Partly Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EDT Sun Apr 20, 2003
  • TV: CBC, ESPN2

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinal; Blues lead 3-2.

Dealing with the rejuvenated top line of the Vancouver Canucks figures to be difficult enough. Now health problems have also become a major concern for the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis tries to put those concerns aside and finish off the Canucks when the teams meet in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at the Savvis Center.

Waiting for production from its No. 1 line all series, the Canucks finally got it Friday in Game 5 as Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison each scored in a 5-3 victory to help Vancouver force the series back to St. Louis.

Bertuzzi ended a nine-game goal drought at 8:36 of the second period to spark a three-goal outburst for the Canucks, who scored just four goals in the first four games of the series.

“It’s nice to get some confidence and we’re just going to keep building,” Bertuzzi said. “The guys in here are really believing. We’re very confident.”

The trio of Naslund, Morrison and Bertuzzi, arguably the league’s best line, combined for 119 goals and 272 points in the regular season, but had just one goal and three assists in the first four games of this series.

“It’s not like we were working not to score,” Bertuzzi said. “We’re trying to work our tails off to get the goals. We’ve been getting our chances and they just haven’t been going in, and as a goal scorer you understand if you’re getting those chances they’re bound to go in.”

Tyson Nash, Cory Stillman and Martin Rucinsky had goals for St. Louis, which is trying to reach the conference semifinals for the third consecutive season.

Already playing without injured defenseman Al MacInnis, the Blues have been hit by a flu bug that is beginning to take its toll. Defenseman Alex Khavanov left Game 5 early in the first period and Pavol Demitra, Chris Pronger and Rucinsky were affected by the illness Friday.

Scott Mellanby returned to the lineup for Game 5 after missing Game 4 with the flu.

“Somebody doesn’t like us very much,” Mellanby said. “Injury after injury after injury and now this bug. We spent so much time this season talking about adversity. Maybe we talked about it so much we bring it on ourselves.”

The Blues’ Chris Osgood, who stopped 90 of 94 shots in the series before Friday, was beaten five times on 35 shots in Game 5. He appeared to hurt himself making a save on Bertuzzi’s breakaway in the final minute of the second period and emerged hobbling from the training room after the game, but said he would be fine for Game 6.

Doug Weight continues to produce for the Blues, picking up two more assists in Game 5. He leads all playoff scorers with nine points.

Vancouver is trying to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series for the third time in franchise history and the first time since the 1994 conference quarterfinals against the Calgary Flames.

If the Canucks avoid elimination again, Game 7 would be Tuesday in Vancouver.

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

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Naslund, 2 goals; three with 2 assists; three with 3 points; Bertuzzi, 32 PIM. Blues - Weight and Rucinsky, 3 goals; Weight, 6 assists and 9 points; Dallas Drake, 21 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Canucks - Power play: 11.1 percent (4 for 36). Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (31 for 38). Blues - Power play: 18.4 percent (7 for 38). Penalty killing: 88.9 percent (32 for 36).

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Dan Cloutier (2-3, 3.21 GAA); Alex Auld (no appearances). Blues - Osgood (3-2, 1 SO, 1.81); Brent Johnson (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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