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Canucks-Blues Preview

Sunday, 04.19.2009 / 6:00 PM

Associated Press

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Canucks-Blues Preview
Vancouver Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS (AP) - There's great anticipation over the St. Louis Blues' first home playoff game in five years. Now, all they've got to do is slip a few pucks past Roberto Luongo.

The Vancouver Canucks' goalie was the unquestioned star the first two games of the Western Conference quarterfinal series, allowing only one goal while stopping 55 shots. He's coming off his first career playoff shutout in a 3-0 victory Friday night that gave the West's third seed a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 Sunday night.

"I feel great, I'm seeing the puck well and guys are doing a great job in front of me so I can see the puck," Luongo said. "And sometimes when you don't see it, it hits you.

"It's nice to know sometimes the puck bounces your way like that."

St. Louis was the NHL's hottest team the second half and went 9-1-1 to finish the regular season. So far, the Canucks and Luongo have made the Blues' first playoff berth since 2003-04 a frustrating experience.

Luongo finished the regular season with consecutive shutouts that helped the Canucks win the Northwest Division. He sees no reason why the roll can't continue on the road.

"That's the type of stuff that I enjoy, going into buildings where it's not the greatest atmosphere for the visiting team," he said before the series began. "That's the best part of hockey.

"I almost enjoy that more than playing home games."

The Blues are hoping increased traffic around the net will help them solve the Luongo puzzle. That, plus improved production from a power play that's gone 1-for-11. A little luck would also help.

Coach Andy Murray pointed out the Blues hit the goal post or crossbar four times in Game 2. Three of those were off the stick of Andy McDonald.

"Obviously, when you don't score that means he sees too many pucks," Murray said. "There's not many pucks he won't stop if he sees them, so we need to be better."

Easy to say.

"Our 'D' and our forwards are doing a good job of boxing out and letting Louie see the pucks," Canucks forward Ryan Kesler said. "Our goal is to keep them away from Louie and let Louie see and stand his ground and make the stops."

And, perhaps, get into their heads.

"When a goalie is hot against you and he makes a couple of big saves, you start hanging your head a little bit and give a couple of sighs," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "Kind of like 'Are we ever going to beat this guy?"'

The Blues have rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win a seven-game series only once in franchise history. Then again, they were in a must-win situation much of the season, climbing back from dead last in the conference in mid-February and qualifying for the playoffs with one game to go in the regular season.

They've lost two straight for the first time since Jan. 11 and 13.

"Have you been following us since Christmas?" Murray said. "We had a fair amount of pressure in every one of those games because if we lost one of those we wouldn't be sitting here right now playing in the playoffs, so nobody has to tell us about pressure."

Murray is confident the Blues have more to give, and will be inspired by a vociferous fan following they won back after three straight also-ran seasons.

"They've got a great crowd, a rowdy crowd, and they play very well in their own arena," said Canucks center Ryan Johnson, a former Blue. "We're going to have to keep our energy high, short shifts, and start things off good here and let our momentum carry us."

Physical play picked up in Game 2 and is likely to make the trip across two time zones for Game 3.

"They're trying to take something from us that we really want and we're trying to take something from us that we really want," Blues forward David Backes said. "So it's going to be that way until we're shaking hands at the end and hopefully we have smiles on our face."

The Blues didn't practice on Saturday, flying back to St. Louis the morning after the game. The Canucks practiced in Vancouver before making the trip.

series schedule/results
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 21 '09VAN 3 at STL 2 - OTA. Burrows
Apr 19 '09VAN 3 at STL 2S. Bernier
Apr 17 '09STL 0 at VAN 3M. Sundin
Apr 15 '09STL 1 at VAN 2S. Salo
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
D. Sedin3235+2210
H. Sedin3134+2200
S. Salo3134+0211
P. Demitra3022+2000
A. Edler3022+0200
M. Ohlund3101+1610
A. Burrows3101+1400
S. Bernier3101+0511
M. Sundin2101+1001
K. Bieksa3011+2400
R. Kesler3011+1200
K. Wellwood3011-1000
S. O'Brien3000+1400
R. Johnson3000+0200
W. Mitchell3000+01000
D. Hordichuk3000+01000
R. Rypien3000+01200
M. Raymond3000-1000
J. Hansen1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
R. Luongo33-03821.00.963
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
A. McDonald3123+0000
D. Backes3112+0800
B. Boyes3112-1010
D. Perron3011+1400
A. Steen3011-2000
J. McKee3000+0400
M. Weaver3000+0000
J. Woywitka3000+0000
T. Oshie3000+0200
P. Berglund3000+0200
B. Jackman3000-1500
B. Winchester3000-11000
C. Colaiacovo3000-1000
J. McClement3000-1400
B. Crombeen3000-11200
R. Polak3000-1000
K. Tkachuk3000-2200
D. Hinote2000-1200
C. Janssen1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
C. Mason30-37832.37.916