St. Louis 6, Phoenix 3

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ST. LOUIS (TICKER) Scott Mellanby enjoyed being mediocre. He didn’t mind scoring four goals in a game, either.

On the eve of a key Central Division matchup, Mellanby removed himself from a dubious distinction, scoring four power-play goals to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 6-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Mellanby held the record for most goals in NHL history without a hat trick, scoring 319 in 17 seasons before enjoying a career night. He tallied twice in both the first and third periods.

“I kind of enjoyed having that distinguishing fact that I scored more goals than anyone without a hat trick,” said Mellanby, who has 22 two-goal games. “Proves you’re mediocre for a long time.”

In his second full season with the Blues, Mellanby became the fifth player in the league this season to score four goals in a game and the first for St. Louis since Brett Hull on October 10, 1995 in a 5-3 win over Edmonton.

“He had one of those games where the puck was following him all the time,” Coyotes coach Bob Francis said. “The bounces were there. Have to give him credit. He puts himself in the area where he is going to give himself a lot of deflections.”

Mellanby scored four goals on as many shots. Three of them came on deflections, two on point shots by defenseman Al MacInnis.

“He battles all night long in front of the net,” MacInnis said. “You can’t say enough about Scott Mellanby and what he means to the team.”

Cory Stillman and Martin Rucinsky also scored for the Blues, who were 4-for-9 on the power play, completed a 4-0-0 homestand and moved within two points of first-place Detroit in the Central Division.

“It was a great homestand for us, was a big win for us, knowing that it is a huge game tomorrow with a chance to catch them,” Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. “The guys played hard, they played great. They played for one another.”

The Blues visit the Red Wings on Friday with a chance to tie them atop the Central Division. The division winner could end up with the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs, while the loser could be the fifth seed.

St. Louis will have left wing Keith Tkachuk back from an NHL suspension. All-Star center Doug Weight also might return from a broken bone in his face.

“We see a light at the end of the tunnel with some of these guys,” MacInnis said of the injuries. “We’ve been playing with some excitiment that we’re going to get these guys back.”

Rookie Curtis Sanford made 16 saves and improved his NHL record to 5-0-0.

Andrei Nazarov, Daniel Briere and Daymond Langkow scored for the Coyotes, who fell eight points behind the Oilers for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

The Blues scored the first three goals and never looked back. Mellanby made it 1-0 at 7:13 of the first period by tipping MacInnis’ shot past goaltender Brian Boucher.

Stillman doubled the lead with 5:38 left in the period and Mellanby made it 3-0 with 1:54 to go, one-timing Stillman’s cross-ice pass into the net while dropping to his right knee.

“We had the great start,” Quenneville said. “The power play was working and Mell had the Midas touch tonight. We got a lot more pucks to the net tonight, had a really good first 10 minutes.”

“You can win a lot of games in the first period, you can lose a lot of games in the first period. I think that was the case tonight,” Francis said.

After a scoreless second period, Phoenix scored twice in the opening three minutes of the third, but Mellanby completed the hat trick by deflecting MacInnis’ low slap shot past Boucher.

Langkow again got the Coyotes within a goal 9:18 into the third, but defenseman Drake Berehowsky was given a double-minor for high-sticking and Mellanby needed only 29 seconds to take advantage, batting a mid-air rebound behind Boucher.

“We took a four-minute penalty and they capitalized on it,” Francis said. “Obviously, that had a big impact on the complexity of the game.”

Rucinsky scored a shorthanded empty-net goal with 71 seconds left for the final margin.

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