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Three goals in first 8:31 send Coyotes up 2-1 on Blues

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Posted: Sunday April 25, 1999 07:26 PM

  No can do: Coyotes goalie Nikolai Khabibulin made 34 saves, including one on this point-blank shot from the Blues' Scott Young. AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Phoenix Coyotes became the first team in months to make Grant Fuhr look his age.

The 36-old St. Louis Blues goaltender gave up three goals in the first 8:31 and allowed four on 10 shots before taking a seat as the Coyotes regained control of their first-round playoff series with a 5-4 victory Sunday.

"It just didn't go well," Fuhr said. "You can't make excuses at playoff time. It's a bad time for it not to go well."

Coach Joel Quenneville said he didn't know whether he'd go with Fuhr or backup Jamie McLennan in Game 4 Tuesday night in St. Louis.

"We'll think about it," Quenneville said. "Grant's been very good for us."

Louie DeBrusk, who didn't have a point in 15 regular-season games, scored two goals on two shots for the Coyotes, who will take a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 Tuesday night in St. Louis. Keith Tkachuk scored his first goal and point of the playoffs and Dallas Drake added his second goal and fifth point for Phoenix, which led 4-0 at 2:35 of the second period.

Phoenix, scoreless in the first period of the first two games, took only 10 shots the last two periods as the Blues played catchup. The Coyotes were outshot 38-18 and needed a strong game in goal from Nikolai Khabibulin.

"I'm not a big scorer, obviously," DeBrusk said. "You can look at my stats, they don't lie. The guys were joking, saying, `Go for the hat trick,' but I was more concerned with playing a sound defensive game."

Pavol Demitra and Terry Yake scored power-play goals in a 12-second span late in the second period for the Blues. Geoff Courtnall made it three goals in three power plays when he deflected a drive by Al MacInnis at 5:51 of the third to cut the gap to 4-3.

Shane Doan scored into an empty net with 50.8 seconds to go, which turned out to be a big goal after Blair Atcheynum connected for St. Louis with 14.5 seconds left.

Fuhr struggled early in the season, but was 9-4-3 with a 2.10 goals-against average down the stretch after recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. But this was the first time since his return that he tried to play on consecutive days, having manned the nets in a 4-3 overtime loss Saturday in Phoenix, and it was a disaster.

Drake scored off a drop pass from Stephen Leach on the Coyotes' first shot at 3:46 of the first, although Fuhr may have been screened a bit. Tkachuk converted a cross-ice pass from Robert Reichel on shot No. 6 at 7:19 during a power play. Fuhr tried to cut off the angle on another Coyotes rush at 8:31 but DeBrusk, who has 20 career goals in 297 games, slipped one past him on shot No. 7.

Fuhr was then benched in favor of Jamie McLennan, but for only 27 seconds. He was gone for good after DeBrusk beat him with an innocent shot from beyond the blue line that skipped beneath his pads at 2:35 of the second to make it 4-0.

Besides the quick two goals, the Blues' most entertaining moment came when McLennan abandoned the usual goalie practice of staying out of fights. He pummeled Reichel, necessitating a late rush down the ice by Khabibulin, during a dust-up that sent eight players to the penalty box at 3:48 of the second.

"Tkachuk got knocked into me and I fell on him and we were both down there," McLennan said. "I think he ended up coming up swinging at somebody and somebody gave me a bump from behind and then I don't know, it just kind of ended up getting silly."

Khabibulin said it's only the second time he's ever gone end-to-end.

"I just wanted to make sure we weren't outnumbered," he said. "I wasn't going to fight with anybody."

The Coyotes' lead has rendered moot both teams' finishing stretches in the regular season. The Blues were 6-1-2 and the Coyotes lost five of their last six, plus lost leading scorer Jeremy Roenick for the playoffs with a broken jaw.

 
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