By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – A slow start and a struggling power play doomed the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.
Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist, and Jake Allen finished with 31 saves as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Canucks 4-3.
The score flattered the hosts, who were down 3-0 halfway through the game and only really started to push late in the third period with the score already 4-1, getting two consolation goals to make things interesting in the dying seconds.
“I didn’t think we played well enough to be in this game,” said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin. “We’re a team that battles and you’ve got to give us some credit for that, but a little too late.
“We have to have a better start.”
Something else that needs to be better is a power play that finished 0 for 5 and is now just 1 for 18 through the season’s first five games.
The Canucks trailed 3-1 after two periods on Friday, but could do nothing with the two minutes 33 seconds left on Vladimir Tarasenko’s double minor for high sticking on a fresh sheet of ice to start the third.
“You’ve got to trust in what you do,” said Sedin. “We’re not making the plays we know we can.”
Jori Lehtera, Robert Bortuzzo and Kyle Brodziak had the other goals for St. Louis (4-1-0), which has won three straight and was playing its second game in as many nights after downing the Oilers 4-2 in Edmonton on Thursday.
Tarasenko and Carl Gunnarsson chipped in with two assists each.
“We just wanted to come in and play a good game,” said Steen. “We made it much tighter game than we had too. Jake was unbelievable in the net. I’m proud of our guys.”
Brandon Sutter, with a goal and two assists, Jared McCann and Daniel Sedin replied for Vancouver (3-1-1), which has dropped its only two home games of the young season.
Ryan Miller made 28 saves in taking the loss for the Canucks, who entered play with a perfect 6-0-0 record against the Blues over the last two seasons and were 9-0-2 in the clubs’ last 11 meetings dating back to January 2012.
Lehtera opened the scoring at 7:36 of the first period with his second of the season before Steen added his third by finishing off a pretty passing play with Tarasenko and Paul Stastny at 4:52 of the second after Vancouver defenceman Alexander Edler turned the puck over in the neutral zone.
Bortuzzo then stretched the lead to three with his first at 10:01 when he banged a rebound past Miller, who was acquired by the Blues prior to the 2014 trade deadline before signing with the Canucks as a free agent that summer.
“I didn’t think overall we were quite sharp (enough) early,” said Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardins. “Just a half step slow, and we needed that half step against a good team.”
Coming off back-to-back road victories against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver cut the deficit to 3-1 while killing a penalty at 12:38 when Sutter moved in on a 2-on-1 rush and beat Allen with a low shot for his second.
After the Canucks couldn’t do anything with the Tarasenko double minor on either side of the second intermission, Brodziak scored his first at 16:14 to make it 4-1 before McCann batted his second home 30 seconds later.
Daniel Sedin scored his second with 28.8 seconds left on the clock to get the Canucks to within one, and had another late chance, but missed the net from in close.
“They kind of did what they needed to do early and then we got better,” said Miller. “A little too late, but a good push by our guys. We probably need to be better early â€” all of us.”
Notes: Stastny left in the second period and did not return. … Coming into Friday, the Blues had not beaten the Canucks since April 16, 2013. … Vancouver hosts the Oilers on Sunday in the second game of five-game homestand, while St. Louis visits the Winnipeg Jets. … The Canucks dressed McCann and Jake Virtanen, both 19, marking the first time the team had played two teenagers since Rob Murphy (19) and Trevor Linden (18) suited up on Nov. 13, 1988.
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