmmmond was in the goal crease.

    With the Blues holding a two-man advantage, they trimmed Chicago's lead to 2-1 at 7:24 of the second when Pierre Turgeon scored his 20th from about 20 feet out.

    Amonte then scored his third of the day with a backhander at 11:02 for his 40th goal.

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