Canucks sing the blues
The Canucks game plan was simply to come up with a better effort than they did against the Wild and shut down Canucks killer Alex Steen.
The good news is they executed both of those to a tee.
The bad news is they forgot about a guy named T.J. Oshie, who accounted for two goals and an assist to pace the Blues past the Canucks in the teams' second meeting of the year.
Oshie, who grew up just across the border from Vancouver, in Mount Vernon, Washington never seems to have a problem getting up for games against the Canucks and it was evident tonight.
It all started with such promise as the Canucks came out with determination and got rewarded with two early gifts from the Blues.
On a harmless looking play early in the game, the Blues made a bad change which turned into Kevin Shattenkirk trying to reverse the puck up the boards but it was Alex Burrows waiting on the half-wall not a St. Louis Blue.
Burrows charged into the middle of the ice where he let a hard shot fly that Brian Elliott got a piece of but when it flew into the air Chris Stewart swatted it into his own net in attempt to clear the errant puck.
Oshie answered back with his first goal of the game just under a minute and a half later, and then put the Blues up a goal to start the second period.
Oshie, who had the second two-goal game of his career, was on the cusp of Roberto Luongo’s crease all night. He was able to get a couple of pucks past the Canucks' No. 1 netminder by crashing the net with purpose.
Vancouver's Ryan Kesler scored 23 seconds into the third period, swatting a puck out of mid air on the power play to tie the game on an effort that would have impressed the Cardinals in attendance.
But that didn’t last long as Backes put the Blues ahead for good with a second-chance effort off his own rebound. He was right in front of Luongo and poked his own rebound into the net, 5:59 into the third period to give the Blues the lead.
"Stay around there and keep digging until the whistle blows," Backes said. "It's no secret that's where goals are scored in front of that blue paint. You pay a price to get there, but that's where you need to be."
Luongo, who stopped 25 shots and made several big stops on the night, was incensed the whistle didn't blow after Backes' initial shot.
"I had it in my gear there for a while," Luongo said. "Backes kind of stuck his stick between my legs and jarred it loose and in.”
"Those are unfortunately the breaks of the game. Unfortunately, that was the difference tonight."
One man down
Alex Burrows went down with an upper body injury 3:31 into the second period after an awkward collision with Blues hulking forward, Chris Stewart.
Burrows had one of two Canucks goals Friday and played just 7:26 before the injury - significantly lower than the 17:44 of ice time he's averaging this season so far.
With a relatively injury-free career, Burrows played three straight 82-game seasons from 2007-2010 before missing 10 games to start the 2010-11 season with a shoulder injury - the first major span of time he's missed since becoming a regular in the NHL.
Official word on the injury is back spasms and he is listed as day-to-day.
Mixin’ and Matchin’
Alain Vigneault tinkered with every aspect of his team’s line-up tonight. Changing every forward line, every defensive pair but in the end it didn’t change the end result.
The forward lines consisted of Jannik Hansen skating with the twins, Burrows dropping down to the second unit with Kesler and Chris Higgins. The third line was Maxim Lapierre centering David Booth and Cody Hodgson. While the fourth line was made up of Andrew Ebbett and Dale Weise with Manny Malhotra patrolling down the middle.
Honoring the Champs
The blues paid tribute to the World Series Champs throughout the game hoping it would spur them onto victory much like it did earlier in the week with the St. Louis Rams, who won their first game of the season.
Well, it worked.
Not only did Cardinals World Series clinching pitcher Chris Carpenter make an appearance, but so too did Manager Tony La Russa and World Series MVP David Freese with their new trophy on hand for everyone to see.
The two Cardinal players in fact both have season tickets to the Blues and are former hockey players themselves.
Cardinal’s pitcher Carpenter actually joined the Blues at practice on Thursday and didn’t look that out of place, having played hockey in high school at a pretty high level until he decided to concentrate all his efforts on becoming a ball player.
“We were joking about it that maybe we could use him on the power play to help us out,” Alex Pietrangelo told NHL.com. “He seems like a pretty good player out there. He’s probably better at hockey than we are at baseball.”
Pietrangelo poking fun at a less than stellar power play to start the year, as the Blues are last in the league in power play percentage having only scored 3 goals on 38 chances, after going 0-2 against the Canucks tonight.
But in the end it didn’t matter because the Canucks were yet again out-classed on even-strength play.