Blues lose Game 4, Pronger ... series?


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Dominik Hasek was back on his game, and the
Detroit Red Wings needed his best.

Hasek rebounded from a lopsided loss, turning aside early and
late flurries as the Red Wings took command of their second-round
playoff series against the St. Louis Blues with a 4-3 victory on
Thursday night.

"I felt good the whole game," Hasek said. "It was a very good
game for us except for the last few minutes."

The Red Wings, who have a 3-1 series lead, can wrap the series
up Saturday in Detroit.

"We're certainly up against it," Blues coach Joel Quenneville

The Blues' prospects for the game -- and now, the series -- took a
devastating hit when defenseman and captain Chris Pronger sustained
a torn right knee ligament midway through the first period.
Pronger, who has been averaging more than 30 minutes a game, is out
for the rest of the season.

"He landed on his knee," Quenneville said. "Those things
happen. It's unfortunate."

Hasek was yanked in Game 3 after giving up five goals on 16
shots in a 6-1 loss. The Blues tried to keep up the pressure again
Thursday with a 10-0 shots advantage in the first five minutes.
That included a power-play goal by Scott Young, the Blues' third
with the man advantage the last two games after going 0-for-9 the
first two games.

"We threw everything at him," forward Keith Tkachuk said. "He
came up big for them."

Pronger was hurt at 10:20 of the first period during a collision
with Detroit's Steve Yzerman, toppling over him and landing
awkwardly. Pronger then took a frustration cross-checking penalty
before limping to the dressing room instead of the penalty box.

"He's the best defenseman in the NHL, so you can decide what he
means to us," center Doug Weight said. "When he has the puck,
he's very poised and he makes everybody around him better."

After that -- until a frantic finish -- it was all Red Wings.

Brendan Shanahan, Jiri Fischer and Tomas Holmstrom scored for
Detroit, which led 2-1 after the first period and 3-1 after two
while the Blues managed only seven shots in a 35-minute span.
Yzerman added a third-period power-play goal for a 4-1 lead off a
giveaway by goalie Brent Johnson, who cleared the puck right to him
at 3:03.

The Red Wings negated the Blues' No. 1 line of Keith Tkachuk,
Pavol Demitra and Scott Mellanby in the early going. They also
scored both of their first-period goals against that line, which
has 14 goals and 14 assists in the postseason and got a hat trick
from Tkachuk in Game 3.

But the Blues threw in a late scare with goals by Mellanby and
Tkachuk in the final 2:54, both with the goalie pulled.

"It got a little panicky there at the end of the game," Hasek
said. "We held on and that is what is important."

Mellanby scored his seventh goal of the playoffs with 2:54 to go
on a power play that became a two-man advantage after Johnson was
pulled, cutting the gap to two goals. The goal wasn't allowed until
the first stoppage in play, which came when Mellanby put the puck
in net again with 2:33 to go, but the clock was re-set to the time
of the first goal.

Tkachuk made it 4-3 with 1:30 to go. But the Blues got off only
one shot the rest of the way, a slap shot from center ice by Al
MacInnis with five second to go that Hasek stopped.

The Red Wings contributed to the Blues' fast start with three
penalties in the first five minutes, and St. Louis scored first for
the second straight game in the series on Young's third goal of the
playoffs at 4:24 during a 5-on-3 advantage. Young converted a
one-timer from Pronger on the fourth shot of the power play.

Detroit finally got its first shot, by Shanahan, at the
six-minute mark. Then Shanahan scored his second goal of the
playoffs as the trailer on a break with Darren McCarty at 13:33 to
tie it, getting behind the Blues' defense and converting a backhand
feed from behind the net.

The Red Wings took the lead when Fischer threaded a shot from
the point through a crowd in front of the net at 16:05. Johnson
took a stick to the mask as the puck sailed by him.

Holmstrom made it a two-goal lead at 2:35 of the second, scoring on the Red Wings' first shot of the period. Johnson vacated the crease to confront Mathieu Dandenault on a rush and Holmstrom had an empty net after taking a cross-ice pass.

Game notes
The Red Wings scored for the first time in the playoffs after giving up the game's first goal. ... Red Wings second-line C Igor Larionov was scratched with a leg injury that forced him out of the third period of Game 3. Larionov, who has two goals and three assists in the playoffs, was replaced by C Jason Williams, who played in his fifth game. ... Yzerman also had an assist on Detroit's second goal, giving him 164 points in 164 career playoff games. ... The last time a team won a game by five or more goals and didn't win the series was 1997, when Colorado beat Detroit 6-0 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals but lost the series in seven games.