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Blues score in third, defeat Canucks in shootout

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock summed it up easily as the third time became a charm for career win No. 600 in the National Hockey League.

"It's basically because I'm old," said Hitchcock, who got laughter out of the media gathering for his postgame press conference following a 2-1 shootout victory against the Vancouver Canucks. "If you last long and you're old, you get this.

"I was telling the guys a story ... last time something like this, it was my 1,000th game in Columbus and Detroit came in and I think we lost 9-1 or something. This is a much better feeling to be honest with you."

Hitchcock became the 11th coach in NHL history and second active (Joel Quenneville is the other) to reach 600 victories. Along with Hitchcock, six of them have coached the Blues at one point -- Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Jacques Martin, Quenneville and Mike Keenan.

Hitchcock remembers his first win just as well. It was Jan. 22, 1996, with the Dallas Stars -- who, ironically, beat the Canucks 6-4 in Vancouver. The losing goaltender that night was Corey Hirsch, now Hitchcock's goalie coast.

"Yeah I sure do, because [Stars goalie] Allan Bester stole the puck," Hitchcock said when asked if he remembered that game. "It was my game puck and he stole it because he hadn't been in the League for about six years and he took the game puck.

"We had a wrestling match in the locker room after the game. He won. So I never saw that game puck."

The Blues (24-16-2) got the winner on Alexander Steen's shootout goal, which provided the winning margin at Scottrade Center.

Steen was the third and final shooter for the Blues, who got a goal from Andy McDonald in the first round. Steen snapped a shot upstairs to beat Cory Schneider. Derek Roy hit the post for the Canucks, and Brian Elliott stopped Alexandre Burrows in the second round.

"I didn't really get to pre-scout Roy there, but sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't," Elliott said. "Us scoring at the other end is huge for me. You just make a couple stops and you get the win. Those goals were huge.

"I think we played pretty well out there."

Jay Bouwmeester scored his first goal with the Blues and Elliott stopped 21 shots. St. Louis improved to 24-16-2, good for 50 points and seventh place in the Western Conference.

Alexander Edler scored for the Canucks, and Schneider was stellar in stopping 35 shots. The Canucks (24-12-7) had won five of six games and are 5-1-1 in their past seven but just completed three games in four nights.

"They are a hard team to play because they play a physical game, but we’re definitely not a team that backs down,” Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard said. “It made for a fun game.”

Added Canucks coach Alain Vigneault: "It was exactly what I think everybody expected -- a tough game, a hard-fought game. St. Louis came real hard at us and I thought for the most part we responded the way we were supposed to."

The Blues outshot the Canucks 14-5 in the first period -- but as they did in Sunday's 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, they had a spirited first 20 minutes but nothing to show for it. Schneider was the difference in keeping the home side of the scoreboard.

The Blues dominated all aspects of play in the second period as well, outshooting the Canucks 11-6, but Edler was able to give the visitors a 1-0 lead when he snapped a wrister from the right point with Daniel Sedin screening in front; the puck caromed off the left post and past Elliott with 12.2 seconds left in the period.

The Blues were given four power-play attempts through two periods, but their inability to convert again haunted the offense. The Blues are 6-for-76 in their past 28 games. The last time they scored more than one power-play goal in a game was Feb. 15 at the Calgary Flames.

Since scoring on their first shot 1:26 into the game Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blues went 92 shots without a goal before Bouwmeester's. It snapped a drought of 169:24.

"We've been having trouble scoring goals and we've been in some tight games," Bouwmeester said. "It always feels good when you score and you contribute."

In the defenseman's eighth game for St. Louis, he took David Perron's flip pass into the zone, went in on a 3-on-1 with Alex Pietrangelo and Andy McDonald, and instead of dishing off, beat Schneider from close-in 10:50 into the third period to tie the game 1-1.

"It was kind of a lucky play where the guy didn't know where the puck was and it just bounced down," Bouwmeester said. "It was sort of a 2-on-1. I didn't know what to do but shoot it and it was good.

"The [defenseman] was kind of playing over towards [McDonald], so it was a pretty good angle to shoot. You'll take those when you get them, I guess. Tonight was a real good effort against a real good team."

Once the Blues got it squared away, they felt good about their chances of getting the two points. If they somehow came away without the two points, it would have been an empty feeling.

"It's not always fair in this game," said captain David Backes, who had a gash on his head from a skirmish earlier in the game that required five stitches. "I think regardless, we would have said that would have been a big step in the right direction but at this point in the year, there's no moral victories because including tonight, seven games left in a tight race where we needed this in the worst way.

"There might have been some feelings like that, but luckily you can write the other story for tomorrow."

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