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Blackhawks win second straight game for Savard

Dec 2, 2006 - 4:23 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- The Chicago Blackhawks have shown significant improvement in new coach Denis Savard's short time behind the bench.

Martin Lapointe had a goal and an assist and Patrick Sharp set up two tallies for the Blackhawks, who recorded their second straight win under Savard with a 5-2 triumph over the St. Blues.

Since Savard - a Hall of Famer who played the majority of his career with Chicago - replaced Trent Yawney earlier this week, the Blackhawks have defeated the Dallas Stars and Blues at home for their third two-game winning streak of the season. They also have captured five of their last nine contests.

"We are playing with more patience and poise," Lapointe said. "Our passes are better and so (are) our breakouts. We are playing better with the puck."

"It's our offensive zone time," Chicago left wing Jeff Hamilton said. "Our defensemen are jumping up in the play more, and that is due to our new forecheck. We also have a lot of team speed now."

Chicago opened the scoring at 6:15 of the first period, when Hamilton recovered the rebound of Sharp's shot behind the net and lifted a backhander over goaltender Curtis Sanford, who went down with an undisclosed injury on the initial shot and left the game.

"After Sharp shot the puck, Sanford went down and I heard him screaming, so I knew he was hurt," Hamilton said. "So when I got the puck behind the net, I just went for a quick wraparound while he was down. That is a tough break for them."

"It should have been disallowed," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "The referee could see he was lying there hurt. It shouldn't have counted."

Manny Legace came in and yielded the Blackhawks' second tally just 18 seconds later. Tuomo Ruutu skated to the left faceoff circle, stopped and lifted the puck under the crossbar for his sixth goal of the campaign.

After scoring his first career tally Wednesday against Dallas, Tony Salmelainen netted his second with 7:46 left in the second period, one-timing defenseman Duncan Keith's pass from the slot.

"Two goals in two games," Salmelainen said. "I had a couple of other chances I could have buried, but I am happy to get that one. The most important thing is that we got another win."

Blue-liner Dennis Wideman and Bill Guerin scored third-period goals against netminder Nikolai Khabibulin to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 7:20 to play. However, Chicago sealed the win with empty-net tallies by Michael Holmqvist and Lapointe in the final minute.

"(Savard) wants me out there at the end of the game, with my experience," Lapointe said. "My pass to Holmqvist was just being strong on the wall and getting the puck out of the zone to him. (On) my goal, Sharp just made a great pass to me and I was wide open to score."

Khabibulin made 29 saves in raising his record to 7-4-0 for Chicago, which won its fourth straight home game.

"Khabibulin played great for them and they weathered our storm," St. Louis center Doug Weight said. "Give them credit. They hung on and buried the chances they had."

After replacing Sanford, Legace stopped 27 shots for the Blues, who have lost four in a row.

"Last night, I think we outplayed a team for (60) minutes and lost," Weight said. "Tonight, except for five minutes after that (first) goal, I think we outplayed them and we didn't win. Right now, the puck is just going in our net more than the other teams."

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