Canucks vs. Blues Preview
In Monday night's rematch, the Canucks will try for their longest road win streak in four seasons by taking advantage of the Blues' recent defensive struggles.
Vancouver (18-8-4) is 8-1-1 since Nov. 23 but suffered a 3-2 home defeat to St. Louis on Dec. 5. Alex Steen scored twice for the Blues (15-11-5), including the tiebreaking goal in the third period.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Canucks -119 money line favorites for Monday's game against the Blues. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 73% of more than 360 bets for this game have been placed on the Canucks -119.
Since that loss, the Canucks are 4-0-1 and Roberto Luongo has allowed four goals during a three-game win streak. He stopped 27 shots in a 4-1 victory over Toronto on Saturday night, including some key saves with Vancouver facing a two-man disadvantage in the first period.
The Blues, meanwhile, have given up 13 goals in their last three games and earned their lone win over that stretch by scoring six times against Los Angeles on Thursday night.
They trailed 3-0 midway through the second period Saturday night against San Jose en route to a 4-1 home loss.
"It's one of those games you want to stop thinking about because we play on Monday, but there's a lesson to be learned," said forward David Backes, who scored his team's only goal on a penalty shot. "We didn't make it hard enough for them and make them work for every inch they got."
Jaroslav Halak has given up four goals in each of his past two starts after allowing 17 in his previous nine.
Halak, though, is 3-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in his career against the Canucks, while Luongo is 2-3-0 with a 3.01 GAA in the last six appearances versus the Blues.
Vancouver is trying to win four straight on the road for the first time since March 19-April 7, 2007, but has seven victories in its last 25 games in St. Louis.
The Canucks, though, earned one of those wins during their previous matchup there Dec. 31. They overcame an early three-goal deficit for a 4-3 overtime victory on Christian Ehrhoff's power-play goal.
Ehrhoff also scored in his return from vertigo Saturday. He was originally diagnosed with a concussion after being hit in the head with a puck Dec. 8 against Anaheim.
"It helps out our defense," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "Having (Ehrhoff) there, we're a stronger team."
St. Louis, meanwhile, is 2-3-1 at home after starting 8-0-1 there this season. The team could get a boost Monday night with defenseman Roman Polak expected to return from right wrist surgery, which has kept him out since Oct. 23.
The Blues, though, are still without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forwards David Perron, Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie.
"St. Louis has always played us tough," Bieksa said. "We can't never take those guys lightly. They're a big, strong team. It's always a battle against them. Regardless of who's in their lineup, we can't expect anything less than a hard-fought game."
St. Louis is 4-1-1 overall against Vancouver since March 25, 2009. The Canucks' Ryan Kesler was held without a point in the previous meeting but has five goals and three assists in five games overall since then.