St. Louis 4, San Jose 1

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ST. LOUIS (TICKER) —As Keith Tkachuk goes these days, so go the St. Louis Blues.

Tkachuk broke a tie late in the second period and extended his goal-scoring streak to five games as the Blues skated to a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, stretching their unbeaten run to five contests.

With six tallies in his previous four games, Tkachuk deflected defenseman Al MacInnis’ slap shot from just above the right faceoff circle past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov with 5:05 left in the second to give the Blues a 2-1 lead.

Pavol Demitra netted his fourth goal in six games late in the third period and Doug Weight returned from a two-game absence and ended a 28-game goalless drought with an empty-net tally.

“That’s way too long to go without scoring a goal,” Weight said. “I was getting sick of it. I can’t change my game or get too obsessed with that. I was contributing to the team, but it was getting to that point. I will be a better player for the team from now on.”

Rookie Jonathan Cheechoo scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who have lost three of their last four games and fell to 3-8-0 in their last 11 against St. Louis.

“We had a positive attitude tonight, we just didn’t do what we needed to do to get a win,” San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart said. “We have to quit finding ways to lose and find a way to win. Every night, we have a couple breakdowns, and teams are capitalizing on that. We have to keep working hard and stay positive.”

The win helped the Blues increase their lead over second-plae Detroit to five points in the Central Division.

“We’ll take any win we can get,” St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said. “I liked how we played, we played an almost perfect game tonight. We were doing all the right things, shift to shift. We were forechecking, getting to a lot of loose pucks and getting out of our zone good. We were in excellent defensive position all night. Our checking in the neutral zone was almost perfect. I think that was the key to shutting down their offense. It was a heck of a game to watch tonight.”

After Tkachuk redirected a shot off the right goalpost 3 1/2 minutes into the contest, Cheechoo gave San Jose a 1-0 lead.

Getting a feed from Mark Smith at the St. Louis blue line, the 22-year-old drove past defenseman Christian Laflamme down the left side before flipping a shot over the right pad of Brent Johnson at 9:42 for his second goal in three games.

The Blues, who have lost just once in their last seven (3-1-3) games, tied it at 3:09 of the second on Dallas Drake’s third tally in four contests.

Weight, who returned to action after suffering an ankle injury in Sunday’s All-Star Game, fired a shot from the top of the slot that went wide of the net. Standing at the right goalpost, Drake gathered the carom off the end boards and stuffed it into the net for his 14th goal.

“Through warmup, it was sore, but once the game starts, the adrenaline kicks in and you forget about it,” Weight said of his ankle. “Right now is as good as I’ve felt in a month.”

Moments after Quenneville gave his team a rest by calling a timeout, Demitra converted on the power play to give the Blues a two-goal cushion.

With Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan serving a holding-the-stick penalty, defenseman Alex Khavanov led a 4-on-2 down the left side before dishing to Demitra, who wristed a shot from the right circle between Nabokov’s pads with 5:06 remaining in the third.

Demitra reached the 20-goal mark for the sixth time.

“It wasn’t like I designed the play that scored the goal,” Quenneville said. “They said they were tired, so I said, `Call a timeout then.’”

Weight capped the scoring with his first goal since December 5, backhanding a shot into an empty net after replacing Drake on a line change.

“He jumped out there for me, so yeah, I was glad to see it go in,” Drake said. “We don’t worry about how many goals he scores. He’s our playmaker, he makes all of us better.”

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Goalie Team Shot Save
Evgeni Nabokov SJ 25 22
Brent Johnson Pit 17 16