Eddie Lack recorded 30 saves and Mike Santorelli scored the game-winning goal to give the Vancouver Canucks a 2-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Arena Friday night. It was Vancouver’s first victory in six games.
"We tried to stay aggressive and we found a way to win,” head coach John Tortorella said. “Lack was really good tonight. He made key saves."
Lack started the eighth time in nine games for regular No. 1 goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has battled separate injuries in the past month. Lack’s record improved to 8-3-3 in his first NHL season.
The Canucks were riding an 0-2-3 stretch while being outscored 18-13 in that span. The team’s last victory came on Dec. 29 when they defeated the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome, 2-0.
On the other hand, the loss snapped the Blues’ seven-game winning streak, which was the longest active streak in the NHL and was the franchise’s best stretch since a nine-game run from Oct. 15 to Nov. 5, 2002. The team’s last loss came on Dec. 23 to the Flames in a 4-3 shootout decision.
The final goal came at 5:56 of the third period after a quick rush into the Blues’ zone. After the puck popped into the high slot, defenseman Jason Garrison rifled a shot that was deflected by Santorelli, who was scoreless in five previous contests, in front of goalie Brian Elliott for the forward’s 10th tally and his third game-winning goal of the season.
"I wasn't good enough early on," said Santorelli, who was demoted from the first line to the fourth line. "Too many turnovers, so it was deserving. It doesn't matter who scores. It was good to get the two points and hopefully get things on the right track here."
There was no scoring in the first period as St. Louis looked like the stronger club, outshooting Vancouver 8-1 in the first 10 minutes and 12-5 through the first 20 minutes. But it was the Canucks who took charge early in the second.
After Lack stopped winger Jaden Schwartz on a three-on-one chance, the Canucks applied pressure in the Blues’ zone. Daniel Sedin fired a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle and it was deflected by linemate Zac Dalpe, who was in the midst of fighting off a check from defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, to beat Elliott for his second of the season at 1:31 of the second period.
"It was greasy but they all count," Dalpe said.
"I didn't see him take the shot,” added Elliott, “there was a couple bodies in front, but that one shouldn't go in.”
But the Blues made sure that the win would not come easy for the Canucks.
At 7:49 of the same period, Bouwmeester slid the puck across the blue line to defensive partner Alex Pietrangelo, who fired a slap shot through multiple bodies and past Lack’s glove to add his seventh goal of the season and to tie the game at 1-1. Russian Olympian Vladimir Tarasenko did not receive an assist on the play, but shook off Daniel Sedin by letting the puck slip through his legs and directly to the stick of Pietrangelo.
“[It was] an unbelievable play by Vladi,” said Pietrangelo. “He’s really been finding his groove as of late.”
The Blues’ best chance to find the equalizer came at 9:41 of the final period when forward T.J. Oshie found David Backes in front of the net and the Blues captain redirected it toward the net. Lack was there to squeeze the pads together and cover the puck.
Despite a late push by the Blues with their net empty, the Canucks held strong to pull away with a hard-fought victory.
Elliott made 20 saves in the loss, which was just his second of the season and first since Nov. 29. He recorded two shutouts in that span.
"We've been scoring some goals and getting a lot of wins lately so you expect to win every night so it's tough when you don't," said Elliott, who appeared in his 20th game of the season. "We have a homestand coming to make it up."
The Blues, who were 9-1-1 in their previous 11 games, fell to 7-2-0 when tied after two periods, while the Canucks improved to 9-5-3 under the same circumstances. This was the second meeting between the two teams, with the first ending with a Ryan Kesler overtime goal on Oct. 25 in St. Louis to push the Canucks to a 3-2 victory. The final meeting of the regular season will be played on Feb. 26 at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks will head to Los Angeles to battle the Kings Monday evening while the Blues will return home to host the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.