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Power play boosts Canucks to 3-0 series lead over Blues

NHL.com @NHL

ST. LOUIS - Roberto Luongo carried the Vancouver Canucks for two games. Specialty units helped them take a 3-0 series lead against the St. Louis Blues.

The Canucks scored three power-play goals, including Steve Bernier's go-ahead score in the opening minute of the third period, while again stifling their opponents' chances with the man advantage in a 3-2 victory Sunday night.

Vancouver, the third seed in the Western Conference, silenced a standing-room crowd of 19,500 for the Blues' first home playoff game in five seasons. The Canucks can finish off the sixth-seeded Blues in Game 4 on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Andy McDonald, frequently frustrated by Luongo the first two games, finally broke through to tie it 2-2 in the second period for the Blues, and added an assist. But St. Louis was shut out on five power plays, especially squandering early chances to seize control, and is 1-for-16 in the series.

Mattias Ohlund and Daniel Sedin also scored power-play goals for the Canucks, who were strong the last two periods after mustering five shots and trailing 1-0 after the first. And Luongo, who allowed one goal on 56 shots the first two games, made 24 saves and was good enough even if he wasn't the star that prompted a fans' "LuonGO Home" sign.

The go-ahead goal was a bit of a fluke, keyed by Sami Salo's wide shot from the point that took a lively bounce off the end boards and right to Henrik Sedin, who redirected the puck to Bernier alone in front of the net for an easy tap-in at 41 seconds of the third. Bernier scored his second career playoff goal in 26 games.

The Canucks capitalized on the Blues' lack of discipline at the start of the second period, scoring a pair of power-play goals in a span of 2:25 to take their first lead.

Blues coach Andy Murray used his timeout after Ohlund's shot from the right point squirted between Chris Mason's pads at 7:53. But Jay McClement was whistled for holding the stick about a half-minute later, his second straight trip to the penalty box, and Daniel Sedin poked in the go-ahead goal just before a flailing Mason could glove the puck at 10:18.

The Blues were outshot 11-3 the first 12-plus minutes of the period before rallying on McDonald's tying goal at 16:13. McDonald banged three shots off the goal post or crossbar in the Canucks' 3-0 Game 2 victory, also Luongo's first career playoff shutout, before finally beating the goalie off a blistering cross-ice feed from David Perron to tie it at 16:13.

Backes' first goal in six games gave the Blues their first lead of the series. McDonald got the puck in deep after passing off the boards to himself, and Backes scored off Brad Boyes' feed from behind the net at 3:11.

St. Louis missed many more chances, though, totalling just three shots in 6:34 of power play time while rarely getting a chance to set up shop in the offensive zone. That included 1:26 with a two-man advantage after Willie Mitchell was whistled for a double minor midway through the period.

Notes: Blues F Yan Stastny skated in the pre-game after being recalled from Peoria (AHL) earlier in the day, but was among the scratches. ... The Canucks scratched C Mats Sundin, who got the first goal in Vancouver's 3-0 Game 2 victory but has been nursing a groin injury. Sundin practised Saturday before the flight to St. Louis. ... Backes had five goals in two games earlier this month, including four against the Red Wings on April 2, but had been limited to one assist in his previous five games.

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