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Canucks top struggling Blues 3-2 @NHL
Manny Malhotra makes his living as a checker and a faceoff ace. A game-winning goal like the one he scored Thursday night is a bonus.

Malhotra scored 65 seconds into the third period to break a tie and give Vancouver a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues, keeping the Canucks atop the overall NHL standings.

"It's always nice to contribute on the offensive side of things, but more importantly we re-established the momentum we lost in the second period," Malhotra said. "It was the tale of two games up to that point."

The Canucks led 2-0 after one period on goals by Mikael Samuelsson and Sami Salo. But the Blues dominated the second period, outshooting the Canucks 11-4 and getting goals 1:14 apart by Alex Pietrangelo and David Backes to pull even.

But the Canucks went ahead to stay when Malhotra swept the puck past goalie Ty Conklin after some good forechecking by Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen.

"I just wanted to get a quick shot," said Malhotra, who has 2 goals and 6 points in his last seven games after going 22 games without a goal and 19 without a point before that. "It was a great job by Raffi and Jannik to create the turnover, a great forecheck."

Cory Schneider stopped 28 shots as the Canucks remained a point ahead of Philadelphia, a 4-3 winner in overtime against the New York Islanders earlier in the evening.

"For some reason we've struggled in the second periods at times and we were flat there after a good first," Schneider said. "We said let's get an early one and get back in the lead and play our game. Manny scored a big goal for us and that's what we do best is play with a lead in the third period."

Conklin, playing for an injured Jaroslav Halak, made 24 saves for the Blues, who have lost three games in four days after winning their previous three. They 13th in the West, seven points out the final playoff spot.

And they're frustrated.

"It didn't seem like we were a team playing for our season," center Andy McDonald said. "We haven't been able to get that life, get that emotion and get that fire and it was evident tonight. We just didn't have it and obviously that's not going to be acceptable if you want to get in the postseason."

Samuelsson opened the scoring 9:42 into the game a setup from Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The assist gave Daniel a League-leading 79 points, two more than Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. Henrik is tied for third with 74 points.

Salo made it 2-0 at 16:47 with a blast from the top of the circle -- his first goal since late last season after missing the first four months recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in July.

"A lot of hard work since July and it felt good," Salo said. "Another small step towards trying to get back to the game I played before I was injured."

Pietrangelo had an empty net on the power play 6:27 into the second period after a perfect cross-crease pass from McDonald. Backes tied it at 7:41 when he ripped a slap shot past Schneider. The Blues neatly went ahead, but T.J. Oshie rang a shot off the crossbar a minute later and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk hit the post with four minutes left in the period. Schneider also made a big stop on Oshie in the middle period as the Blues buzzed his crease

"You need a little help," Schneider said, "and fortunately I got some,"

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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