Canucks, Santorelli rebound to top Blues
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks center Mike Santorelli turned a poor start into a great finish Friday night.
The same went for the rest of his team.
After he was pulled off the top line early in the first period for poor play, Santorelli scored at 5:56 of the third period to give the Canucks a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. In the process, he helped the Canucks (24-13-9) end their losing their streak at five games and nixed a personal scoring drought that had lasted over the same span.
"The chances have been there, and it was nice to finally get one," said Santorelli.
He received credit for the winner after defenseman Jason Garrison's shot went in off him following a botched St. Louis clearing attempt during a scramble.
The Canucks prevailed after squandering late leads in recent games. In their previous contest, Vancouver allowed Pittsburgh to overcome a late two-goal deficit and win in a shootout.
"We needed to get that done," said Santorelli, after the Canucks staved off the Blues' persistent efforts to tie the contest in the closing seconds.
While Vancouver ended its losing skid, the Blues (31-8-5) saw their winning streak end at seven games. They lost on the road for the first time in 10 away contests.
"We had all our chances in the first period, when it looked like they still had the debris left over from the previous game," said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock. "And if we would have taken advantage of that, it would have been a different game."
Forward Zac Dalpe also scored for the Canucks. Defenseman Frank Pietrangelo tallied for the Blues.
Vancouver goaltender Eddie Lack stopped 30 of 31 shots, while St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott recorded 20 saves on 22 shots.
The Canucks were blanked on two power plays, and the Blues failed to score on their lone man-advantage attempt.
"It stops the bleeding for a day (or) two," said Canucks coach John Tortorella. "I thought after a really tentative first period we started playing better. You could see we were fighting some confidence. Hopefully, this will help us a little bit as we try to get some traction here."
The Blues were playing their second of back-to-back games, but it was the Canucks who struggled in the first period. The Canucks committed careless errors and looked lethargic as the Blues, displaying a strong forecheck from the get-go, enjoyed a big edge in shots in the early going.
As a result, Santorelli, a journeyman free agent signing who has been a pleasant surprise since training camp lost his spot alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin because he was "fighting it" in the coach's view.
But Santorelli was not the only who ticked Tortorella off. He revamped all four of his forward units.
"I don't think we played that well early, so we just changed things up," said Tortorella.
St. Louis outshot the Canucks 12-5 in the first 20 minutes, but the Blues were unable to beat Lack, who was sharp while his teammates were not.
After struggling in the first period, Dalpe looked at home on the top line 1:31 into the second period as he deflected in winger Daniel Sedin's pass to put the Canucks on the scoreboard first.
Pietrangelo drew the Blues even at 7:49 of the second as he barely kept fellow defenseman Jay Bouwmeester's off-kilter pass along the blue-line inside the Canucks' zone and blasted a slap shot past a screened Lack.
The Blues tried to wage a frantic rally at the end with Elliott pulled for an extra attacker, but the Canucks managed to hold them off, thanks largely to timely saves from Lack, who was sharp throughout the game.
"We've talked a lot about (the need to) close games out," said Lack. "I think this is really important for the confidence, to show that we can close things again and get the win."
NOTES: Blues D Jay Bouwmeester, the NHL's active ironman, played in his 680th consecutive NHL game and Canucks C Henrik Sedin, who ranks second in that category, played in his 675th straight. But Sedin did not take faceoffs because of an apparent injury that coach John Tortorella has refused to discuss. ... G Eddie Lack started in place of injured No. 1 G Roberto Luongo (ankle) for the third straight game and for the eighth time in the past nine. Luongo, who was named to Canada's Olympic team, returned for one game from an undisclosed injury but was hurt again. ... Blues C Alex Steen, the team's top scorer, missed his ninth consecutive game with a concussion. ... Canucks LW David Booth was a healthy scratch for the second straight game, but RW Dale Weise returned to the lineup after being scratched against Pittsburgh. ... St. Louis C Max Lapierre played his first game in Vancouver after leaving the Canucks as a free agent during the summer. ... Vancouver LW Tom Sestito played in the 100th game of his NHL career.