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Blues resume road trip in Vancouver

by Pete Jensen /

BLUES (4-4-0) at CANUCKS (4-4-1)


Season Series: Wednesday night's game at Rogers Arena marks the first of four meetings this season between St. Louis and Vancouver. The teams split four games in 2010-11, with each team winning one at home and one on the road.

Big Story: The Blues resume a stretch that sees them play eight of nine away from St. Louis. They had three days off after a 4-2 victory in Philadelphia on Saturday and venture to Western Canada for the remaining three games of their trip. The Canucks come home after losing 3-2 in Edmonton in a game they dominated for most of the night.

Team Scope:

Blues: After four losses in six games to start the season, St. Louis was in dire need of a spark. But backup goaltender Brian Elliott's performance during back-to-back wins against Carolina and Philadelphia has enabled the Blues to get their season back on track.

Elliott, who stopped 34 of 36 shots in Philadelphia to improve to 3-0-0, is beginning to challenge starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak for time in net. Halak, the unquestioned starter at the beginning of the season, has lost four of five starts with an .835 save percentage and a 3.47 goals-against-average in that span.

"Internal competition drives a hockey team to be better every day and this is no different," coach Davis Payne said of his team's goaltending situation.

But while goaltending has been the story, for better or worse, early this season for the Blues, their offense has picked up the slack as well over its last two games, combining for seven goals in that span. After rallying from a two-goal deficit to upend the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime on Friday night, the Blues used goals by Kent Huskins and T.J. Oshie in the first 10:04 of Saturday's game to grab a lead they would not relinquish. St. Louis came into the game sporting an NHL-worst 1-for-25 mark on the power play, but Matt D'Agostini scored on the man advantage late in the third period to secure the team's second-straight win.

Canucks: Vancouver opens up a two-game homestand against St. Louis in search of stability in net after Roberto Luongo was pulled in the second period of the loss in Edmonton.

After coming within a win of winning the Stanley Cup last spring, Luongo is off to a 2-3-1 start. He was lifted in favor of Cory Schneider against the Oilers after allowing three goals on four shots in the second period.

"It was a frustrating night for me," Luongo said. "I felt I was moving well and seeing the puck well in the first period and then in a five-minute span they got three quick ones and that was all she wrote."

The Canucks made it interesting when Alexandre Burrows scored at 7:43 of the third period to draw Vancouver within a goal of the Oilers. But Nikolai Khabibulin held down the fort from there, stopping 35 of 37 shots to help Edmonton send Vancouver an excruciating loss.

Who's Hot: D'Agostini, who had the overtime winner in Friday's win over Carolina, has two goals in as many games and leads St. Louis with four goals on the season. … Henrik Sedin, who assisted on Burrows' goal in the third period of Tuesday's loss, has a goal and three assists in his last three games

Injury Report: Blues captain David Backes, who scored in the second period of Friday's win over Carolina, was injured Saturday in Philadelphia after colliding with Flyers' captain Chris Pronger. However, Backes (upper body) has declared himself good to go for Wednesday's game against Vancouver. David Perron (post-concussion syndrome), B.J. Crombeen (broken scapula) and Andy McDonald (concussion) are on IR. … Mason Raymond (vertebrae), Aaron Rome (hand), Nolan Baumgartner (foot), Steve Pinizzotto (shoulder) and Byron Bitz (groin) are all on IR for Vancouver.

Stat Pack: Saturday's win marked the first time St. Louis has scored four goals in a game at Philadelphia since the teams drew a 4-4 tie in January of 1996.

Puck Drop: The Canucks are off to an uneven start, but coach Alain Vigneault says October is traditionally a month where teams, especially good ones, work out their kinks.

"We are getting behind the eight-ball early and letting the other teams score the first goal," Vigneault said. "We're having a tough time finding the back of the net. It always seems to be a challenge for us in October to find out timing and our rhythm. This October doesn't seem to be any different."

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