Canucks overpower Blues

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:27 PM ET

St. LOUIS –- It started with a stirring rendition of the old expansion days 'Blues Come Marching In' theme song and ended with the St. Louis Blues set up to march out in the minimum number of games.

Without Mats Sundin in the line-up, the Vancouver Canucks scored a 3-2 win to take a stranglehold 3-0 lead in their first round Stanley Cup playoff series.

“It was another hard-fought games by two team playing hard,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

“Our penalty killing was perfect and the power play scored three goals.”

After losing the first two games of the Western Conference series to the Canucks in Vancouver, the Blues returned home to a loud crowd and a special scene for openers from the 19.500 fans who hadn't experienced a playoff game here since April 13, 2004.

While the Blues have only managed to come back from being down 2-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series once in their history, the fans stood waiting for Charles Glenn to sing the old 'Blues Come Marching In' blast from the past and remained on their feet untll the Blues took the ice for the opening faceoff.

While there were some eyebrows raised when North Vancouver product Paul Kariya took the ice at the St. Louis morning skate, he did not dress for the game but that didn't dilute the scene.

Kariya, who had surgery on both hips, played only 11 games this season.

The eyebrows really went up when the Canucks took the ice for the game and there was no No. 13 in the line-up.

Former Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Sundin, who joined the Canucks as a $5.6 million second-half-of-the season rental and had played poorly in the first two games (despite tipping in the winning goal in Game 2) was scratched in favor of Jannik Hansen.

Sundin, who played with a black eye in Game 2 after having taken a puck to the face in practice between games in Vancouver, was listed with a lower body injury.

“Day to day,” said Vigneault, who said the injury came in the first period of Game 2.

Once the puck was dropped, the scoreboard informed the fans of the little known fact that St. Louis Blues had won their last seven Game 3s of the playoffs.

No sooner than the data was dispensed to the capacity crowd in the Scottrade Centre, David Backes scored at 3:11 of the first period to give St, Louis a 1-0 lead which they took to the first period dressing room It was Andy McDonald, the best of the Blues in the two games in Vancouver, to start the play to get one in the net for St. Louis for the first time since the second period in Game 1.

McDonald passed the puck to Brad Boyes who sent it out front to Backles to put it behind Luongo with the third St. Louis shot on goal of the night.

The Blues had a great chance to expand the lead to 2-0 with 1:26 of five-on-three hockey but couldn't get anything going. By the end of the first frame the Blues had managed to out-shoot the Canucks 12-5.

Vancouver managed to hang in there until the Blues started to self destruct midway in the second period.

A pair of penalties by Jay McClement, the second of which created a five-on-three resulted in a soft five hole goal by Mattias Ohlund at 7:58 and another.

But the most snake-bit player on the team, McDonald, after a collection of goal posts and crossbars, finally found the twine to even up the game at 2-2 at 16:15 of the sandwich session to keep the crowd loud.

A penalty to Brandon Crombeen for roughing at the end of the period in scrum which began with a hit by Steve Bernier resulted in a power play goal by Bernier to give the Canucks a 3-2 lead.

A 5-on-3 power play for 1:03 midway in the third period failed for the Blues. It was their third 5-on-3 in the series without success. And the Blues left the ice with a 1-for-17 record on the power play. More than anything that tells the story.

Backes ended the game with a crosscheck to the throat area of Alexander Edler for a double minor which will no doubt be reviewed by the league today.


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