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Associated Press
12/12/2006 11:00:23 PM


ST. LOUIS (AP) - Peter Bondra scored his 499th NHL goal in his first game with Chicago and started a three-goal, third-period spurt by the Blackhawks that spoiled the debut of new St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray in a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Radim Vrbata had a goal and an assist in the flurry against Marek Schwarz, the Blues' first-round pick in the 2004 draft who made his NHL debut. Schwarz stopped his first 17 shots before the Blackhawks scored three times in a span of four shots over 2:04 early in the final period.

Christian Backman had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who have lost eight in a row and earned only one standings point in the skid. They're last in the NHL with a 7-18-4 record and 18 points.

They've also lost six in a row at home and folded in this one after a strong start under Murray, who got a multi-year contract Monday on the same day that Mike Kitchen was fired.

Doug Weight beat Nikolai Khabibulin on a deflection with 1:27 left to cut the gap to one.

The Blackhawks are getting the jump from new coach Denis Savard, going 5-0-3 since he replaced Trent Yawney, that the Blues hope they'll receive from their change to Murray. St. Louis has been outscored 22-9 during its home losing streak.

Schwarz, 20, got the chance to play because the Blues' top two goalies, Manny Legace (concussion) and Curtis Sanford (groin) are out. Murray's other big change in his first game was using veterans Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk on the penalty kill.

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