Blues get blanked for first time this season in Vancouver
This wasn't the way the St. Louis Blues wanted to start their road trip.
The Blues allowed a late third-period goal and suffered a tough 1-0 loss in Vancouver on Wednesday night. The Blues fell to 39-13-6 with 84 points in 58 games.
The Blues entered the game ranking second in the NHL in goals per game (3.3) but were shut out for the first time this season.
They had quality scoring chances, including three power plays, but could not capitalize. They were out-shot by the Canucks, 35-20, and managed just three shots on goal in the decisive third period.
The Blues simply were unable to get enough shots on net. Too often the Blues' attackers missed high or wide with their shots, which made for an easier night for Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack.
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The Blues have lost all three meetings with the Canucks this season and Lack has allowed just three goals in the three games.
St. Louis has not scored a power-play goal in four consecutive games. The Blues are 0 for 21 on the power play in those contests.
Halak stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced Wednesday, but it was the lone goal from Jannik Hansen at the 11:13 mark in the third period on a partial breakaway that made the difference.
Halak is now 1-2-1 in his last four starts, though he has a .933 save percentage (stopping 125 of 134 shots) during that stretch. It will be interesting to see if Ken Hitchcock goes back to Halak for Friday's showdown in Anaheim or whether he gives Brian Elliott the start.
Hitchcock had some unusual line pairings for the Blues' first game back after the break.
He moved Patrik Berglund, who was coming off a strong Olympics with Sweden, to left wing on the first line with U.S. Olympians David Backes and T.J. Oshie.
Berglund's Swedish teammate, Alexander Steen, had been a fixture with Backes as a winger on that first line but was moved to the second line, where he was the center for wingers Chris Stewart and Jaden Schwartz.
Late in the third period, when they were chasing the game-tying goal, the Blues reunited Backes, Steen and Oshie on the top line. That is the trio that had carried St. Louis at times during the early portion of the schedule before Steen missed time with a concussion.
Like the goaltender situation, Hitchcock's handling of the lines Friday against the Western Conference-leading Ducks will be a key development to watch.