Saturday, January 10, 2009

Canucks Slip Up Against Blues Friday

In what was without question their worst performance on home ice this season, the Canucks let a pair of valuable points slip away at GM Place. Despite having the game on even terms with just over two minutes to go in the game, the Canucks wound up dropping a 6-4 decision against the struggling St. Louis Blues.

Although the club did have a lack-luster start to the game, Vancouver did hold a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Jannik Hansen opened the scoring with a bullet of a snap shot from high in the slot that made its way over the shoulder of goalie Manny Legace and off the cross bar. Hansen, who had only scored one goal in his last 29 games, collected his 5th of the campaign. Willie Mitchell and Mattias Ohlund get the assists at 9:52.

David Backes got the Blues on the scoreboard late in the period by depositing a rebound given up by Jason LaBarbera. Backes tallied his 13th of the year at 16:44. The game wouldn't stay tied for long though as in the final minute, Mitchell was able to convert on a back-handed chance from the right face off circle. Mitchell, who hadn't scored in 25 games, picked up his 2nd of the season as Daniel and Henrik Sedin chipping in the helpers with 13 seconds left in the period.

The middle period, which has been the most offensive period of the year for the Canucks, was anything-but on this night. The Blues came out flying and had the home team on their heels. Vancouver turned the puck over numerous times and made them pay with two late goals. Rookie forward Patrik Berglund scored his 13th of the season with two minutes left on the clock and then Alex Steen tipped in a pass from veteran Keith Tkachuk for his 6th of the year with 61 seconds before the intermission.

Mitchell did give the home team a lift in the early part of the final period as his shot from long range deflected of a St. Louis d-man and behind Legace. Mitchell, posting his first career three-point effort of his career, netted his unassisted goal at 1:37.

Poor defensive coverage in the Canucks zone led to the Blues getting the lead back as T.J. Oshie slid home a rebound past LaBarbera at 14:17. Just over a minute after that, the visitors were dinged with a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Vancouver was able to get the equalizer as Daniel deflected home a point shot from Kevin Bieksa. Henrik collects the other helper on Daniel's team-leading 20th of the year at 15:47.

Mats Sundin, making his home debut in a Canucks jersey, wound up taking a slashing penalty with two and a half minutes left in the game. 20 seconds later, the Blues took the lead on the power play and never looked back. Brad Boyes snapped home a shot from the left face off circle for his 11th power play marker of the season. It was also his 19th of the year.

Before the Canucks had a chance to get LaBarbera to the bench for the extra attacker, the Blues got the insurance goal they needed as B.J. Crombeen notched his 9th of the campaign at 18:11 to cap off what turned out to be just the 7th road win of the season for the Blues.

The Canucks were badly out-shot in this game as St. Louis led that department 36-22. Vancouver wound up going 1-for-2 on the power play while the Blues finished the game 1-for-5.

Vancouver (22-16-5) won't have a lot of time to worry about their poor performance as the top team in the Western Conference comes to GM Place for the first time this season. The San Jose Sharks, who blanked the Canucks 5-0 on December 23 in California, will face the Canucks Saturday night. Game time is 7:00pm PST.

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