Canucks blow lead, but edge Blues in shootout

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By Kevin Woodley

Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

 

(ISN) – VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues took turns coughing up big leads at Rogers Arena on Sunday.

Vancouver forward Chris Higgins finally gave the Canucks a lead they couldn’t relinquish, scoring in the third round of the shootout to lead the Canucks to a wild 6-5 win.

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

 

After St. Louis hit two posts early in overtime, Nick Bonino, Radim Vrbata and Higgins all beat Jake Allen in the shootout, and Eddie Lack’s save on a tough T.J. Oshie deke was enough for the victory.

Ryan Reaves and Alex Pietrangelo staked the Blues to an early lead despite playing the night before, but it didn’t last long; the Canucks built a 5-2 lead before collapsing themselves in the third period.

Shawn Matthias and Yannick Weber started the comeback in the first period, Jannik Hansen and Henrik Sedin put the Canucks ahead in the second and Nick Bonino made it 5-2 six minutes into the third.

But Dmitrij Jaskin scored a power-play goal 8:18 into the third period, and Petteri Lindholm and David Backes scored 1:12 apart with five minutes left to help the Blues rally late.

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

 

Allen gave up four goals on 21 shots through two periods before being pulled in favor of No. 1 Brian Elliott to start the third period. But Elliott, who backstopped a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, left again after Bonino’s goal. After coming out for a brief conversation with coach Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, Elliott spent the rest of the game back in the dressing room.

Allen returned and made another four saves, including a breakaway stop on Bo Horvat with 2:22 left. The Blues (40-18-5) pulled within four points of the Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

Lack made 34 saves in his third straight start since No. 1 Ryan Miller injured his right knee. Vancouver (36-23-3) moved five points ahead of the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division.

Despite playing the night before, St. Louis jumped out to a rare early lead, scoring twice in the first period for the first time in eight games.

Reaves opened the scoring 3:02 into the game after a nice cycle by fellow fourth-liners Marcel Goc and Steve Ott and a broken stick for Canucks defenseman Alex Biega left the Blues right wing all alone in the slot. Reaves one-timed a cross-ice pass from Ott and the puck went in off the bottom of Lack’s outstretched blocker.

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

 

Pietrangelo doubled the lead three minutes later after defenseman Luca Sbisa fell coming out of his zone and St. Louis countered off the rush. A nice passing play from Oshie and Backes left Pietrangelo alone in the high slot for a shot over Lack’s glove.

Coming off a tough five-game road trip and still missing seven injured regulars, the Canucks got back into the game 85 seconds later when Matthias finished a 2-on-1 pass from Higgins for his 16th goal of the season. Allen sprawled across to get a good piece of the Matthias one-touch in tight, but the puck rolled in off the bottom of his blocker.

Weber tied it 2:16 later with a point shot through traffic after a good cycle from Vrbata and Derek Dorsett. The goals came from two lines that were mixed up after the road trip ended with a disappointing loss to the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Lack, who was beaten by two of the first five shots he faced, kept it tied with a head-first diving save off Jaden Schwartz with seven minutes left in the first period after the skilled Blues forward was left all alone in front of the net with enough time to deke around Lack.

Lack made another good stop with his blocker on Jori Lehtera from the slot late in the period, and he and Allen traded great saves on shots from the slot a minute apart early in the second period.

Hansen gave Vancouver its first lead after Allen misplayed a sharp angle backhand into his own net midway through the period.

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

 

It sounded like a whistle had blown before the puck finally trickled in over the goal line. Replays showed the puck rolled off his body and in between the top of his pads, and Allen knocked it back with the top of his left pad, and into the net with the back of his lower left leg. The officials huddled and determined the original shot crossed the line and video review supported that decision.

Sedin made it 4-2 with 2:08 left in the period, lifting a rebound over a sprawled Allen after defenseman Dan Hamhuis did a nice job pinching in below the net to keep a cycle going, then got back to the point and walked the blue line to get a screened shot on goal.

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

 

Jaskin started the comeback into an empty net on a power play, and Lindholm kept it going after a nice passing play off the rush by Vladimir Tarasenko and Schwartz left him alone atop the left faceoff circle for a shot that beat Lack on the short-side with 5:41 left.

Backes tied it after a nice pass from behind the net from Oshie, jamming the puck past Lack from the top of the crease.

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