Santorelli breaks tie in third, lifts Canucks past Blues
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)
Zac Dalpe did a double take when his coach told him to jump over the boards and join the Sedin twins on Vancouver's top line.
It was a move that helped the Canucks to their first win of the new year.
Dalpe scored after being promoted to the first line and Mike Santorelli added the winner following his demotion to the fourth unit Friday night as the Canucks snapped a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
With his team playing a tentative first period, Canucks coach John Tortorella moved Dalpe up with Henrik and Daniel Sedin and left him there for the rest of the game.
''I didn't think he was serious to start,'' said Dalpe, who usually plays on the fourth line.
So what was going through his head once he hit the ice with the two Swedish superstars?
''Don't screw up and rise to the occasion a little bit and see where it takes you,'' Dalpe said.
The line juggling only tells part of the story, though, as a Canucks team that has surrendered plenty of late goals this season — including two against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Tuesday's 5-4 shootout loss — hung on for dear life in the final minute.
''It was pretty much like a dogfight at the end,'' said Santorelli. ''We were happy that we finally closed one out and now we just need to build off that.''
The Canucks have been scored on six times with opponents' goalies pulled for an extra attacker this season, but Eddie Lack and some desperate defending shut the door this time for Vancouver.
''I think my heart was pounding a little bit and it feels like we've been talking about this 6-on-5 for a while now,'' said Lack, who finished with 30 saves. ''I think everyone focused a little bit extra and it felt good closing it out.''
Alex Pietrangelo had the only goal for St. Louis, which snapped its seven-game winning streak.
Brian Elliott made 20 saves in the loss as the Blues failed to pick up at least a point on the road for the first time in nine games.
''They're a good team, we knew they were kind of struggling,'' Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. ''I don't really care how things have been going for them, but you know coming in here they are a good team. We just didn't create enough.''
Santorelli snapped a 1-1 tie at 5:56 of the third after linemate Dale Weise — a healthy scratch last game — drove hard to the net. The puck popped out to Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison in the high slot and his shot through traffic was deflected in by Santorelli for his 10th goal of the season.
''I wasn't good enough early on,'' said Santorelli. ''Too many turnovers, so (the demotion to the fourth line) was deserving.''
Lack then made a huge pad stop on Blues captain David Backes midway through the third to keep Vancouver ahead. The Swedish goalie has started eight of the last nine games in place of the injured Roberto Luongo.
A late power play helped kill valuable time before the Blues made their late push as the Canucks snapped an 0-2-3 run in January after going 10-1-2 in December.
''It stops the bleeding for a day or two,'' said Tortorella. ''I thought after a really tentative first period we started playing better. You can see we're fighting some confidence (issues).
''Hopefully this will help us a little bit as we try and get some traction.''
The Canucks currently hold down the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference, while the Blues still sit second in the conference and first in the Central Division.
After St. Louis carried most of the play in the first period, the Canucks scored just 91 seconds into the second when Dalpe tipped home his second of the season.
Daniel Sedin swung a pass from behind the net to Henrik Sedin, who fired a low shot from the sideboards that was going wide before Dalpe deflected it past a surprised Elliot.
''There's something to be said for the adversity they have been facing,'' said Backes. ''We knew we were going to get a team that was concentrating and on their game plan and doing all the little things.''
But it wasn't all good news for the newly formed trio as Dalpe and the Sedins were caught on an icing call later in the period, leading to the Blues' tying goal. On the ensuing faceoff, St. Louis controlled the puck and Bouwmeester fed Pietrangelo, his fellow defenseman and Canadian Olympic teammate, who wired a shot top corner past Lack for his seventh of the campaign.
The Blues were playing their second game in two nights after a 5-0 win at Calgary on Thursday, but had far more energy than the Canucks in the first period.
Blues forward Jaden Schwartz had the two best chances of the first, but Lack was there to shut the door as St. Louis held a 12-5 shot advantage heading to the locker-rooms.
NOTES: The Canucks defeated the Blues 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 25 in St. Louis. Ryan Kesler had two goals in that one, including the winner. The teams play their final regular-season meeting Feb. 26 back at Rogers Arena. ... The Canucks open a three-game road trip on Monday at Los Angeles. Vancouver visits Anaheim on Wednesday before facing Phoenix the following night. ... The Blues open a three-game homestand against the Coyotes on Tuesday. ... Tortorella coached the 900th game of his career. ... Bouwmeester, the current NHL iron man, played his 680th straight game. Henrik Sedin is right behind after playing in his 675th straight. Doug Jarvis holds the NHL record with 964 straight games played.