VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Manny Malhotra's first job usually is to prevent the opponent from scoring, so the Vancouver Canucks center really enjoyed picking up a key goal of his own.
After the Blues tied the game with two goals in the second period, Malhotra scored the go-ahead goal just 1:05 into the third to lift the Canucks to a 3-2 win over St. Louis.
"It's always nice to contribute on the offensive side of things, but more importantly we re-established the momentum we lost in the second period, Malhotra said. "It was the tale of two games up to that point."
Mikael Samuelsson and Sami Salo powered Vancouver to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Alex Pietrangelo, on the power play, and David Backes scored 74 seconds apart in the second. The Blues outshot the Canucks 11-4 in the middle frame, but a lost battle behind their net early in the third proved costly.
After a good forecheck by Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen, the puck squirted out front to Malhotra, who was alone to sweep it past Ty Conklin on the far side.
"I just wanted to get a quick shot," said Malhotra, a third-line center who has two goals and six points in his last seven games after going 22 games without a goal and 19 without a point before that. "It was a great job by Raffi and Jannik to create the turnover, a great forecheck."
Cory Schneider made 28 saves for the Canucks, who continued to alternate losses and wins for an eighth game. But Vancouver remained one point ahead of Philadelphia atop the NHL, and moved seven points up on Detroit in the Western Conference.
"For some reason we've struggled in the second periods at times and we were flat there after a good first," Schneider said. "We said let's get an early one and get back in the lead and play our game. Manny scored a big goal for us and that's what we do best is play with a lead in the third period."
Conklin, playing for an injured Jaroslav Halak, made 24 saves for the Blues, who have lost two straight after winning the previous three. They fell seven points out in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
"It didn't seem like we were a team playing for our season," forward Andy McDonald said. "We haven't been able to get that life, get that emotion and get that fire and it was evident tonight. We just didn't have it and obviously that's not going to be acceptable if you want to get in the postseason."
The Blues are 24 points behind the Canucks but had beat them twice and are among just five teams to win in Vancouver this season. The Canucks seemed determined to make sure it didn't happen again, especially early.
Samuelsson opened the scoring midway through the first on a setup from Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The assist extended Daniel's lead in the NHL scoring race with 79 points - two more than Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos - while Henrik's helper left him third with 74.
Salo made it 2-0 with a blast from the top of the faceoff circle - his first goal since late last season after missing the first four months recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in July.
"A lot of hard work since July and it felt good," Salo said. "Another small step towards trying to get back to the game I played before I was injured."
Pietrangelo had an empty net on the power play 6:27 into the second period after a perfect cross-crease pass from McDonald, and a couple shifts later Backes wired a slap shot past Schneider. But T.J. Oshie rang a shot off the crossbar a minute later and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk hit the post with four minutes left in the period before Malhotra put Vancouver back in front.
"You need a little help and fortunately I got some," Schneider said.
NOTES: St. Louis D Nikita Nikitin left with a lower body injury in the first period. ... Halak missed a fifth game with a bruised right hand, but is on this three-game road trip, which continues in Edmonton and Calgary. Blues LW David Perron, out since Nov. 4 with a concussion, also made the trip but will stay in Vancouver to work with a chiropractor that specializes in head injuries.
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