ST. LOUIS -- The road-weary Vancouver Canucks found a way, even after playing the previous night and facing a team waiting a week ready to attack like a pack of wolves.
The Canucks were a tired bunch; they were playing their NHL-high 13th game of the season and fifth in seven days. The St. Louis Blues were playing only their eighth game of the season and first since a shootout loss on the road against the Winnipeg Jets a week ago.
But the Canucks were the team that came out engaged early Friday night and set the tempo, got tired as the game progressed but counted on one of their key forwards to come through in the end. Ryan Kesler's second goal of the game with 14.7 seconds left in overtime gave the Canucks a 3-2 victory against the Blues at Scottrade Center, capping off a 5-1-1 trip.
Kesler popped in a rebound from in front of Jaroslav Halak after the Canucks were given a power play with 33.6 seconds remaining when Patrik Berglund was called for hooking Daniel Sedin in the Blues' zone. Kesler was able to coral Sedin's initial shot at the top of the crease before knocking a backhander high over Halak.
"Danny took a shot and it kind of went up in the air and I kind of knocked it down and knocked it in," Kesler said. "Easy. We needed that. Our power play won us the game tonight.
"We've been playing well and I can always improve. I'm going to keep riding it. This trip has really helped me a lot."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was asked if the call late in the game was upsetting since there was a potential non-call on a play involving Alex Pietrangelo. Hitchcock's concerns he displayed earlier in the week were what came to fruition.
"I'm not going to comment on the decisions at the end of the game, both ways," Hitchcock said. "The penalty on Berglund and the non-call on [Pietrangelo] ... decisions are made. That's not my concern. The concern was the first 35 minutes ... weren't very good, weren't engaged. We got a couple good shifts by [Ryan] Reaves and [Chris] Stewart that got us back into the hockey game. We were just dis-engaged, throwing our sticks on the ice and just playing."
The road-weary Canucks have won three in a row; two in overtime and one in a shootout. They go home for three games before heading back on the road for four.
"Throughout the trip, we won in different ways," said Canucks coach John Tortorella, whose team improved to 8-4-1. "We kept our composure.
"Day by day, it's a really good trip but you need to flat-line it here and just stay within ourselves and just keep on working as a team."
Chris Higgins also scored for the Canucks and Eddie Lack, making his third career start, stopped 22 shots. Lack played after Roberto Luongo beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday.
"It was good for me. It's the best team I've played so far," said Lack, who improved to 2-1-0. "It builds my confidence. I'm happy I can help the team get some points."
But the Blues (5-1-2) were lamenting the fact they allowed a point to get away for the second game in a row. They lost the shootout in Winnipeg after squandering a 3-1 third-period lead, then failed to take advantage of a tired team Friday.
"It's unacceptable," captain David Backes said. "They're a team that played last night, which we knew they were going to be ready to go. They don't even get time to think about it and they're right into the game and we had a week off. We can't start slow, we can't dig holes like that and expect to be able to dig out.
"We found a way 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 to get back in the game. ... We just need a full, better effort from all 20 guys for a full 60 minutes in order to win games. Tomorrow we've got another tough test from a team that's hot as well."
The Canucks got on the board first when Higgins' wrister from the top of the left circle deflected off the skate of sliding defenseman Roman Polak and into the top right corner at 17:11 of the opening period.
It became 2-0 when Vancouver took advantage of a Shattenkirk turnover behind his net. He was picked off by Mike Santorelli, who fed Kesler in the slot for a quick snap shot past Halak 9:34 into the second period.
"[Jaden Schwartz] tried to make a pass to me behind the net so I can take it out the weak side," Shattenkirk said. "Someone got a piece of it and it came a little slow. I tried to force a pass through the middle, which is a poor mistake.
"I probably should have just eaten it behind the net. At that point, you've just got to cut your losses. I was trying to make something out of nothing. I'm not too happy about my decision there and obviously the way that it ended up."
But the Canucks' tired legs finally caught up to them a bit late in the second when Zack Kassian (charging) and Kevin Bieksa (hooking) took penalties that gave the Blues a two-man advantage for 1:28.
Steen made it 2-1 with 6.4 seconds left in the second when he ripped a one-timer from the slot past Lack. Steen's eight goals have come in eight games; he had eight in 40 games last season.
Sobotka tied it 1:38 into the third period, two seconds after Bieksa's penalty expired, when he took a feed from Steen and snapped a shot through Lack from the right circle. That goal snapped a streak of 179:10 since someone other than Steen or David Backes scored for the Blues. Polak's goal with 7:32 left in the third period of a 6-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks came four games ago.
"It is a week, but we discussed it before the game. There's no excuse for not coming out harder than we did, but as the game progressed, I thought we got into it more and started taking over," Steen said. "They kind of got us back a little bit in the third, but we kept coming. We had our fair share of chances to win the game. ... We've got nobody to blame but ourselves. Now we regroup and head to Nashville."
Whether they want to go home or not, the Canucks will head back to British Columbia. But after winning their sixth in nine games away from Rogers Arena, they may want to keep their bags packed.
"The way we battled, a lot of guys stepped up," Daniel Sedin said. "We battled for every puck. That's the difference from losing to winning in many cases. A lot of good things will come from this trip."
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