Canucks drop final game of road trip against Blues in first of back-to-back games


The Canucks were in St. Louis to wrap up their Central Division road trip and were hoping to finish strong with their first straight meeting with the Blues.

The Canucks were once again without Matthew Highmore. Head coach Bruce Boudreau said before the game that Highmore is now listed as weekly rather than daily, which is certainly not the news the club were hoping to hear.

As a result, Will Lockwood entered the roster for a second straight game.

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Let’s move on to the Canucks’ full roster against St. Louis.

Jaroslav Halak started in goal for the Canucks, with Ville Husso across from him for the Blues.

Let’s do this!

At first, this game was an athletic meeting, and it was the Blues who struck first.

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After Halak made some nice saves early, the Blues made a weird one. Vladimir Tarasenko took a shot off the stick from Will Lockwood, which sent the puck flying over Halak. Unbeknownst to the Canucks goaltender, the puck landed in the blue paint and was buried by Marco Scandella. 1-0 Blues.

The Canucks took the first penalty of the game when Conor Garland tripped Jordan Kyrou with just under nine minutes left in the first.

Halak made a nice glove save on a Justin Faulk shot, but the Canucks killed Garland’s penalty.

But Garland did something on his next shift that was far worse than taking a penalty.

Garland attempted to stickhandle in the St. Louis area, but was stripped of the puck. It sent the Blues the other way on a 2-on-1, and David Perron made no mistake pulling the trigger on a one-timer that Halak never had a chance to stop. 2-0 Blues.

“He didn’t play very well, and I need more of him,” Boudreau said after the game of Garland’s performance in this one. “I think he presses really hard to score because he hasn’t scored in a while, but the idea is that you can’t do everything on your own when you press. You have to use your teammates and I think he could have passed the puck, he carried it a little too much, but he was one of the forwards that I didn’t think had a very good game.

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The Canucks earned their first power play of the game after Toropchenko hit Brad Hunt with a late knee with 48 seconds left in the first.

The first unit couldn’t convert, but had over a minute to start the second period.

The Blues killed the penalty and the Canucks were only credited with one power-play shot.

Both teams went back and forth with little happening other than neutral zone turnovers before Conor Garland and Tanner Pearson created two of the Canucks’ best chances of the period in quick succession.

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First, Garland cut down the middle and unleashed a wrist shot which was fended off by Husso. This led to a rebound which Pearson tried to bury, but desperate and scrambled, Husso managed to keep the puck out of the net.

Vasily Podkolzin blocked a point shot which he appeared to take off from inside his wrist, but didn’t look any the worse for wear as he didn’t miss a shift and even got a hit solid wrist shot on Husso on his very next shift.

The Pearson-Miller-Garland line had a particularly strong period in which they controlled possession and walked the puck confidently on several occasions. They didn’t score a goal, but they were arguably the Canucks’ most dangerous line in that span.

Side note: He got caught with his head down at one point, but Will Lockwood had a solid second period in which he weighed heavily.

Bo Horvat was awarded a penalty after clearing the puck over the glass on his own side with just under four minutes left in the second.

The Canucks killed the penalty and Elias Pettersson nearly brought the Canucks within one before the third.

He came into the run and slammed the puck between Husso’s legs. Unfortunately for Pettersson and the Canucks, the puck hit the post behind Husso and stayed away.

The Canucks generated plenty of shots on goal in the second, but still trailed by a pair before the third.

The Blues got lucky after snagging the Canucks early in the third. Vladimir Tarasenko hit home a loose puck that took a weird rebound off Halak to do it 3-0 Blues.

“I didn’t think I brought it today,” said JT Miller, who was on the ice for the Blues’ third goal. “I just wasn’t as committed as I should have been for some reason. Maybe a little tired, but I have to take some of the responsibility to play a little better.

Shortly after, local boy and Burnaby Express legend Brad Hunt led the Canucks in a 3-on-1 alongside Juho Lammikko and Alex Chiasson.

As if he was back ripping cheese from the short side on the net at Bill Copeland, Hunt beat Husso to bring the Canucks to the board. 3-1 Blues.

Nick Leddy was called for a slash on JT Miller to give the Canucks another power play and another chance to further cut St. Louis’ lead.

Halak – yes, you read that right, Halak – had to make two huge saves as the Blues were the ones generating the best chance to have the Canucks two-minute advantage.

Brad Hunt was awarded a penalty with just under ten minutes remaining as the Canucks tried to catch up.

The Canucks killed the penalty and, with more than three minutes remaining, pulled their goaltender out in a final attempt to close out this road trip by gaining ground in the standings.

Instead, Vladimir Tarasenko scored the 500th point of his career by burying an empty net and putting the icing on the cake.

Final of the Blues 4-1.

The Canucks end the road trip with a very respectable five of a possible eight points against some pretty tough opponents.

That’s great, but the math continues to look daunting for the Canucks, who have — more or less — three or four regulation losses to spare this season to truly stay in the hunt for the playoffs.

“I didn’t think we were very good tonight,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. “We came really flat in the first half and fell behind two goals, giving them a bit of life. I thought our second half was better, but we weren’t rewarded. And then when they scored in the first shift of the third period, I just didn’t think we had enough guys playing with the sense of urgency needed at this point in the season.

With 14 games remaining, that certainly sounds daunting, but stranger things have certainly happened.

The Canucks need to go 11-3-0 to finish the season just to get to 95 points. Even then, there’s no guarantee it’ll be good enough to secure a playoff spot.

Those two teams will start again on Wednesday night when the Blues travel to Vancouver to kick off the Canucks’ next homestand.


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