|STL||1||0||1||(0 - 0)||2|
|VAN||1||0||2||(0 - 0)||3|
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Canucks forward Mason Raymond keyed a strong night for the second line and sent Vancouver fans home happy.
The good memories will have to last a while.
Raymond scored his second goal of the game early in the third period, and assisted on Christian Ehrhoff's sharp-angle power-play goal with 7:48 left to give the Canucks a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.
Second-line center Ryan Kesler assisted on all three goals for the Canucks, who swept a four-game homestand and lead the NHL with 47 points (23-7-1) on home ice. But the Canucks don't play at GM Place again until March 13 because of the upcoming Olympics - they leave Thursday for a six-week trip that is split into eight games before the Winter Games and six more after.
"We definitely wanted to finish on a winning note," said Roberto Luongo, who made 25 saves as Vancouver moved two points ahead of Colorado atop the Northwest Division. "We're not going to be playing here for a while so it was important. It's obviously a huge win before we head out."
It wasn't without controversy, however. The winning goal came with Paul Kariya in the penalty box for a slash that left Henrik Sedin shaking his hand to draw the referee's attention. Ehrhoff's screen shot from just above the goal line hit a stick and somehow got through goalie Ty Conklin's legs.
The St. Louis bench was steaming after the call, especially since the referee closest to the play didn't indicate a penalty, but the one more than 60 feet away did. But the Blues had calmed down by the time they met the media.
"Whether we agree with them or not it's irrelevant," said Conklin, who finished with 31 saves. "You've still got to kill them off.
The Canucks have won six straight for the first time since February 2007, and the last three came while missing three of their top-four defensemen to injury. Perhaps more impressive was beating the Blues on a rare off night for Vancouver's top line.
Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows, who had combined for 30 points over the previous five games, were held off the scoresheet for the first time in 13 games.
The second line picked up the slack.
Raymond put the Canucks ahead with his second goal of the game 3:37 into the third period, but T.J. Oshie tied it midway through before Raymond and Kesler assisted on Ehrhoff s winner.
"That's part of winning consistently. You need secondary scoring to chip in," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We put a lot of emphasis on making sure we continued the streak we were on and we ended the homestand properly."
Keith Tkachuk also scored, and defenseman Erik Johnson hit the post with 90 seconds left as the Blues fell to 6-5-2 under new head coach Davis Payne. He took over from Andy Murray on Jan. 2, two days after the Canucks overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat St. Louis in overtime.
"The game was pretty even," Payne said before addressing the decisive penalty call. "There's a lot that went uncalled. I'm disappointed it came down to that.
Tkachuk opened the scoring on a power play 4:24 in, but David Perron's bad turnover just inside his blue line allowed the Canucks to tie it just over 2 minutes later. Ryan Kesler intercepted the soft cross-ice feed, and threw the puck on goal for Raymond to deflect it between Conklin's legs.
Raymond added his 20th of the season early in the third period, faking a slap shot at the top of the faceoff circle and taking a couple more strides before snapping in a high shot that froze Conklin.
"I think Conklin was almost thinking I was going to pass it across but I saw the blocker side there and was fortunate enough to make a good shot," Raymond said. "It's definitely nice to end on a win before we head out for six weeks."
Conklin was back in goal after blanking Calgary on Monday, just the second time this season he has started consecutive games. He did manage to stop the Canucks' top line, which had combined for 128 points in 30 games since Daniel Sedin returned from a broken foot in late November. But Burrows had his 12-game point streak snapped at 13 goals and six assists against the Blues.
"We didn't play our best game tonight," Henrik Sedin said after failing to build on his NHL-leading 76 points. "But we've got guys in here that can score on any given night."
NOTES: Six Vancouver forwards came into the game with more points than Blues scoring leader Brad Boyes, who had 34. Backes was back after missing three games with an upper-body injury. ... Vancouver D Willie Mitchell missed his fourth game since sustaining a concussion Jan. 16.
|PPG - Keith Tkachuk (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Andy McDonald (17), David Perron (15)|
1 - 0 STL
|Mason Raymond (19) Deflected shot - ASST: Ryan Kesler (32)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Mason Raymond (20) Wrist shot - ASST: Ryan Kesler (33), Mikael Samuelsson (18)|
2 - 1 VAN
|T.J. Oshie (11) Wrist shot - ASST: David Backes (18), Paul Kariya (14)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Christian Ehrhoff (11) Wrist shot - ASST: Mason Raymond (19), Ryan Kesler (34)|
3 - 2 VAN
|Alexander Edler Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Shane O'Brien Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Jay McClement Holding against Henrik Sedin|
|Rick Rypien Roughing against Erik Johnson|
|B.J. Crombeen Roughing against Rick Rypien|
|Erik Johnson Roughing against Rick Rypien|
|Eric Brewer Roughing against Steve Bernier|
|Steve Bernier Roughing against Eric Brewer|
|Mike Weaver Tripping against Pavol Demitra|
|Paul Kariya Slashing against Henrik Sedin|
|David Perron Hi-sticking against Alexander Edler|
|SA: 34||TOI: 59:00|
|Saves: 31||EV: 23 - 25|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 9|
|SV%: .912||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 27||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 25||EV: 24 - 25|
|PIM: 0||PP: 1 - 2|
|SV%: .926||SH: 0 - 0|