Kevin Shattenkirk assisted on two power-play goals in the third period after earning another assist earlier in the game Thursday night. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)
By Rob Rains
Coach Mike Yeo had a pretty simple message to his players after the second period Thursday night, when the Blues were locked in a 2-2 game against the Vancouver Canucks at Scottrade Center.
“He came in and just said, ‘it hasn’t been our best but we have an opportunity to win this game,’” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “We all knew if we won this one it was kind of going to be the sweetest one we’ve had in the last two weeks. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t one we were just handed. We had to work for it.”
That work came in the third period, when Shattenkirk earned assists on power play goals by Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen that gave the Blues their sixth consecutive win, a 4-3 victory over the Canucks.
Tarasenko scored his 27th goal of the year 58 seconds into the period on a power play that carried over from the second period, breaking the 2-2 tie.
“We really just told ourselves we needed to create momentum more than anything,” Shattenkirk said. “That’s important when you are starting the period on a power play. It sets the tone for the whole team.”
Just 1:16 later, the Canucks’ Henrik Sedin was given a double minor penalty for high sticking, and the Blues capitalized on a goal by Alexander Steen to increase the lead to 4-2, allowing them to withstand a goal later in the period by Brandon Sutter.
The six-game winning streak is the longest of the season by the Blues, and improved their record to 7-1 since Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1. That is the best record for a coach in his first eight games with the team in franchise history.
“Through two periods I would say in a lot of ways it was frustrating, didn’t look the way we would like for it to look,” Yeo said. “What really impressed me was our response in the third period.
“You can’t just flip the switch but I think our guys regrouped nicely and recognized the areas we needed to do better and went out and got the job done. It was a simple matter of looking at what we weren’t doing well enough and making sure that we corrected it.”
One of those areas was the power play, where the Blues had been winning recently despite not being productive when they had the man advantage. They had scored only one power play goal on 13 opportunities in their last six games coming into Thursday night’s game and then were 0-for-2 in the first two periods against the Canucks.
“We weren’t happy with the way the power play was clicking in the first two and got an opportunity to regroup in the intermission,” Steen said. “We came out with some fire and jump and were able to get two.”
The teams traded goals through the first two periods, with the Blues getting first-period goals from Magnus Paajarvi and Jori Lehtera while the Canucks capitalized on a turnover by Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester in the first period for a goal by Bo Horvat and got a goal from Henrik Sedin in the second period to send the game to the third period tied at 2.
The loss was the fourth on a six-game road trip for the Canucks, and kept them on the outside of a playoff spot.
Goalie Jacob Markstrom blamed himself for the loss.
“I was awful,” he said after allowing the four Blues goals on 21 shots. “That's not acceptable especially when we played such a great game. We scored three goals in a tough building. … We knew we were going to have a good chance and when we play a good game like this and then the poor play by me, it's very disappointing. I let down the team for sure tonight.
“It just can't happen. We can't afford that right now.”
NOTES: RW Nail Yakupov took the place of LW Scottie Upshall in the Blues' lineup. D Robert Bortuzzo also was inserted into the lineup in place of D Carl Gunnarsson. The latter two have alternated the last five games. ... The Blues, who went 5-0 on their recent road trip, will be right back on the road, playing Saturday in Buffalo. ... C Paul Stastny could return to the St. Louis lineup for that game after missing three games with a lower-body injury. … After Saturday’s game, the Blues return home to play Florida on Monday night before their league-mandated week off.