Hansen scores as Canucks blank Blues 1-0
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)
Lack made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season and Jannik Hansen scored the only goal as the Canucks blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in the first post-Olympic game for both teams Wednesday night.
''It feels very good to be able to shut the door,'' Lack said. ''It was very big for our team. It's a big relief.''
The Canucks moved into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference, while the Blues dropped their third straight decision to Vancouver this season and were shut out for the first time.
The Canucks outshot the Blues 35-20, but Lack, Vancouver's backup who is in his first full NHL season, was forced to make many difficult saves. And he was able to do exactly what goalie coach Rollie Melanson had been asking of him.
''I feel like I have been working on this start for a while and I was really excited to play,'' Lack said. ''And, Rollie has been bugging me for weeks saying we need to win these 1-0 games, so it's huge.''
Hansen broke a scoreless deadlock at 11:13 of the third period. He took a backhand stretch pass from Tom Sestito from deep in the Vancouver zone just past center ice, raced in on a breakaway and beat Jaroslav Halak with a high shot.
It was Hansen's first goal in just over a month, a span of eight games, after he last scored Jan. 26 against Phoenix.
''Great play by Tommy,'' Hansen said. ''He could see I was taking off a little early and he fed me a nice pass, and I was able to get it through the goalie.''
Vancouver was blanked on four power plays while St. Louis failed to score on three. Lack drew the start after backstopping the Canucks to a pair of wins over St. Louis earlier this season.
''You don't have to look at the standings very long to see we need to win a lot of games here to make the playoffs, and it's obviously a very strong opponent today, a playoff team,'' Hansen said. ''These are the teams you have to beat. We can't just beat the teams below us.''
The Canucks played with the added aggression coach John Tortorella has been seeking as they outshot the Blues 14-6 in the first period. But the hosts could not beat a steady Halak, who was relatively fresh after playing just two games for Slovakia in the Olympics and getting plenty of rest after arriving back in St. Louis last Thursday.
''It was a pretty good pace for 60 minutes,'' Halak said. ''It was just that we came up short. We couldn't score. ''I tried to do my best. I tried to give the guys a chance to win. I'd like to get (Hansen's goal) back.''
Lack made some difficult saves, including one on a slap shot by Brendan Morrow with just under eight minutes left. The Canucks averted a dangerous chance when St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak slid the puck off the goal post and a few players crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings.
St. Louis had nine players in Sochi and the Canucks had seven. But Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who served as an assistant with Canada's gold medal-winning team, did not think post-Olympic fatigue was a factor.
''It was a hard-fought, well-played game for the most part,'' he said. ''I didn't think we had the energy in the third period that we did in the end of the first and the second. We had a great second period. But we've had trouble beating (Lack).
Hitchcock lamented his team's inability to score on odd-man rushes in two losses in Vancouver this season.
''When you get 2-on-1s and 3-on-1s on the road, you've got to capitalize,'' he said. ''I think that was the difference in the hockey game.''
Lack denied Blues captain David Backes on a one-timer during a delayed penalty and Alex Steen on a deflection, and got his pad on a shot by T.J. Oshie before defenseman Alex Edler blocked the puck as he attempted to put in the rebound.
After the save, fans chanted ''Eddie! Eddie!''
''He made some good saves, but I don't think we really tested him like we could have,'' Oshie said. ''We let him see a lot of pucks.''
Notes: Olympians from both teams were honored in a pregame ceremony. Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo drew loud cheers from the crowd when they were saluted, along with Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis and goaltender Roberto Luongo, for helping Canada win the gold medal. ... Tortorella worked his first home game since receiving a six-game suspension for storming the Calgary Flames' dressing room area Jan. 18. ... Canucks captain Henrik Sedin returned to action after suffering an undisclosed injury before the Olympics.