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Blues host Canucks as Luongo nears return

by Dave Lozo /

CANUCKS (10-8-0) at BLUES (5-6-4)

Last 10: Vancouver 7-3-0; St. Louis 3-4-3

Season series:
This is the first of four meetings this season between the teams. Last season, the Canucks swept the Blues in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Big story: For the Canucks, the good news is Roberto Luongo is back after missing six games with a rib injury. The bad news is a bout with the flu over the weekend will relegate him to a backup role against the Blues.

Team scope:

Canucks: Even with Luongo shelved, the Canucks haven’t missed a beat. Goaltender Andrew Raycroft went 4-1-0 with Luongo on the shelf.

"We're obviously battling the injury bug," Raycroft said. "If we can get through this stretch and play well like we are we'll get wins and come out of it ahead of the game."

The Canucks have been ahead of the game since an 0-3 start to the season, posting a 10-5-0 mark since the tough beginning.

The Blues have hit a sour note of late, losing five in a row. The latest loss saw the Blues blow a 2-0 lead to the Thrashers late in the third period and fall in a shootout.

"We've got to be tighter defensively," Blues defenseman Erik Johnson said. "We didn't come as hard we did in the first two periods. Obviously that's something you can't do when you have the lead in the third period … let the other team dictate the play."

Beware of that trend. The Canucks have outscored their opponents 6-2 in the third period of their last four games. 

Who's hot:
Raycroft is 3-0-0 in his last three starts, stopping 69 of 72 shots. The Blues have scored only 4 goals in their last 5 games, so the hottest person in that locker room might be coach Andy Murray.

Injury report:
Both Canucks forward Steve Bernier and Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo are battling the flu and could miss Tuesday’s game. There are no other new injuries for Vancouver, but Daniel Sedin (foot) practiced over the weekend and may play against St. Louis.

Stat pack:
Scoring first means a lot in the NHL, but no team has relied on it more than the Blues. They are 4-1-2 when scoring first and 1-5-2 when allowing the first goal.

Puck drop:
"It means we're close … one point in each of our last three games. Sometimes it's just a shot away from winning. Obviously we're not scoring as many goals as we'd like right now, but we're finding a way and we're really working hard at it." – Blues forward David Perron

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