North Stars 5, Blues 2
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) _ The Minnesota North Stars turned a disadvantage into an advantage Thursday night, and they did it quickly.
Russ Courtnall and Gaetan Duchesne scored breakaway short-handed goals 17 seconds apart in the second period to break open a tight game as the Stars coasted to a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
″You’re going to win or lose games with your power play or penalty kill, and tonight we lost a game with our power play,″ said Blues coach Bob Plager. ″You see it a few times a year, and it’s embarrassing.″
Jon Casey made 31 saves as the Stars held Brett Hull, who had scored nine goals in his last nine games against them, scoreless on four shots. Tommy Sjodin, Mike Craig and Mike Modano also scored for the Stars.
The short-handed goals, both due in part to miscues by St. Louis defenseman Jeff Brown, gave the Stars a 5-1 lead 3:14 into the second period. They completed a three-goal rally in a span of 1:43.
Nelson Emerson’s fluke goal 47 seconds into the second period brought the Blues within 2-1, but Modano answered 44 seconds later, igniting the three- goal rally.
″We came right back (after Emerson’s goal) and then the two short-handed goals really took a lot of energy out of the opposition,″ Stars coach Bob Gainey said.
With Todd Elik off for elbowing, Brown broke in from the point to pick up a loose puck. Craig Ludwig got to the puck first and poked it past Brown to Courtnall, who scored his first goal as a North Star.
″I saw (Ludwig) getting to the puck and I cheated and got behind the defense,″ said Courtnall, who was acquired in the offseason trade that sent Brian Bellows to Montreal.
Moments later, as Brown broke out the St. Louis zone, the puck slipped off his stick to Duchesne, who slid the puck under Hebert for a 5-1 lead.
″They are the same people who have been out there for three years,″ Hull said. ″There’s no excuse for that, and it’s about time they realized it.″
The loss snapped the Blues’ five-game unbeaten streak against the Stars, who scored nine short-handed goals all of last season.
Emerson’s goal was actually a centering pass that Minnesota’s Neal Broten inadvertently batted into the net. Brown scored the Blues’ other goal late in the second period when the Blues held a two-man advantage.