St. Louis upended Vancouver 3-2 to snap the Canucks four-game winning streak in a game that had Vancouver give up the opening goal and fall behind on the scoresheet three times before a comeback was out of the question.
Alex Steen’s second score of the night counted as the golden goal with 6:11 to play in the third period; Steen opened the scoring less than five minutes into the first, while Matt D’Agostini rounded out the Blues offence with a second period strike.
Vancouver responded with goals from Jannik Hansen and Kevin Bieksa, but the Canucks were outshot 28-23 and outplayed on home ice for just the fourth time this season.
“It’s a place where we want to make it hard to come into,” said Ryan Kesler, of Rogers Arena. “Obviously there’s a bunch of excuses we can use for not being ready tonight, but you’ve got to give them credit, they were ready to compete. Bottom line is that we didn’t execute tonight.”
Vancouver’s failure to launch can be linked directly to its struggles on the power play, the NHL’s top ranked unit going into the night.
The Canucks, coming off a two-game road sweep of Calgary and Chicago in which they outscored the Flames and Blackhawks 10-3, couldn’t get anything going on the man advantage, despite having five opportunities and nearly 10 minutes of power play time.
Five shots on goal were all the Canucks could muster.
“They played it all right, we still had a lot of chances that could have been great chances, but we didn't make the last play or the right play,” assessed Henrik Sedin, who was disappointed the Canucks couldn’t come away with at least a single point.
“We were in pretty good shape heading into the third, we had a tie there and that’s what you want on home ice, but we couldn’t get the momentum.”
Of all the excuses that could be used to defend Vancouver’s eighth loss of the season, underestimating or looking past St. Louis, who was without three of their top five scorers from last season, isn’t one of them.
“It’s a tough league to win in and every team is really good and everybody competes hard,” said Alex Burrows. “They came in here and they worked hard, they were on the D-side of every guy, they played a real smart road game and we didn’t have our best.”
Added Kesler: “It’s hockey, you’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some, and tonight we beat ourselves and we’ve just got to turn the page and learn from this and move on.”
So much for a relaxing day on the couch watching football.
When Alex Bolduc woke up Sunday morning the last thing on his mind was jet setting to Vancouver as fast as humanely possible to play against the St. Louis Blues.
That turned out to be the case as the Canucks recalled Bolduc just after lunch and lickety-split the forward, who was assigned to Manitoba for conditioning on December 2nd and played in back-to-back games against the Oklahoma City Barons Friday and Saturday, appeared his second game of the year versus the Blues.
“I got the call around 12:45 today and the flight left at 1:50, so I had an hour to get my equipment and get to the airport,” said Bolduc, who skated with Joel Perrault and Tanner Glass on Vancouver’s fourth line.
Bolduc described his day as “hectic,” but that’s really not doing the situation justice. After getting the call, Bolduc had the Manitoba Moose training staff pack his hockey bags and grab him a few sticks just in time for him to swing by in a cab, which waited outside the MTS Centre, to pick them up.
Then it was off to the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, the eighth busiest airport in Canada, to try and make the flight. The drive to the airport is 20 minutes at best, which had Bolduc giving the cab driver a few words of encouragement in terms of speed.
“I yelled at him a few times to hurry up,” laughed Bolduc, who made it to the airport at 1:25, starving out of his mind.
“I had to ditch the room service I ordered, I had a nice little lunch coming and I didn’t get a chance to eat it, but it was worth it. It’s something I’ll remember for a while.”
In 24 career games for the Canucks, Bolduc has one point (0-1-1) and six penalty minutes.
Dan Hamhuis appeared in his 500th NHL game on the night; Sunday’s game was the first of three straight at Rogers Arena with the Canucks playing five of their next six games at home; Jeff Tambellini had an assist against the Blues giving him at least a point in four of five games since being recalled.