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Canucks try to cool off surging Blues

by Deborah Francisco

BLUES (16-10-2) at CANUCKS (13-8-6)

TV: FS-Midwest, SNET-Pacific

Last 10: St. Louis 6-4-0, Vancouver 3-5-2

Season series: This is the second time this season these Western Conference foes will meet. Their first contest resulted in a 4-3 shootout victory for the Blues on Feb. 17. They will play once more this season in St. Louis on April 16..

Big story: The Canucks have dropped out of first place in the Northwest Division and are seventh in the West with 32 points. That's two behind the Blues, who are fifth.

Team Scope:

Blues: The Blues are looking for their fourth straight win and sixth in seven games. Of the Blues' six victories in the month of March, Chris Stewart has notched points in five of those games with a total of 15 points (7G-8A) in his last nine games including the overtime game-winning goal in the Blues 2-1 win over the Ducks on Saturday.

"Guys have been dropping all year and guys have been stepping up," said Stewart, the NHL's First Star of the Week after scoring five times in three games. "[Alex Pietrangelo] goes down with the flu and you look at Ian Cole, who's been out the last four or five games, he steps up and he has a great game for us. It's going to be scary when we do get healthy. I think we're going to be getting healthy around the right time of the year. We're going to be a team to be reckoned with."

The Blues have gotten a big boost from the impressive play of rookie goaltender Jake Allen, who improved to 8-1-0 on the season with his 27-save performance in Saturday's 2-1 overtime win against Anaheim.

"When you've got goaltending like this and it gives you a chance to win every night," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He makes hard saves look routine, which calms everybody down on the bench."

Canucks: The Canucks have a quick turnaround after Monday's 3-1 home loss to Minnesota allowed the Wild to jump on top in the Northwest Division. It was the Canucks' 11th loss in 16 games.

The one good note was that the Canucks did snap a power-play drought that stretched back to Feb. 21 and had reached 36 unsuccessful attempts. Henrik Sedin's second-period power-play tally ended the drought but was Vancouver's lone goal against the Wild.

"In the end it's not about the power play goals, it's about the [wins], and we didn't win tonight," coach Alain Vigneault said.

Who's hot: Stewart leads the Blues in goals (14), assists (14) and points (28) and had five goals and seven points in three games last week.

Injury report: Blues forward T.J. Oshie suffered an upper-body injury during the second period of the March 12 game against the San Jose Sharks and was placed on injured reserve. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is day-to-day with the flu. …The Canucks are without forwards David Booth (ankle), Zach Kassian (back) and Ryan Kesler (foot).

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