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Stempniak scores for second straight night and St. Louis beats Chicago 3-1

ST. LOUIS - Lee Stempniak knew it was just a matter of time before his goal drought would end.

The St. Louis Blues winger had gone 19 straight games without scoring and was stuck on one goal for the season.

The drought ended Friday, and Stempniak made it two goals in two nights with another in the Blues' 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.

"For me, I had a sense that it had been coming for a while," Stempniak said. "I felt like I had been playing good for three or four games leading up to (Friday)."

Enforcer D.J. King and Mike Johnson also scored goals for St. Louis, which won its sixth straight at home and for the eighth time in its last 10 games (8-1-1) overall.

"We knew we had to have a high work standard tonight," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "That was the message tonight was that we needed to outwork a hard-working team."

Robert Lang scored in the third period for the Blackhawks, whose two-game winning streak was snapped. It was his first goal in 11 games.

Former Blues goalie Patrick Lalime stopped 23 of 26 shots for Chicago.

The Blues passed the Blackhawks for second place in the Central Division standings with 31 points. Chicago has 30.

"In sixty minutes of play tonight, they had more determination then we did," Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "There's no secret about that. We just didn't handle their physical play and their pressure on us."

Stempniak gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 3:07 into the first period, slashing around Chicago's Jim Vandermeer before tucking a backhand shot between Lalime's blocker and right side.

"I had a lot of speed just coming around the side and it was a race to the far post," Stempniak said. "I was lucky I got the shot where I wanted it, slid it under (Lalime's) arm. He was leaning. It was good to get a goal in back-to-back games."

King gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead 4:13 into the second, when he beat went in on a 2-on-1 and fired a shot from the top of the right hash marks, surprising Lalime as the puck caromed between the Chicago goaltender and off the inside of his right leg.

Johnson gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead at 13:20 of the second period, drilling a one-timer top shelf over Lalime's glove hand when Keith Tkachuk found Johnson in the high slot.

St. Louis dominated the second period, outshooting the Blackhawks 14-3 as the Blues had the first 12 shots in the period. Chicago did not get a shot on goal until five minutes left in the period.

Goalie Hannu Toivonen's best save of the night came on a one-timer in the slot by the Blackhawks' Martin Havlat with 16 minutes remaining. Toivonen had 17 saves.

"The guys played so well," Toivonen said. "I didn't see many pucks until the end. It makes a job pretty easy."

Toivonen, who improved to 4-2 on the season, also made key stops in the third period on Lang twice and Patrick Sharp. Toivonen snagged Lang's wrister with 1:33 to play from just right of the slot.

"I thought he was pretty good," Sharp said. "I've seen him quite a bit. He's a good goaltender. He's very big. He covers the bottom half of the ice very well and he certainly made some big saves to win the game for them."

Notes: Tkachuk played in his 1,000th career NHL game Saturday, becoming the 224th player and the 28th U.S. born player to skate in 1,000 career games. ... St. Louis is now 14-0 when scoring three goals or more in a game. ... Blues LW Martin Rucinsky was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury. Rucinsky was injured while blocking a shot in a 3-0 victory over Calgary on Nov. 25. ... Chicago defencemen have scored 20 goals through the team's first 26 games this season. Last season, Blackhawks defencemen accounted for 21 goals over 82 games. ... Saturday marked the fifth straight home game in which the Blues did not allow a goal in the first or second period. ... Chicago had scored 11 goals in two previous games, both victories.


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