Blues Blank Panthers


Hours after Geoff Courtnall's emotional retirement announcement, the St. Louis Blues gave him a nice going-away present.

With Courtnall and his family watching, Pavol Demitra scored two goals in a 1:04 span in the third period in a 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

"I wish I could have scored a third one for him," Demitra said. "It was a pleasure playing with him and I'm never going to forget him."

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Game summary

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  • Courtnall, 37, retired because of the lingering effects of a second concussion in less than a year. Many of his teammates cried during the news conference, and they awarded him a hard hat for gritty play in a brief postgame ceremony.

    "It was very emotional," Demitra said. "He's a great guy, a great teammate. We did this for him."

    Courtnall had a big smile at that news.

    "Ah gosh, that's great," he said.

    Roman Turek made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season and the third of his career as the Blues ended the Panthers' four-game winning streak in a game matching two of the NHL's stingiest defenses. Florida, which leads the Southeast Division, has allowed 45 goals in 19 games, and the Blues have given up 43 in 19.

    "Roman was great," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a great night for everybody."

    The Panthers had killed off 17 straight power plays before Demitra scored on a slap shot that appeared to deflect off Florida defenseman Lance Pitlick, then trickled past Sean Burke at 5:18. Robert Svehla was in the penalty box for pulling down Jochen Hecht, and Hecht got the second assist on the play.

    "It just hit me, and the next thing I knew, it was behind me," Burke said. "I went down butterfly style, and there wasn't much room. Somehow, he found what little there was."

    Demitra made it 2-0 on a breakaway at 6:22, taking a long rebound of a shot by Florida's Jaroslav Spacek at center ice and beating Burke from the side of the net. Demitra had five of the Blues' 15 shots the first two periods and has 10 goals, tying him for the team lead with Pierre Turgeon.

    The Blues missed a chance to make it 3-0 with 3:14 to go when Terry Yake's backhander was just wide on a penalty shot. He had been pulled down by Svehla on a breakaway. Yake had the Blues' last penalty shot, on Jan. 26, 1999, and also missed that one against San Jose's Steve Shields.

    St. Louis didn't have to wait long for another goal, though, as Michal Handzus' empty-netter made it 3-0 with 2:27 remaining.

    The Blues are 4-1-1 in their last six games against Florida, and 6-1-1 in their last eight home games overall.

    Both teams had to be weary after playing on the road the previous night. The Panthers checked into their hotel in St. Louis at 4:30 a.m. Thursday after beating Colorado 2-1 in Denver, while the Blues got home at 2 a.m. after a 3-2 victory in Toronto.

    "It was a grinder, getting greasy," Pitlick said. "They grinded us out and got the two points."

    Burke is 2-5 and has only one victory since opening night. The Panthers have been shut out in three of the losses.

    "It's tough not winning when the team is winning," Burke said. "I'd like to go out and feel like I'm contributing."

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