Although the Vancouver Canucks have been the NHL’s hottest team over the past seven weeks, winning on the road has not come easy.
After notching their first road victory in more than a month, the Canucks hope to carry the momentum into Thursday night’s game at St. Louis against a Blues team that’s battling for a Western Conference playoff spot.
Vancouver (39-24-9) opened a six-game trip with a 5-1 loss to Phoenix on Saturday before bouncing back with a 5-2 win over Dallas on Tuesday, snapping a four-game road losing streak. It was the Canucks’ first win away from GM Place since a 3-2 shootout victory over Toronto on Feb. 21.
“It was a huge win for us,” forward Henrik Sedin told the team’s official Web site. “Losing in Phoenix and coming in here and losing again with two tough back-to-back games coming up would have been tough, all the sudden you’re back in the race again, so it was a big win for us.”
The Canucks, an NHL-best 17-4-1 since the start of February after losing their final eight games of January, are battling Chicago for fourth place in the West and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Vancouver also has a chance of catching first-place Calgary in the Northwest Division.
Henrik Sedin scored twice and added an assist Tuesday to give him five goals and four assists in his last six games, while his brother contributed a hard-fought goal.
Daniel Sedin’s 27th goal of the season broke a 1-all tie late in the first, coming 1:40 after he was hit by a high stick from Mark Fistric. Sedin had a bloody lip, needed multiple stitches in his mouth and lost a cap that protected one of his teeth.
Roberto Luongo stopped 35 shots Tuesday in his 17th straight start for Vancouver, going 13-3-1 with a 2.02 goals-against average. His one shutout in that stretch came last Thursday when he made 30 saves in a 3-0 win over St. Louis (34-30-9).
Luongo has won both of his starts versus the Blues this season and posted a 2.13 GAA in winning five straight against them.
Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist in the win over St. Louis last week, and his twin added two assists.
While the Canucks appear to be a lock for the postseason, the Blues are hoping to end a three-year playoff drought that’s followed 25 straight postseason appearances.
St. Louis improved to 9-4-1 since Feb. 24 with Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Los Angeles. Rookie Patrik Berglund scored twice in the third period and Chris Mason finished with 22 saves for his fifth shutout.
“It’s the desperation, it’s the urgency, it’s the no quit in this team,” said Mason, 14-6-4 with a 2.17 GAA and two shutouts in starting the last 24 games for the Blues. “In the third period, we just turned it on.”
Mason has keyed St. Louis’ hot streak, especially at home, where he’s 9-3-2 with a 1.82 GAA and three shutouts since Jan. 31.
Mason is helping the Blues stay in the playoff race, but he hasn’t had much success against Vancouver lately. He’s allowed eight goals in losing his two starts versus the Canucks this season, dropping him to 0-4-1 with a 3.37 GAA in seven career matchups.