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Canucks-Blues Preview

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The St. Louis Blues may have been the worst team in the NHL last season, but they certainly didn't play like it against the Vancouver Canucks.

St. Louis looks to defeat Vancouver for the fifth consecutive time when the clubs face off for the first time this season at the Scottrade Center on Friday night.

The Blues (2-3-1) swept their four-game season series with the Canucks in 2005-06, tallying four goals in each contest and outscoring Vancouver by a combined 16-4 margin. The four wins accounted for nearly one-fifth of St Louis' league-low 21 victories.

The Canucks managed only two power-play goals in 23 opportunities in the four meetings, while St. Louis scored once with the man advantage in each game.

Curtis Sanford was in net for all four victories over Vancouver last season, posting a 0.90 goals-against average. Sanford, now a backup to Manny Legace, has played only once this season in a 2-0 loss Oct. 9 to the Anaheim Ducks.

St. Louis has started Legace in its other five contests, including Tuesday night's 5-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Legace, who spent the previous six seasons with Detroit before signing with the Blues, stopped 28 of 32 shots in the defeat, the first loss in three home games for St. Louis.

A lack of offensive punch, though, doomed the Blues. St. Louis had a season-low 27 shots on net and failed to score in eight power-play opportunities.

"Why didn't we have an attitude to go in and build on something that we had going well," St. Louis coach Mike Kitchen said. "Today, we thought we'd put the equipment on and we'll win the hockey game. It was a very disappointing effort."

A couple of key Blues veteran forwards have strong track records against Vancouver. Doug Weight, still looking for his first point the season, has 17 career goals while Keith Tkachuk has 21 goals and 30 assists in 51 career games versus Vancouver.

This contest is the second of a five-game road trip for the Canucks (3-3-1), who are in the midst of a brutal season-opening stretch of nine road games in 11 contests.

New coach Alain Vigneault already is taking precautions to make sure the schedule doesn't wear down veteran Trevor Linden. The 36-year-old right wing sat out Tuesday night's 2-1 loss at Edmonton to open the current trip.

"We felt that last year at times Trevor looked a bit tired," Vigneault said. "I have to think about what is best for Trevor Linden and for the team. A fresher Trevor Linden, according to what I've been told, is going to beneficial for us down the road."

Linden scored on Oct. 5 in Vancouver's season-opening 3-1 victory at Detroit, but has not found the back of the net since.

Vancouver's top line of Markus Naslund and twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin has accounted for 22 of the team's 35 total points this season. Naslund scored on the power play - assisted by both Sedins - in the third period Tuesday to provide the Canucks' only offense.

Naslund has struggled in his career against the Blues, scoring only seven goals in 39 career games.

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