- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2002

ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Blues are alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs thanks to their No.1 line, a less-heralded group than the Detroit Red Wings' All-Star lineup but every bit as productive.
The trio of Keith Tkachuk, Pavol Demitra and Scott Mellanby combined for five goals and four assists in the surprising 6-1 Game 3 blowout that cut the Red Wings' lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1 heading into Game 4 tonight.
"They're everywhere out there," goalie Brent Johnson said. "The whole team is playing well, but that line's just on fire."
Tkachuk got his first career playoff hat trick, Demitra had a goal and three assists to hike his team-leading playoff total to 11 points, and Mellanby had his sixth goal of the playoffs and third in two games plus an assist.
The big game from the big line came a day after Mellanby sounded off about media criticism that the Blues perhaps were in awe of the Red Wings, who have won 23 Stanley Cups.
The Tkachuk-Demitra-Mellanby line has 14 goals and 14 assists in the playoffs. The Red Wings' top line of Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman has seven goals and 18 assists.
"Hey, listen, they've got guys with a lot of Stanley Cup rings over there, and guys who if you voted today, they're in the Hall of Fame," Mellanby said. "I think we've got guys who are going to be in the Hall of Fame, too. We feel we're built to take a shot at the Cup, and we know they are."
Mellanby and Tkachuk are both bangers who clear space for Demitra, a sniper who was second on the team with 35 goals in the regular season.
"I've always felt like I have to go to the net, and with Tkachuk I can't get to the net first," Mellanby said. "It's not going to work if we're bashing into each other."
Mellanby and Tkachuk each scored on the power play, giving life to a unit that entered the game 0-for-9 in the series. Mellanby's goal on a 5-on-3 advantage put the Blues ahead to stay at 2-1 in the final minute of the first period, and Tkachuk deflected a Chris Pronger slap shot to make it 3-1 at 17:22 of the second.
"We've known all along that they have some big penalty-kill guys and a great power play and they were able to get it clicking," Red Wings forward Darren McCarty said. "We've got to do a better job of staying out of the box."
As effective as the No.1 line has been, the Blues want more production from the other three lines. Fourth-line winger Jamal Mayers got the final goal in Game 3.
"We expect to get a little more of a balanced contribution," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We've been relying on that line on a regular basis and we hope they can sustain it, but we'd like to see some other guys score."
Doug Weight, the Blues' biggest offseason pickup, has been an unlikely linemate of Mayers. He's still bothered by a sore pelvis, which limits mobility and acceleration.
"This isn't a shoulder injury," Weight said. "You don't just go out and be the same player."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide