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game recap

Blues blank Canucks to clinch playoff berth

Elliott makes 15 saves for third consecutive shutout

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

Blues celebrate playoff berth

VAN@STL: Blues celebrate playoff berth after 4-0 win

3/26/16: The Blues finish off a 4-0 win against the Canucks and celebrate their fifth consecutive playoff berth

  • 00:53 •

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues became the fourth team from the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 at Scottrade Center on Friday.

They did it with authority after learning a lesson following back-to-back losses last week at the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, two teams out of the playoff race.

 

 

 

Brian Elliott made 15 saves for his third consecutive shutout, a stretch of 180 minutes in which he's made 71 straight saves. It's the third time in his career he's had three straight shutouts. He also did it from April 7-11, 2013 and March 22-27, 2012. It's a franchise record he shares with Greg Millen, who had three straight shutouts from Dec. 1-6, 1989.

Elliott is 9-0-1 in the past 11 games he's started with a 1.61 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. His shutout streak has come after he missed 10 games with a lower-body injury.

"We talked about it before the game; you work so hard during the season to lock that up," Elliott said. "These last few games, we've definitely done a great job of playing our style of hockey. We want to be playing going into the playoffs and to solidify it tonight in front of our home fans, it puts icing on the cake. We've still got work to do and it's just a first step in a mountain climb here.

"I think the guys are feeling it. I'm kind of the beneficiary on the back end with how they're playing and putting pucks in the net."

Video: VAN@STL: Edmundson scores his first goal in the NHL

The Blues (44-22-9) tied the Dallas Stars with 97 points in the race for first place in the Central Division; the Stars own the tiebreaker because they have 42 regulation and overtime wins to 39 for the Blues. Each team has seven games remaining; the Blues play at the League-leading Washington Capitals on Saturday.

The Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks also have clinched playoff berths in the West.

Rookie defenseman Joel Edmundson had his first NHL goal, and Kyle Brodziak, Robby Fabbri and Carl Gunnarsson scored for the Blues, who have won three in a row and nine of 11. Paul Stastny had two assists and has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in eight games. Troy Brouwer also had two assists.

The Canucks (27-34-13) are 0-6-1 in their past seven days and have been shut out in four of their past five. Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves.

Brodziak scored his second shorthanded goal of the season to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. He started an odd-man rush with Scottie Upshall when he deflected a Linden Vey pass; Upshall broke out of the zone, carried down the left side and fed Brodziak in the crease for an easy redirection past Markstrom at 10:51 of the first period.

"Open net, and sometimes those are a little easier to miss than you would think," Brodziak said. "He read the play perfectly right from the d-zone and took off. As soon as the [defenseman] let me go backdoor, he found me perfectly and it was just a tap-in goal."

Video: VAN@STL: Elliott stones Higgins' break, snags rebound

Fabbri's 11th point (four goals, seven assists) in 11 games was his 18th goal and came after linemates Stastny and Brouwer made quick passes, with Stastny feeding Fabbri in the left circle. Fabbri beat Markstrom with a quick wrist shot at 15:25 for a 2-0 lead.

Gunnarsson scored his first goal since Feb. 20 on a slap shot from the point with Brouwer setting a screen in front of Markstrom at 15:32 of the second period to make it 3-0. The Blues had been buzzing around the Vancouver net and nearly scored moments before Gunnarsson's goal when Markstrom made a right pad save on defenseman Robert Bortuzzo's backhand shot.

Elliott, who also shut out the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday in his first game back after the injury, made breakaway saves in the first period on Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins to keep his streak alive. Elliott denied Daniel Sedin on a shot from the slot in the second period after a lengthy shift in the Blues' zone.

"Had two breakaways in the first, hit the post twice in the second," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "We had chances to get on the scoreboard and make this a different kind of game, but when you don't finish those, it's tough and it's tough that we haven't scored any."

Edmundson made it 4-0 at 12:15 of the third period after Vladimir Tarasenko laid a big shoulder hit on Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin, then made a backhand pass to Edmundson, whose slap shot beat Markstrom.

"I blacked out after I scored," Edmundson said. "It was a special moment for me and my family and I'm pretty happy about it.

"I heard all the boys were jumping over the boards so I knew they were pretty happy for me."

With a playoff spot locked up, the Blues have their sights set on winning the division and perhaps getting the top seed in the Western Conference.

"It's been that way all year," said Elliott, who leads the League with a 1.95 GAA and .934 save percentage. "At the start, [the Stars] were kind of out of reach and we've slowly kind of climbed back. That's where we want to be, at the top of the mountain in the regular season and take it in the playoffs."

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