PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinal; Blues lead 2-1.
Playing without one of their best defensemen didn’t prevent the St. Louis Blues from having a successful regular season. That experience may prove beneficial during the playoffs.
Despite the absence of MacInnis, the Blues held the Canucks to 14 shots and Doug Weight had two goals and an assist, leading St. Louis to a 3-1 victory Monday night in Game 3.
MacInnis likely will miss the rest of this series after injuring his right shoulder on a hit by Vancouver’s Todd Bertuzzi in Game 2.
“Obviously, you miss a guy like that,” defenseman Chris Pronger said. “But we had guys step up and play great.”
Ironically, Pronger, another of the league’s best at his position, missed most of the regular season with knee and wrist injuries before returning for the final five games.
“It’s something that’s happened throughout the whole season: If somebody goes down, somebody comes in and picks up the loose pieces,” Pronger said.
The 14 shots was the fewest allowed by the Blues in a playoff game since the Philadelphia Flyers had 14 on April 4, 1968.
With his teammates playing so well in front of him, Chris Osgood needed to make only 13 saves to improve his career playoff record to 43-30. Osgood has allowed just three goals in the series.
“I told Bryce Salvador that he probably blocked more than 10 shots,” Osgood said. “As a team we probably blocked 20 shots that would have been at the net.”
St. Louis’ stifling defense kept Vancouver’s top line of Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison in check for the third straight game. The trio has no goals in this series after scoring 125 during the regular season.
“There’s not many chances and you have to play solid, be reliable and take the chances when they are there,” Naslund said. “It’s frustrating right now, no doubt about it.”
While Vancouver’s best offensive players are struggling, Blues forwards Doug Weight and Pavol Demitra have combined for five goals and five assists in this series.
Weight’s performance is particularly satisfying because he had just two points in 10 playoff games last season.
“We directed 59 shots at the net and most of them missed,” Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. “That’s what we have to improve on. We want to expose their goaltending.”
The series moves back to Vancouver for Game 5 on Friday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Canucks - 104 points; 4th seed. Blues - 99 points; 5th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Three with 1 goal; Daniel Sedin, 2 assists; Klatt and Daniel Sedin, 2 points; Bertuzzi, 18 PIM. Blues - Weight, 3 goals; Demitra, 3 assists, Weight and Demitra, 5 points; Barret Jackman, 8 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Canucks - Power play: 12.5 percent (3 for 24). Penalty killing: 76.9 percent (20 for 26). Blues - Power play: 23.1 percent (6 for 26). Penalty killing: 87.5 percent (21 for 24).
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.