St. Louis (14-14-5) at Vancouver (20-15-0)

Sunny Currently: Vancouver, BC
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 10:00 pm EST Sun Dec 20, 2009
  • TV: FSMW, RSNP
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler(notes) feels his team is playing with confidence.

St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray used a much different word to describe the way his team is playing.

The Canucks look for their fifth win in six games Sunday when they host the Blues, who try to bounce back from a “dumb” loss and avoid losing three in a row for the first time in six weeks.

In Vancouver’s 3-2 victory over Washington on Friday, Mason Raymond(notes) tied the game at 2 late in the second period and scored the game winner on a power play with 6:04 left in the third. Kesler had a goal and an assist playing with Raymond.

The Canucks (20-15-0) have won four of five on their eight-game homestand, and Raymond and Kesler have been instrumental during this stretch.

Raymond has five goals in his last five games after scoring just once in his previous 10, while Kesler has four goals in his last six after going 14 without scoring.

“Confidence is a funny thing,” Kesler said. “When you have it you feel good and it’s effortless out there.”

It hasn’t been as effortless for St. Louis (14-14-5) lately.

The Blues, owners of one of the worst records in the league, are coming off Friday’s 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay, their third defeat in four games. After the game, Murray kept his team in the locker room for a lengthy period.

“It was a dumb loss,” Murray said. “I’m responsible here. I’m the head coach, and it doesn’t sit well with me.”

One of the biggest problems for the Blues, who haven’t lost thee straight since a five-game skid from Oct. 29-Nov. 8, is an offense that has scored an NHL-worst 81 goals.

St. Louis’ offense managed to come alive in a 6-1 win over the Canucks on Nov. 10, but Vancouver wasn’t at full strength. Daniel Sedin(notes) missed the game with a broken left foot, and backup Andrew Raycroft(notes) started in net.

Raycroft allowed four goals on 13 shots before being replaced by Roberto Luongo(notes) after the first period. It was Luongo’s first appearance since Oct. 27 after missing six games with a broken rib.

Luongo, who stopped Alexander Semin(notes) on a penalty shot with 5:45 left among his 25 saves Friday, has been tough against St. Louis lately. He is 5-1-0 with a 2.43 goals-against average in his last six starts against the Blues, and has posted a 1.24 GAA with two shutouts in winning his last eight starts against them at GM Place, including the playoffs.

The Canucks, who swept the Blues in a first-round playoff series last season, are 14-5-0 at GM Place.

The Blues, who are opening a four-game road trip, are actually playing much better away from St. Louis. They’re 8-3-3 on the road, compared to 6-11-2 at home.

St. Louis’ David Perron(notes) had a hat trick against the Canucks last month, but has scored only two goals in 17 games since.

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Sunday, Dec 20