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Hull-Less Blues Tie Sabres 3-3

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The St. Louis Blues hung in there for a month while Brett Hull was sidelined with a broken hand. With the wait apparently over, they can't wait to get him back.

The Blues looked like they could use their star center after blowing a two-goal lead in a 3-3 tie with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, extending St. Louis' winless streak to seven games.

"We're running on thin ice right now," Blues defenseman Steve Duchesne said. "Everybody is nervous about making mistakes, and when we do the other team capitalizes. We need somebody to calm everybody down and get things going."

The key miscue against the Sabres came just five seconds after Duchesne gave the Blues a 3-2 lead with 5:29 remaining. On the ensuing faceoff, Buffalo rookie Vaclav Varada scored his first NHL goal on a two-on-one break with Michael Peca.

It was a bad time for an odd-man rush, but with the way things have been going for St. Louis over the last seven games, it was almost expected. The Blues are 0-5-2 over than span.

The Blues went 4-7-2 without Hull, who has been sidelined since Dec. 27 with a broken left hand. He is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday in St. Louis against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"He's going to help," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "You go seven games without a win and insert him in the lineup, it should give us some life. We can't count on him and sit back, but it's important for our team and something we need."

Darren Turcotte scored two minutes into the game and Geoff Courtnall gave St. Louis the two-goal advantage 46 seconds into the second period. Duchesne finished with a goal and an assist for the Blues, 0-5-2 during the streak.

Jason Woolley scored one goal and set up another goal by Alexei Zhitnik for the Sabres, who are 4-1-1 in their last five games. They can thank Varada, whose first NHL goal was a big one.

"It feels great," Varada said. "I was waiting for that for 13 games. I got one and hopefully I can get some others."

Matthew Barnaby had the best chance for Buffalo in overtime, but Jamie McLennan made a sliding save with 1:10 left. Al MacInnis was stopped from the slot by Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek with 5.5 seconds remaining.

Woolley brought Buffalo within 2-1 in the second period when he took Barnaby's pass from behind the net and beat McLennan with a wrist shot into the top corner. Zhitnik made it 2-2 in the third with a high wrist shot from the left circle.

The Blues had not had a two-goal lead since their last victory -- a 5-2 win over Calgary on Jan. 10 -- until Turcotte and Courtnall gave them a 2-0 advantage against the Sabres.

"We're disappointed that we let them tie it up," Courtnall said. "We've had a tough stretch, and we need a win. The effort was there. We just made mental mistakes at the end."

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