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Bondra scores first of season, 499th of career; Blackhawks beat Blues 3-2

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Bondra scores first of season, 499th of career; Blackhawks beat Blues 3-2

The Canadian Press
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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.

Bondra, a five-time all-star who signed a free-agent deal with the Blackhawks on Sunday, scored in his first goal of the season during a 5-on-3 power play at 3:22 of the third. Vrbata got his sixth with another man-advantage goal 30 seconds later, beating Schwarz between the pads from the left circle.

Jeff Hamilton scored his sixth of the season on a one-timer from the slot at 5:26.

Backman scored on a rebound during a power play at 15:18 of the second period to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. Khabibulin, starting for the 12th time in 13 games, made 19 saves.

Notes: Martin Rucinsky has an assist in each of the last four games for St. Louis. ... Schwarz was the Blues' first first-round pick to play in an NHL game since Backman in 2003. ... Vrbata has four goals and three assists in five games against the Blues.

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Bondra scores first of season, 499th of career; Blackhawks beat Blues 3-2