ST. LOUIS (TICKER) —The Vancouver Canucks broke the team record for longest unbeaten streak, thanks in part to someone who wasn’t around for most of it.
Defenseman Nolan Baumgartner scored his first NHL goal and set up another as the Canucks held on for a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, stretching their unbeaten streak to 11 games.
Vancouver had a 10-game winning streak earlier this season to go with a 5-0-5 stretch from March 5-25, 1977.
“Pretty exciting, 11 games without a loss,” Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. “Sometimes you look about it a little critically. We’re winning them in fashion, getting a lot of separation between some of the teams that are chasing us. It’s kind of neat.”
Recalled from the minors before the game, Baumgartner made his first appearance with the Canucks since October 26. He put them ahead for good with a power-play goal 5:41 into the opening period, then picked up the primary assist on Artem Chubarov’s tally with the extra man that made it 2-0 just under eight minutes later. “I’m very excited,” Baumgartner said. “It was a great feeling to score your first NHL goal. Every kid’s dream to do that. Very unexpected.”
The Blues appeared to make it 4-3 with 2:15 to play when Keith Tkachuk snapped a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot past goaltender Peter Skudra. But referee Paul Stewart disallowed the goal, ruling that St. Louis interfered with Skudra.
“I didn’t get an explanation,” Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. “Obviously, they felt there was some contact there. Extremely marginal from a guy that is 100 feet away. I don’t know how he saw it.”
Despite its record-breaking hot streak, Vancouver remained six points ahead of second-place Colorado in the Northwest Division.
Tkachuk and Cory Stillman each picked up a goal and an assist for the Blues, who have lost three of four following a six-game unbeaten streak.
“Made an effort to come back, too little, too late,” St. Louis winger Scott Mellanby said. “Can’t rely on that every night. For different reasons, in all facets of our game, we don’t seem sharp off the start and it gets us in a hole.”
Baumgartner started digging that hole just 5:41 into the game. With 18 seconds left on defenseman Bryce Salvador’s interference penalty, he got a pass from Trevor Linden at the top of the slot and wristed a shot past goaltender Fred Brathwaite.
“He made a great pass to me,” Baumgartner said. “Just shot it, tried to do it high. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net.”
Chubarov beat Brathwaite with a slap shot from the right faceoff circle and Morrison slid a backhander between the goalie’s pads 2:16 into the second period.
Brathwaite was replaced by Brent Johnson after allowing three goals on only five shots.
“It’s something you have to look at, hate to visit it,” Quenneville said of his goaltending situation. “It’s something that should be a non-issue. Should be comfortable with the guy in net. Right now, we’re going through a tough stretch.”
The Blues responded to the change, getting on the board nine minutes later on Tkachuk’s 28th goal and climbing within 3-2 at 14:21 as Stillman put the rebound of his own deflection past Skudra.
But Cooke restored the Canucks’ two-goal cushion with 10:44 to play in the third.
“Solid team effort by everybody,” Vancouver right wing Trent Klatt said. “Got off to a good start tonight. Had a couple of key players out of the lineup, guys really stepped up and made a difference.”