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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Roberto Luongo was the first star Thursday night after his first shutout in four months, but Canucks coach Alain Vigneault credited the Vancouver media for his goalie's performance.
"You guys should be the first star," Vigneault chuckled after a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues. "You (ticked) him off and look how well he played."
Luongo, upset at criticism over his puck handling and questions about a couple soft goals despite going 15-2-1 his last 18 starts, made 30 saves against the Blues, keeping Vancouver in the game while being outshot 18-4 the first half.
Luongo's sixth shutout this season - but first since Nov. 8, a few weeks before a groin injury that forced him to miss almost two months - extended Vancouver's franchise-record home winning streak to 11 games. The All-Star goalie has been good in that run, but rarely had to steal a game before Thursday.
"It's nice to not have to play on top of my head every night to get a win, but sometimes you got to do it," Luongo said. "We maybe didn't have our legs early and I had to make a couple of saves, but once we got our first goal we got going."
Alex Burrows got that first goal with 5:06 left in the second period, and Mason Raymond and Henrik Sedin added goals 1:56 apart midway through the third, as the Canucks leapfrogged Chicago for fourth place in the Western Conference. Vancouver, 16-3-1 since ending a nine-game home losing streak Feb. 2, also trails Calgary for the Northwest Division lead by just three points.
For Luongo, moving up the standing was more important than posting his 44th career shutout, fifth among active NHL goaltenders.
"There's more important things we've got to worry about, trying to get home ice and catch teams ahead of us," Luongo said. "That's all that matters."
Chris Mason, making his 22nd straight start, made 18 saves for the Blues, who fell to 12th place in the West - four points out of the final playoff spot.
St. Louis also lost veteran forward Keith Tkachuk to a wrist injury 2 minutes into the third period. Tkachuk, third on the team with 21 goals, was hit by Mattias Ohlund's slap shot, went straight to the locker room and did not return.
Blues coach Andy Murray didn't have an update on Tkachuk after the game, but wasn't worried after seeing his team overcome key injuries all season to get back into the playoff race with a 13-6-5 record since the All-Star break.
"We've dealt with adversity all year and players in and out of the lineup," Murray said. "Obviously (Tkachuk) is a big part of our team and whenever you lose a guy like that it hurts. But we're used to it and continued to play hard."
The Blues, who have lost three of the last four, including a 2-1 shootout loss in Edmonton on Tuesday night, certainly came out strong Thursday.
Vancouver didn't register a second-period shot until a power play more than 11 minutes in, and was being outshot 18-4 by the Blues at that point. But Luongo kept it scoreless in the second period by stopping Patrik Berglund on a 2-on-1, and recovering quickly to get David Perron's rebound attempt from in tight.
"It wasn't that Vancouver gave us anything, we went out and earned it the first 30 minutes but failed to score on our opportunities and to me that's the tale of the game," Murray said. "Failed opportunities in the first half cost us."
Burrows then opened the scoring with 5:06 left in the second period, cutting into the slot off the boards, knocking Henrik Sedin's pass out of the corner down to his stick, and snapping a wrist shot under Mason's blocker.
"It was huge to get that first goal, especially at this time of year," Burrows said after his eighth goal in the last nine games - and career-best 23rd this season. "That first goal really gave us the momentum.
Raymond doubled the lead with his first goal in 27 games 8:33 into the third period, driving hard to the back of the net to knock in a perfect cross-ice pass - just past a diving defender - from Ryan Kesler off the rush.
"It feels like my first NHL goal all over again," Raymond said about his 10th goal of the season. "It's been a battle and struggle here for quite a while."
Henrik Sedin scored again 2 minutes later after David Backes lost the puck behind his own net. Daniel Sedin pounced on it and fed a pass to his identical twin alone in front of the net, where he deked Mason down and shot it in.
Luongo got a break when Barret Jackman's point shot glanced off the cross bar three minutes into the third period, and had to recover quickly again to get a toe on T.J. Oshie's quick wraparound a couple of minutes later.
"He s been one of the reasons we've had success at home," Burrows said about Luongo. "And tonight he showed everybody that he's the guy and that's what we'll be seeing down the stretch."
Notes: The Canucks will start a six-game trip in Phoenix on Saturday. The teams meet again in St. Louis next Thursday. The teams split the first two meetings by identical 6-4 scores, with the Blues' victory on Jan. 9 starting an eight-game losing streak for the Canucks.
|Alexandre Burrows (23) Wrist shot - ASST: Henrik Sedin (51), Daniel Sedin (41)|
1 - 0 VAN
|Mason Raymond (10) Tip-in - ASST: Ryan Kesler (30), Sami Salo (15)|
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|Henrik Sedin (15) Wrist shot - ASST: Daniel Sedin (42)|
3 - 0 VAN
|Shane O'Brien Interference against Andy McDonald|
|Alexandre Burrows Interference against Mike Weaver|
|Mason Raymond Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Barret Jackman Holding the stick against Daniel Sedin|
|David Backes Roughing against Willie Mitchell|
|Willie Mitchell Roughing against David Backes|
|Jeff Woywitka Roughing against Ryan Kesler|
|Mats Sundin Tripping against Barret Jackman|
|Sami Salo Hooking against Jay McClement|