Wild spoil Tkachuk's return to Blues' lineup

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild have been working in
practice on completing the two-line passes that NHL rules now
allow. On Friday, it paid off.

The Wild scored a pair of goals via long lead passes that split
the St. Louis Blues defense, as Minnesota rallied with three
third-periods goals to win 5-3.

"This is something we do currently," coach Jacques Lemaire
said. "It's part of every practice, trying to hit the high man.
You've got more and more teams doing that now."

With the game tied 3-3 and less than 5 minutes to play,
Pierre-Marc Bouchard caught Mikko Koivu's long pass behind the
Blues defense and scored the winner. Bouchard added a power-play
goal with 2:25 to play, spoiling Keith Tkachuk's return to the
Blues lineup.

Dean McAmmond scored his team-leading eighth and ninth goals of
the season for the Blues, who led 3-2 entering the third period.

"We did some good things," McAmmond said. "We were pretty
solid in the first couple of periods, then had some breakdowns in
the third."

Tkachuk, who missed 15 games with a rib injury, scored a
second-period power-play goal for St. Louis, which has a
league-worst four wins.

After an uneventful first period, the offenses began clicking in
the second. Minnesota opened the scoring in the first minute of the
period when Wes Walz knocked in his own rebound after a center ice
turnover by Blues defenseman Bryce Salvador.

The teams traded momentum quickly in a 58-second stretch later
in the period that featured two Blues goals sandwiched around one
by the Wild.

Tkachuk finally got his first goal of the season after taking a
pass from Mike Sillinger in front of the Minnesota net.

Minnesota answered quickly when, after a long lead pass from
Brian Rolston, Marian Gaborik cut to the net and beat goaltender
Curtis Sanford low on the stick side. It was Gaborik's 100th career

"We talked in the pregame meeting about long passes and we
didn't seem to respect the long passes," Blues coach Mike Kitchen
said. "They're easy reads."

St. Louis again tied the game, this time when McAmmond scored on
his own rebound after Rolston's turnover at the blue line.

St. Louis led 3-2 after McAmmond took advantage of
miscommunication in front of the Wild net, poking the puck past
goalie Manny Fernandez. The goaltender looked prepared to cover the
puck, then left it uncovered for a teammate, allowing Jamal Mayers
to feed McAmmond for an easy goal.

Minnesota's Kurtis Foster tied the game early in the third
period when his shot through a crowd eluded Sanford's attempt at a
glove save. Bouchard's pair of goals gave Minnesota the 5-3 lead,
and he nearly got the hat trick, just missing an empty net goal.

"Obviously, we're happy we won the game, but I don't think
we're overly thrilled with the way we won," Walz said. "That team
should've been beaten in the first period."

Sanford finished with 24 saves and Fernandez improved to 7-3-1
with 29 saves.

Game notes
Minnesota assigned right wing Matt Foy to Houston of the
AHL on Friday. Foy had five points and 16 penalty minutes in 19
games with the Wild this season after being recalled by the team on
Oct. 1. ... McAmmond's multi-goal game was the 13th of his career
and his second of the week. He also scored twice in the Blues' 6-3
home loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday. ... Wild defenseman Willie
Mitchell was penalized in the second period for playing with an
illegal stick. It was the first such penalty assessed on the Wild
this season.