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Blues survive late rally to defeat Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- The St. Louis Blues had just enough left at the end of their second game in as many nights to hold off the Vancouver Canucks.

Coming off a win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday and playing their third game in four nights, the Blues got goals from four players and 31 saves from goaltender Jake Allen to hang on for a 4-3 victory against the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Friday.

Kyle Brodziak scored his first goal with the Blues with 3:46 left in the third period to make it 4-1. But 19-year-old Canucks rookie Jared McCann responded 30 seconds later, and Daniel Sedin scored with 28.8 seconds left to get Vancouver within a goal.

"You could see the effects of playing three in four nights in the last five minutes," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, "But we held it together."

Allen had to make five saves in the final minutes.

"We battled. We grinded," Allen said. "It wasn't pretty but it doesn't have to be."

Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist, Jori Lehtera and Roberto Bortuzzo scored goals, and Vladimir Tarasenko contributed two assists to help St. Louis (4-1-0) snap a six-game losing streak against the Canucks.

"To battle through and play a smart game against a skill group like that, that controls the puck in the zone, I think the guys did a great job keeping their composure," Brodziak said. "When we lost it a little bit, Allen was awesome for us tonight."

Coming off a road sweep of back-to-back games against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, the Canucks rallied late with 16 shots in the third period. But it wasn't enough to keep Vancouver (3-1-1) from losing in regulation for the first time this season.

"I didn't think we played well enough to be in this game," Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said. "We're a team that battles and you've got to give us some credit for that, but a little too late."

Brandon Sutter scored the other goal for Vancouver on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break to make it 3-1 with 7:22 left in the second period. Ryan Miller made 28 saves for the Canucks, who had won six in a row against St. Louis since a 2-1 shootout loss on April 16, 2013, and were 9-0-2 against the Blues since a 3-2 loss on Nov. 4, 2011.

"That's not something that goes through our heads," Steen said of the Blues' struggles against Vancouver. "We just wanted to come in and play a good game, especially on back-to-backs. Whenever you can go into back-to-back games and pull four points out you have to be happy."

It may have been a costly win for the Blues, who lost top-line center Paul Stastny to an apparent right leg or foot injury when he was hit by a shot with about six minutes left in the second period. Stastny, who has five points in five games, including an assist on Steen's goal, played one more shift before going to the dressing room; he did not return.

"He took a shot so we'll know tomorrow what type of term we're at," Hitchcock said.

The Blues opened the scoring at 7:36 of the first period, not long after the Canucks failed to convert a 4-on-1 opportunity. Lehtera was left alone in the slot to Miller's left and had enough time to collect a cross-ice pass from Jaden Schwartz and pull the puck from backhand to forehand, catching Miller going to the left as he shot the puck back to the goaltender's right.

Allen stopped Bo Horvat on a 2-on-1 early in the second period, and Steen made it 2-0 at 4:52 after a long breakout pass by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler was intercepted in the neutral zone. Tarasenko picked off the pass and started a 3-on-2 rush the other way that he finished with another nice pass to Steen for a backdoor tap-in past a diving Miller.

"Our unit has pretty good chemistry," Steen said. "We discuss everything: Details in the game, how we want to play, where guys are at all times. Stastny made an unreal backhand pass to [Tarasenko]. He just one-touches it over. Empty net for me. I'll take those."

Bortuzzo made it 3-0 on another 3-on-2 midway through the period, tapping a rebound into an empty net after Miller couldn't completely control Tarasenko's shot from the slot. St. Louis had a chance to make it 4-0 on another power play; instead, Sutter cut the deficit to 3-1 when he beat Allen under the blocker on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush 10 seconds after Daniel Sedin was sent off for holding.

Vancouver could have closed the gap after Tarasenko was given a double minor for high-sticking Sutter while breaking up a good scoring chance in front of the Blues net late in the second period. But the Canucks had only three shots on the extended power play. They finished 0-for-5 with the extra man and are 1-for-18 this season.

"Execution," Henrik Sedin said of the power play struggles. "You've got to trust in what you do. We're not making the plays we know we can."

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