Originally created 05/18/98

Blues stay alive against Red Wings



DETROIT -- The St. Louis Blues avoided elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday, forcing Detroit's Sergei Fedorov to wait a while longer for his $12 million bonus.

Geoff Courtnall, Mike Eastwood and Todd Gill scored second-period goals and the St. Louis defense made them stand up for a 3-1 win over the Red Wings, who still hold a 3-2 edge in the Western Conference semifinal series.

Game 6 in the best-of-7 series -- the last in the NHL to be settled -- will be played Tuesday night in St. Louis with Game 7, if necessary, back at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night.

Fourteen teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 series, most recently the Edmonton Oilers over the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of this year's playoffs.

Fedorov, whose contract calls for him to collect a $12 million bonus if the Red Wings reach the conference finals, was not much of a factor. The St. Louis defense shadowed his every move and knocked Fedorov down almost every time he touched the puck.

The Blues, who swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, turned the game around with goals by Courtnall and Eastwood in the first 2:58 of the second period. Gill's power-play goal at 9:21 gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead.

Martin Lapointe finally ended Grant Fuhr's shutout bid with a shorthanded goal at 11:03 of the second. It was the only mistake by Fuhr, who faced a withering barrage of shots in the third period as Detroit tried to storm back. The Red Wings outshot St. Louis 30-23.

Detroit, bidding to become the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992, outshot the Blues 8-7 in the first period and seemed to be in control.

But the Blues, who scored 16 goals in their first-round sweep, came out with more determination and began swarming Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood right from the start in the second period.

Marc Bergevin, doing a nice job of keeping the puck inside the blue line, threw a long shot toward Osgood which Courtnall deflected high into the net on the goalie's stick side at 1:44.

Eastwood's first playoff goal went between Osgood's legs for a 2-0 lead at 2:58.

The Red Wings, who have eliminated St. Louis from the playoffs each of the last two years, got caught with too many men on the ice at 7:24 and Gill, from the top of the slot, blasted a slap shot past Osgood for his second playoff goal with three seconds left in the penalty.

Lapointe's third goal came off a feed from Steve Yzerman, who fought his way around two defenders and into the St. Louis zone.

Fedorov missed Detroit's first 59 games this season because of a contract dispute. When the Red Wings finally matched an offer Fedorov received from the Carolina Hurricanes, they paid him a $14 million signing bonus. His salary is $2 million.

The contract also contained a clause promising Fedorov a $12 million bonus if the team reaches the conference finals. If the Red Wings advance, Fedorov will be paid the money by July 1. Otherwise, it will come in installments spread over four years.