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Blues Lose Fuhr for Playoffs

April 19, 1996 GMT

TORONTO (AP) _ The St. Louis Blues will have to play the rest of the playoffs without Grant Fuhr.

The goaltender injured his knee midway through the first period of Thursday night’s playoff game, tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament during a scramble inititated by Toronto tough guy Nick Kypreos.

The Blues, with Jon Casey in goal, went on to lose 5-4 in overtime, evening the first-round playoff series at 1-1.

``He (Kypreos) deliberately tried to make contact with him,″ St. Louis coach Mike Keenan said. ``He wasn’t pushed into him as everyone thought he had been.

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``In fact, our defenseman tried to push him away from the goaltender. But he made direct contact, that resulting in a season-ending injury to a very key and important player on our team.

Fuhr had been outstanding in the series opener, a 3-1 win for St. Louis.

``The No. 1 goalkeeper on any team in playoff hockey is paramount to the success of any team,″ Keenan said. ``There’s no excuse for it.″

Kypreos took issue with keenan, saying he was cross-checked from behind.

Keenan intimated going at Fuhr might have been in Toronto’s game plan. He was especially upset because the issue of running goaltenders had been discussed with John D’Amico, supervisor of officials, before Games 1 and 2. But D’Amico backed referee Paul Stewart, saying he called things correctly.

Fuhr had dislocated a kneecap on the same leg March 31, an injury that ended his streak of consecutive games at 76. He played 79 games in the regular season.

``He’s a great goalie,″ Blues star Wayne Gretzky said. ``He’s a great athlete. But I thought Casey went in and played pretty hard. But obviously we’re frustrated, disappointed that that happened to Grant.″

The game was scoreless when he left at 9:16 of the first period. The Maple Leafs went ahead less than a minute later when Mike Gartner banged a rebound past Casey.

Toronto scored on Casey again with 5:18 left in the period and led 3-1 after 20 minutes.

Fuhr was hurt when Toronto forward Nick Kypreos barreled into him in the crease. A scramble ensued and Fuhr was stuck in the net, his leg pinned under a mass of bodies.

He needed help as he headed to the dressing room, leaning heavily on his stick.

Ironically, the Leafs ended up on a power play after the incident, when Blues defenseman Chris Pronger received a double minor and Kypreos a minor. Toronto’s Mike Craig also got a misconduct.

Toronto defenseman Mathieu Schneider also had to leave in the first period, with an eye injury after being hit in the face by the puck.