Sunny Currently: Vancouver, BC
Temp: 50° F
  • Game info: 10:00 pm EDT Sat Apr 12, 2003
  • TV: ESPN2, CBC

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinal; Blues lead 1-0.

Improvement for the St. Louis Blues is almost impossible. It is essential for the Vancouver Canucks.

The Blues will be trying to duplicate a nearly perfect performance when they face the Canucks in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Chris Osgood recorded his 10th career playoff shutout in relatively easy fashion and defenseman Alexander Khavanov scored twice as the Blues embarrassed the Canucks 6-0 on Thursday.

Doug Weight and Tyson Nash each added a goal and an assist for St. Louis, which outshot Vancouver 29-20.

Osgood, acquired from the New York Islanders at the trade deadline, improved his career record against Vancouver to 13-1-4, with his last loss against the Canucks coming in 1997.

“That game epitomizes a total team effort,” Osgood said. “We had great back pressure and smothered them and didn’t give them any room.”

As was the case in just about every facet of their game, the Blues’ special teams were outstanding. They went 3-for-9 with the man advantage and killed seven Vancouver power plays.

“That’s how you want to play,” Weight said. “That’s how you map it out. We’re going to do everything we did well and try to compound it and snowball it going into Game 2.”

Thursday’s performance also ended any thoughts that St. Louis was headed for a quick playoff exit after closing the regular season on an 0-3-2 slide.

While the Blues performed flawlessly, the Canucks did just about everything wrong in matching a 23-year-old franchise record for the biggest margin of defeat in a playoff game.

Vancouver’s Todd Bertuzzi was called for interference 72 seconds into the game, and Cory Stillman gave the Blues all the offense they would need just 18 seconds later.

Dan Cloutier, who struggled in Vancouver’s first-round loss to Detroit last season, yielded six goals on 29 shots.

“We got outplayed in absolutely every aspect of the game tonight,” Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. “We just didn’t even deserve to be in the same league, let alone the same rink. We know it, I’m embarrassed by it, the team is embarrassed by it. We have to regroup and get better.”

Vancouver finished second in the NHL this season with 264 goals, but has been outscored 9-0 in the last eight periods.

Canucks defenseman Mattias Ohlund hopes to return for Game 2 after missing more than five weeks with a dislocated kneecap. He took part in the morning skate Thursday, but decided afterward that he wasn’t ready to play in the opener.

The series shift to the Savvis Center for Game 3 on Monday.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Blues - 99 points; 5th seed. Canucks - 104 points; 4th seed.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Khavanov, 2 goals; Chris Pronger and Pavol Demitra, 2 assists; five with 2 points; Scott Mellanby, 6 PIM. Canucks - Three with 4 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Blues - Power play: 33.3 percent (3 for 9). Penalty killing: 100.0 percent (5 for 5). Canucks - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 5). Penalty killing: 66.6 percent (6 for 9).

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Osgood (1-0, 1 SO, 0.00 GAA); Brent Johnson (no appearances). Canucks - Cloutier (0-1, 6.00); Alexander Auld (no appearances).

REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 2-1-1. The teams combined for 33 goals in four games. Vancouver went 2-0-1 in the first three meetings before the Blues posted a 6-4 victory at home March 18. Morrison had four goals and six points for the Canucks.

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