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Martin Havlat has goal, two assists as Blackhawks defeat Blues 5-1

Havlat had a goal and two assists Sunday and the Blackhawks snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 22 shots as the Blackhawks, 0-3-2 in their previous five contests, ended St. Louis' four-game winning streak.

Havlat, playing in his 40th game, improved his totals to 24 goals and 25 assists. He missed 22 games this season due to ankle and groin injuries.

"He was spectacular again," Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "He helps everyone else and he's fun to watch. He was all over the ice."

With Havlat in the lineup, the Blackhawks are 17-18-5. When he's out, they're 6-12-4.

With the NHL trading deadline set for Tuesday, Havlat is one of a few Blackhawks not on the block. He's in the first season of a three-year contract.

Although the Blackhawks seem hopelessly out of the playoff picture, Havlat is looking forward to a strong finish.

"There still are plenty of games left in the season," he said. "We'll take it game by game."

Before this one, the Blues traded forward Keith Tkachuk to the Atlanta Thrashers for forward Glen Metropolit, a first-round draft pick in 2007 and two other picks.

Duncan Keith, Adrian Aucoin and Bryan Smolinski scored in the first period for Chicago as the Blackhawks converted three of their first five shots against goalie Curtis Sanford to build a 3-0 lead. Patrick Sharp added a short-handed, empty-net goal with 3:16 left.

Sanford stopped four of 11 shots before being replaced by Jason Bacashihua at the start of the third period. Bacashihua stopped all five shots he faced.

Lee Stempniak scored for the Blues.

St. Louis also was considering offers for pending free agent Bill Guerin, who leads the team with 28 goals. He didn't use the trade as an excuse for St. Louis' poor showing.

"It shouldn't be," Guerin said. "We're all professionals here, and that's part of the business. You just have to accept it and move on.

"We have to play for the St. Louis Blues and we came out a little flat. It's too bad we got off to the start we did. We dug ourselves a pretty deep hole."

Guerin admitted he's been thinking about the possibility he'd be traded.

"That's been going on for a couple of weeks now," he said. "Time will tell and you can't make yourself sick worrying about it."

Still, Guerin was aware he might've played his final game with the Blues.

"It's different, but you just have to think of the other guys in the room," he said. "You might be moving on, but most of the other guys are still going to be here and it's an important game for them. You've got to get out there and give it a good effort."

Tkachuk had 20 goals and 43 points, second most on the Blues, in 61 games. He waived a no-trade clause. In 318 career games with St. Louis, he had 143 goals and 145 assists.

St. Louis also received a third-round pick in 2007 and a second-round pick in 2008 from the Thrashers. If Atlanta re-signs Tkachuk, the Blues will get a first-round choice in 2008.

Metropolit is expected to join the Blues for practice Monday.

Keith opened the scoring 6:07 in when his shot from the left point deflected off St. Louis' Ryan Johnson and past Sanford.

Aucoin made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 8:52 of the first. That was the Blackhawks' second power-play goal in five games and 19 chances. Chicago entered with the NHL's worst power-play conversion rate (11.6 per cent).

Smolinski extended Chicago's lead to 3-0 with 6:01 left in the period by jamming in a rebound of Tuomo Ruutu's close-in shot.

"It's a big game for us and we had absolutely no reason (to come out flat)," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. "We needed to be better in every position - coaching, goaltending, defence and forwards."

Stempniak cut it to 3-1 with 1:38 left in the second during a 4-on-4. Just 16 seconds later, Havlat made it 4-1.

The Blues, who finished last in the NHL last season, have settled into 11th in the Western Conference. They were 12 points out of the final playoff spot entering play Sunday.

Tkachuk was dealt one day after the rebuilding Blues re-signed defenceman Eric Brewer and goalie Manny Legace to multi-year contracts.

Notes: Legace sat out due to a lower body injury and is day-to-day. ... Chicago rookie D Cam Barker missed his second game because of a bruised left foot. Blackhawks LW Tony Salmelainen (hip pointer) missed his third game. ... Havlat's goal was his 24th in 40 games.


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