ST. LOUIS (AP) -Just when the door creaked open for the Canucks, T.J. Oshie and the St. Louis Blues kicked it right back closed.
Oshie had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win over Vancouver on a night when the division-leading Flames were handed a 5-0 loss in Columbus. A Canucks win would have moved them to within a point of their Northwest rivals.
Instead, the Canucks dropped their second contest on a five-game trip and face a tough Colorado team in a back-to-back match-up Friday in Denver. They’re three points back of the Flames, and two behind the fourth-place Blackhawks.
“Right now we are battling for a playoff spot and obviously we’d like to get home ice advantage,” said Alex Burrows, who potted his 25th of the year in the second period Thursday. “We’ve got to put this one behind us and focus on tomorrow because even though Colorado is last in the standings, they’re still a dangerous team and we have to make sure we’re ready.”
The Canucks led 1-0 early in the game on a goal by Taylor Pyatt, but lost their advantage in the second surrendering a pair.
“We wanted to play well, and we wanted to play hard, but I think once again we took too many penalties and that really gave them some momentum.”
The Canucks took three straight to finish the first and gave up back-to-back goals to Oshie and David Backes to a surging Blues side before Burrows pulled them back even.
St. Louis put the Canucks away breaking a 2-2 tie early in the third on a power-play goal by David Perron, then adding another off the stick of Andy McDonald in the final minute.
Vancouver finished 0-5 with the man advantage and gave up a shorthanded goal to Backes in the second while the Blues went 2-for-6.
“We had a good start, then the momentum shifted quite a bit and they took over the game,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “It was a very hostile, tough environment to play in and when you’re playing against an opponent that’s that aggressive and that committed, you need your four lines and your six [defencemen] going. The line between a win and a loss is so small that you need everybody going and tonight we didn’t have everybody going.”
Oshie, who was the clear difference-maker for the Blues missed the morning skate but fought off the effects of the flu turn in one of his strongest performances of the season.
His goal early in the second period ignited the Blues, and then he set up David Backes with a perfect pass for a short-handed goal that put them ahead 2-1.
He's the Alex Burrows of the St. Louis Blues right now. He was the clearly the difference-maker Thursday.
Not difficult to see why Scott Mellanby encouraged Mike Gillis to target this guy last July.
A goal and an assist, though Brad Boyes might have been a more of a presence.
"He's fun to watch when he's out there," Blues goalie Chris Mason said, "I'm glad he's on our side."
St. Louis, which moved to five games over .500 for the first time this season, has 79 points - one behind Anaheim and Nashville in the playoff race.
Mason stopped 21 shots for his first career victory over the Canucks in eight appearances. He played his 25th straight game and improved to 21-20-6 after a 3-13 start.
"This one is up there for me," said Oshie, whose first-period goal on Luongo was a highlight reel gem. "Especially at this time of the year and in this situation. I did that move in college. I just waited Luongo out."
Burrows tied it 2-2 with his 25th goal midway through the second period. Burrows picked up a loose puck during a scramble in front and muscled it past Mason.
Vancouver jumped in front 1-0 on a goal by Pyatt 4:15 in. Pyatt wristed a shot between Mason's pads for his 10th goal.
The Canucks are fifth in the West, two points behind Chicago in a race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"We were strong the first five minutes," Luongo said. "Then it was the Blues the rest of the way."
St. Louis (35-30-9), which is a season-high five games over .500, has 79 points - one below the postseason cutoff in the West.
“We have to make sure we have a third man high, we gave them a lot of rush chances, we turned the puck over way too many times tonight and that gave them some offence and that’s how they generated their speed and we’ve got to stay out of the box, those are the three biggest keys for tomorrow night.” – Alex Burrows
“That’s part of our job right now is to try and bring some energy to the team and we were fortunate we got a goal tonight.” – Kyle Wellwood
“Myself and Bernier just try to get in on the fore check and try to be physical and you see what Kyle can do with the puck when he has a little bit of time, he made a great pass and I was able to fire it quick and I beat him five-hole.” – Taylor Pyatt
Notes: Luongo made his 18th consecutive start for Vancouver. ... The Canucks are 17-5-1 since Feb. 1. ... St. Louis is 10-4-1 since Feb. 24.
1 - 0 VAN
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 STL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 STL