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Hockey

War of attrition

Fuhr superb as Blues eliminate Coyotes 1-0 in overtime

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Posted: Friday May 21, 1999 12:57 AM

  Feel the Fuhr-y: Blues goalie Grant Fuhr makes one of his 35 saves against Keith Tkachuk and the Coyotes. AP

PHOENIX (CNN/SI) -- Pierre Turgeon extended the St. Louis Blues' season with a top-notch reflection and might have shortened coach Jim Schoenfeld's time in Phoenix.

The Blues completed their dramatic comeback from a 3-1 first-round playoff deficit by beating the Coyotes 1-0 in overtime of Game 7 on May 4, and advanced to the second round for the third time in the last four seasons. They begin their series with the Stars in Dallas on Thursday.

Turgeon had six assists but just one goal through the first six games. He got the only goal of the finale with 2:01 left in overtime, deflecting a shot by Ricard Persson from the left circle.

"When you're coming back from 3-1, it's tough, and you have to take it shift by shift," Turgeon said. "We played very well as a team, and we believed that we could come back, and now we're here."

The game seemed destined to end on a complex play, because both teams played well. Each killed four penalties and took 35 shots.

St. Louis goalie Grant Fuhr stopped everything for his sixth playoff shutout and 90th postseason victory, but Nikolai Khabibulin of Phoenix eventually couldn't keep up.

Phoenix outshot St. Louis 13-7 in the third period, but the Blues, who used Chris Pronger for more than 46 minutes and fellow defenseman Al MacInnis for 40, ignored their tired legs in overtime and outshot Phoenix 8-5.

"They've got a very physical lineup, and we paid the price to win, but we came out of it all right," MacInnis said. "We're a little bit tired, but no injuries, so we're all set."

The Blues face a rested opponent in the Stars, who swept their series with Edmonton and haven't played since April 27.

After Phoenix won twice in St. Louis, the Blues faced elimination with their next loss. But they won twice at Phoenix and once at home to make their second recovery from a 3-1 deficit this decade. They did it against Detroit eight years ago.

The Coyotes went deeper in the other direction.

The former Winnipeg franchise has reached the second round only twice in 14 postseasons dating to 1982, and never in eight tries since 1987. This was the third time this decade that the Jets-Coyotes blew 3-1 leads.

Schoenfeld said his job was on the line before the final game, but didn't discuss his future afterward, choosing to laud his players.

"I don't think you had to be at ice level to see that they left it all out there tonight," Schoenfeld said. "One goal makes a hell of a difference."

Center Jeremy Roenick, who missed the last two regular-season games and the first six of this series because of a broken jaw, returned to Phoenix's first line and special teams wearing a sturdy faceguard.

Thanks to a new dental-surgery technique that uses titanium plates rather than wires to hold the bones together, Roenick was able to play 20 days after Dallas defenseman Derian Hatcher shattered his jawbone.

Roenick's presence was noticeable in better penalty-killing - the Blues had a playoff-high nine power-play goals in six games - but the Coyotes lost defensemen Gerald Diduck and Keith Carney and left wing Greg Adams during the contest.

"We threw everything at them," Coyotes captain Keith Tkachuk said. "We battled through injuries, guys in and out of the lineup on and off the ice. We battled hard, but the end result is we lost three games in a row, and we're very disappointed."

It was the third overtime in the four games in Phoenix, with the Blues winning the last two.

St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville seconded Tkachuk's assessment about a series in which five games were decided by a goal.

"What a thrill to be a part of it," Quenneville said. "I commend the Phoenix Coyotes for a tremendous series. They battled right to the end."

 
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Pierre Turgeon's deflected goal sent the Blues home happy and to the Western Conference semifinals.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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