St. Louis (17-32-9) at Vancouver (35-22-5)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Vancouver, BC
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 10:00 pm EST Sun Mar 5, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

St. Louis has been the worst team in the Western Conference this season. Just don’t tell that to starting goaltender Curtis Sanford—or the Vancouver Canucks.

Sanford will likely get the start and help the Blues sweep the season series from the Canucks when the teams meet for the final time at GM Place.

The Blues are going for their first four-game season-series sweep of the Canucks since the 1998-99 season.

Though the Blues’ streak of 25 years of postseason play will almost certainly end this season, Sanford dsai they can still try to derail other teams’ playoff hopes.

“We can play the spoiler,” he said after a 4-2 win over Edmonton on Wednesday. “We’re going to play a pivotal role in how other teams fare in the conference.”

Though Sanford did not start the season in the Blues’ plans, he has stepped in to replace Patrick Lalime and has excelled against the Canucks, recording a 0.86 goals-against average and .974 save percentage while winning all three games.

Despite a 3-1 loss to Calgary on Thursday, the Blues also have shown imporvement over a dismal first half.

St. Louis managed just five wins in its first 40 games, but has gone 7-3-3 in its last 13 games.

Rookie Lee Stempniak scored the lone goal for St. Louis, which lost in regulation for the first time in seven games.

Stempniak has points in eight of his last nine games. Only the Canucks held him off the scoresheet in the Blues’ 4-2 win at Vancouver on Feb. 8. He has three goals and two assists during a four-game points streak.

The Canucks return home after a three-game road swing after the Olympic break, capped with a 5-4 shootout win Friday over Chicago.

The Canucks, who trailed 3-0 at the end of the first period, scored three power-play goals before Brendan Morrison’s even-strength tally made it 4-4 with 6:56 to play in regulation.

Markus Naslund, a member of the gold medal-winning Swedish Olympic team, then scored the only goal in the shootout that had lifted the Canucks into a tie with Calgary atop the Northwest Division.

“We were able to get some momentum back with our power play,” Morrison said. “Lately, it hasn’t been that great. It was a big win for us. We needed those points.”

Naslund has points in three games since returning from Turin. He has just two assists in three games versus the Blues this season.

Vancouver may be without young center Ryan Kesler, who left the game in the second period with a left knee injury. Kesler has seven goals, including two game-winners, in 62 games this season.

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