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Blues get rare win on the road

1/10/2003

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- While Keith Tkachuk scored the big goals
and Brent Johnson made the big saves, Barret Jackman did the dirty
work for the St. Louis Blues.

Tkachuk scored twice, and Johnson stopped 21 shots as the Blues
beat the slumping San Jose Sharks 4-1 Thursday night, but St. Louis
owed its victory to its rookie defenseman who wouldn't bite when
the Sharks wanted to fight.

Pavol Demitra added a power-play goal and an assist for the
Blues, who capitalized on penalties by the hotheaded Sharks to win
for just the second time in seven road games.

Though he had just one assist on the scoresheet, Jackman was
praised by his teammates for keeping his head under the pressure of
constant hounding from Sharks captain Owen Nolan. Eventually,
Jackman drew the penalty that led to the Blues' go-ahead goal.

"He's a tough kid, he really is,'' Tkachuk said. "He's good at
what he does, and he's got a lot of poise.''

Jackman, a rookie defenseman who has taken a big role for the
Blues during Chris Pronger's absence, won a first-period fight with
Nolan and landed several big hits on the boards. The Sharks'
notoriously emotional forward repeatedly prodded Jackman for a
rematch.

"The first time, I didn't mind fighting him, but after that, I
have nothing to prove,'' Jackman said. "It is tough, but you've
got to look back at your bench and realize you've got 19 other
guys. I feel most nights, I'm more valuable on the ice than I am in
the penalty box.''

Late in the second period, the Blues were handed a 5-on-3 power
play when Nolan punched Jackman in the face with a gloved hand, and
Scott Thornton smacked Jackman twice after the whistle. Tkachuk
needed nine seconds to score unchecked on a close-range shot,
snapping a 1-1 tie.

"Sometimes in the heat of battle, you lose your cool,'' said
Nolan, who racked up 11 of the Sharks' 23 minutes in penalties. "I
didn't realize Scott got called on it, too, but suddenly they were
working 5-on-3. We tried to play with emotion, and it backfired on
us.''

Scott Mellanby and Doug Weight each had two assists for the
Blues, who are two games into a five-game road trip -- their longest
of the season. Martin Rucinsky added an empty-net goal with 5.1
seconds left.

Vincent Damphousse scored his first goal in a month for San
Jose, winless in four straight during a disappointing eight-game
homestand. At the midway point of their season, the Sharks are in
12th place in the Western Conference, eight points out of the
playoff race.

In an eight-day span, the Sharks were emphatically beaten by
West contenders Dallas, Colorado and St. Louis. San Jose's
homestand ends Saturday night against Vancouver, though seven of
the Sharks' following 10 games also are at home.

"We tried a physical approach, and they got us,'' Sharks coach
Ron Wilson said. "They scored on a 5-on-3, and that broke us. We
seem to fall into these `Woe is me' modes.''

Demitra scored during a first-period power play, and Tkachuk
added another goal in the third period moments after another power
play ended. San Jose, the NHL's worst penalty-killing team, has
allowed 10 power-play goals in six games.

Meanwhile, the Blues have scored 17 power-play goals in their
last 12 games.

"We're pleased with our road trip to date, and our power play
is continuing to provide us with a lot of offense,'' St. Louis
coach Joel Quenneville said.

Evgeni Nabokov, starting for the 25th time in 26 games, made 27
saves for San Jose.

Damphousse ended a 13-game goal drought just 3:45 in when he
beat Johnson from the slot during a power play. It was just the
second power-play goal by the Sharks in 29 chances.

Game notes
St. Louis was 1-3-1-1 in its previous six road games. ...
LW Adam Graves, with eight points and a minus-9 rating in 41 games,
has been demoted to the Sharks' fourth line. ... Sharks D Jim Fahey
got his first NHL assist on Damphousse's goal. ... The Blues are an
NHL-best 14-4-2-1 when their opponents score first.