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Blues honor Cardinals, then beat Canucks 3-2

by Louie Korac
ST. LOUIS -- When the St. Louis Blues are winning, the recipe for success typically includes scoring goals in the dirty areas.

After serving a shift on the fourth line in the first period, T.J. Oshie got the message that he's one of those guys who has to get his nose dirty.

"To get goals in this League, you've got to go to the tough areas," Oshie said after scoring twice and assisting on David Backes' game-winner in a 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night. "Unfortunately, it took me 11 games to learn that this season. ... It hasn't been so much this year until tonight. That's something I've got to incorporate into my game a lot more."

Oshie, who had the second two-goal game and third three-point game of his career, was in tight on Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo the entire night. He was able to get a couple of pucks past the Canucks' No. 1 netminder by crashing the area around the blue paint.

Backes, who also had an assist, put the Blues ahead to stay with a second-chance effort off his own missed shot. He was right in front of Luongo and poked his own rebound into the net 5:59 into the third period to give the Blues the lead for good after Vancouver's Ryan Kesler scored 23 seconds into the period to tie the game at 2-2.

"Stay around there and keep digging until the whistle blows," Backes said. "It's no secret that's where goals are scored in front of that blue paint. You pay a price to get there, but that's where you need to be."

Luongo, who stopped 25 shots, was incensed the whistle didn't blow after Backes' initial shot.

"I had it in my gear there for a while," Luongo said. "(Backes) kind of stuck his stick between my legs and jarred it loose and in.

"Those are unfortunately the breaks of the game. Unfortunately, that was the difference tonight."

Brian Elliott made 29 saves to beat the Canucks (6-7-1) for the second time in nine days. On Oct. 26, he stopped all 34 shots in a 3-0 win at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

The Canucks put up a much better effort in the return match.

"They came at us, and we weathered the storm pretty well," said Elliott, who improved to 5-1-0 with a 1.72 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. "It just shows our composure and the consistent type of game we wanted."

The Canucks, who fell 5-1 at Minnesota on Friday night, saw marked improvement over a game in which the Wild peppered backup Cory Schneider with 45 shots.

"Obviously we played a better game than we did last night," coach Alain Vigneault said. "It was important that our guys responded with a better effort, better execution. I think that was there for the most part.

"Both teams played hard. It was a physical game. They sort of got a bounce there on their winning goal and we weren't able to get one at the other end."

The Canucks scored first when Alexandre Burrows was credited with his fifth of the season when Blues forward Chris Stewart accidentally gloved the puck into his own net with 6:47 left in the opening period. Burrows left the game in the second period with back spasms.

Oshie got the Blues on the board by driving the net hard and taking Scott Nichol's pass and beating Luongo with a backhand at 14:50. Oshie struck again 1:28 into the second, getting into the low slot and throwing a shot through a crowded crease and past Luongo for his third of the season after good work down low by linemates Vladimir Sobotka and Backes.

"(Getting into the dirty areas) is one thing we haven't been doing as much this year," said Oshie, who helped the Blues improve to 6-6-0 on the season as they travel to Minnesota to play the Wild Saturday night. "We've been outshooting teams. We didn't get a lot of shots on net tonight, but getting in there and getting that second or third chance, that's where those goals all came from."

Said Blues coach Davis Payne, "As the game wore on, we got to enough of the right areas to get rewarded. Sometimes, they're not the pretty ones.

"A goal like Backes' to be the eventual winner, it's just finding a way to get it there, playing the interior and having numbers and sticking with it. In tough, tight hockey games, sometimes that's how it has to be done."
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