Blackhawks not singing Blues after long-awaited victory

CHICAGO (AP) -- Radim Vrbata helped the Chicago Blackhawks end a couple of droughts on Friday night.

Vrbata scored two power-play goals in the first period and Chicago stopped an eight-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

His first goal also snapped the Blackhawks' six-game, 0-for-25 power-play slump.

"It was a big relief in the dressing room," Vrbata said. "We were really ready to get a win.

"It's not like we won the Stanley Cup," he added. "It's just one game. We got ourselves into a hole and we've got to get out of it. This is just one step."

Sebastien Caron stopped 24 shots in his debut in goal for Chicago. The Blackhawks signed him as a free agent on Aug. 8.

"I haven't played a lot this season, just three games at Norfolk (of the AHL)," Caron said. "The guys played terrific. They got to the pucks and took away the rebounds."

Chicago's Bryan Smolinksi fired a power-play goal into an empty net with 13 seconds left in the third period.

Injury-decimated Chicago hadn't won since defeating Montreal at home on Oct. 18, going 0-7-1 during the slide. Three of the Blackhawks' top players -- forwards Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus, and top goalie Nikolai Khabibulin -- are out.

On Friday night, the Blackhawks compensated by playing tight defense and scoring three or more goals for the first time since Oct. 21, a span of seven games.

"That's the way we're going to have to play to be successful," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said. "We we're responsible defensively, didn't panic and did our thing, and really kept it to the outside. They didn't get a whole lot on the inside."

Lee Stempniak scored for the Blues, who dropped their third straight and are 1-5-1 in their last seven.

"We can't be losing consecutive games like that," Stempniak said. "Right now, we're just not getting it done."

The Blues' Curtis Sanford made 15 saves, but was beaten twice by Vrbata from the edge of the crease in the first period.

"Once again we got off to a slow start," St. Louis coach Mike Kitchen said. "They get two power-play goals and we're down 2-0. I'm getting tired of that story."

Vrbata's goals gave Chicago a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

He opened the scoring at 9:33. Vrbata knocked in a loose puck from the left edge of the crease after Jeff Hamilton's high, weak shot from the right point struck Blackhawks' forward Tuomo Ruutu in the chest and the puck dropped to the ice.

Vrbata made it 2-0 with 2:07 left in the period. From the front of the crease he deflected in Hamilton's shot from the right point. Vrbata, who had played on a line with Havlat and Handzus earlier this season, hadn't scored in his last six games and had only one goal in his previous nine.

"I'm not playing any different than I was with Havlat and Handzus," Vrbata said. "Sometimes the puck doesn't go in and sometimes it's easy."

Stempniak cut it to 2-1 with 2:13 left in the second. In three game against Chicago this season, he has three goals and three assists.

Game notes
Caron played 26 games with Pittsburgh last season. ... The Blackhawks recalled D James Wisniewski from Norfolk of the AHL on Friday, but he didn't dress. ... Chicago LW Tony Salmelainen missed his fourth game with a separated shoulder. ... Blackhawks C Denis Arkhipov was struck in the left leg with a shot in the third and had to be helped off the ice. ... St. Louis RW Dallas Drake missed his second game with a sore foot. ... Blues D Dennis Wideman sat out his third game with a sore hand.