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New Oilers Markkanen, Nedved big factors

3/4/2004

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chris Osgood is back to being stingy. Too bad
the St. Louis Blues haven't been able to score for him.

Osgood made 31 saves, including a penalty shot by Ryan Smyth, to
help the Blues tie the Edmonton Oilers 1-1 Thursday night.

"Ozzie held the fort," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "He
held strong for us. When he's playing like that, we should win a
lot of games."

Instead, the Blues earned only their second point in five games
under new coach Mike Kitchen. They're 0-3-2 in that span, totaling
five goals and getting shut out twice, and 0-5-2 in their last
seven overall.

Osgood has allowed only one goal in two recent games.

"The last five games I've probably played better than I did at
the start of the year, but I've got no wins," Osgood said. "It's
kind of weird. I just try to stop it and let the guys do their
thing."

St. Louis stayed two points ahead of the Oilers, their closest
pursuer on the fringe of the Western Conference playoff race. The
Blues entered the night in ninth place, four points behind Los
Angeles for the final spot.

Alexander Khavanov ended a 62-game goal drought early in the
third period for the Blues, and Raffi Torres got his 19th for the
Oilers to force overtime. Petr Nedved had an assist in his first
game with Edmonton since being acquired from the New York Rangers.

Osgood was at his best in regulation, while Jussi Markkanen,
also obtained from the Rangers on Wednesday, stopped eight shots in
overtime for Edmonton. Dallas Drake hit the post with 4:05 to go
for St. Louis.

"I thought we played very well for most of the 60 minutes,"
Markkanen said. "Towards the end we got a little tired and their
skilled guys got more room and they were able to get some
chances."

The highlight of the first two periods was Smyth's unsuccessful
penalty shot, the first of his career, at 7:45 of the second. He
got it after Pronger threw his stick trying to stop a breakaway.
Smyth blocked Pronger's shot from the point on the opposite end,
then broke free.

Osgood made a somewhat routine save on Smyth's low backhander to
preserve the scoreless tie.

"I had my move in my mind right away but he followed me all the
way and I didn't freeze him enough," Smyth said. "I was a little
nervous, that being my first penalty shot."

Khavanov's first goal since Feb. 13, 2003, put the Blues ahead
at 1:42 of the third. Khavanov was activated earlier Thursday after
missing 15 games with a bruised ankle, and his offensive instincts
helped when he pinched and was alone for the rebound of a shot by
Pavol Demitra.

Torres' second goal in three games tied it at 8:31. The goal
came at the end of a flurry of shots against Osgood.

Game notes
Blues C Mike Sillinger, acquired Thursday for G Brent
Johnson, is expected to join the team Saturday when the Blues play
at the Islanders. ... Blues GM Larry Pleau said Pronger will not be
traded despite the team's woes. It's expected that the Blues will
qualify Pronger at $9.5 million when his contract expires this
summer. ... This was the first game of a three-game trip for the
Oilers. ... Smyth had five shots in the first two periods. Doug
Weight had five shots for the Blues.