One goal is enough as Canucks blank Blues
Rookie reserve goalie Lack nets shutout
There were 16 Olympians dressed for Wednesday's return to NHL action at Rogers Arena, but it was a backup goalie who led the way as the Vancouver Canucks beat the St. Louis Blues 1-0 at Rogers Arena.
Jannik Hansen, a checking right winger, broke a scoreless tie on a breakaway at 11:13 of the third period. He took a long backhand feed from fourth-liner Tom Sestito, darted through the St. Louis defense pairing of Roman Polak and Carlo Colaiacovo and beating Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak cleanly.
At the other end of the ice, rookie reserve goalie Eddie Lack stopped all 20 shots he faced to improve his record to 9-8-3, and 3-0 against St. Louis this season.
"We needed that win," Hansen said. "We worked together for 60 minutes tonight, and Eddie was very good.
"We know we need wins. You don't have to look at the standings very hard or very long to realize our situation."
The win moved the Canucks (28-24-9) a point ahead of the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes into third place in the Western Conference, but those two teams have three games in hand on Vancouver.
St. Louis (39-13-6) remains in second in the West, a point behind the Anaheim Ducks but with two games in hand.
"We know they need every point they can get," St. Louis right winger T.J. Oshie said. "Overall their team did a good job, including their goalie, they kept pushing and pushing, but I don't think we tested (Lack) as much as we could tonight."
Halak, whose Team Slovakia failed to make the medal round at the Sochi Olympics, has been back in North America since Feb. 20.
That was not the case for the eight players, four per team, who took part in the medal games in Russia.
Oshie, who played for Team USA, said it wasn't necessarily the time difference -- 12 hours for Canucks, 10 for the Blues -- but the dimension of the ice that took getting used to again.
With an NHL rink 15 feet narrower than the international dimensions, the ice seemed longer, Oshie said.
"In the first period, we were really sluggish, especially my line," he said. "It just looked like the ice went on and on down the boards.
"After that, I thought we picked it up."
Hansen now leads his more-famous teammate, left winger Daniel Sedin, a former NHL scoring champion, 2-0 in goals the past 20 games.
The Canucks snapped a seven-game losing streak.
"Everybody contributed, everybody played really well away from the puck," said Vancouver coach John Tortorella, whose team outshot St. Louis 35-20. "We did a number of good things, we got pucks at the net, but you have to play good defense to win, and we did that tonight.
"We just stayed within ourselves, stayed with our game."
The Canucks were 10-1-1 through most of December, but they were 4-13-3 since then heading into Wednesday's game.
"It's a step at a time trying to regain our standing," Tortorella said.
Canucks center Ryan Kesler, a member of Team USA at Sochi, did not dress.
Kesler hurt his hand blocking a shot by Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk in the preliminary round. He played the rest of the tournament, including a 1-0 semifinal loss to Canada and 5-0 bronze-medal loss to Finland, but did not skate after returning Monday.
He and the Canucks are awaiting results from an MRI exam.
Still, Kesler was the focus or a rumor, begun during the Olympics, that he might be traded despite a no-trade clause in his contract.
Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis would neither deny or confirm the report.
Kesler's agent, Kurt Overhardt, denied the rumors to the Denver Post.
NOTES: Vancouver (G Roberto Luongo, D Dan Hamhuis) and St. Louis (D Alex Pietrangelo, D Jay Bouwmeester) each had two players on gold-medal-winning Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics. LW Daniel Sedin and D Alex Edler of the Canucks, C Patrik Berglund and LW Alexander Steen of the Blues won silver medals with Team Sweden. ... In all, 10 Blues players represented their countries at the Olympics, an NHL-high shared with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. ... Blues RW T.J. Oshie took six of eight U.S. shootout attempts in pool play against Russia, scoring on four of them, including the winner. ... C Henrik Sedin, the Canucks captain who missed the Olympics because of a rib injury, returned to the lineup after sitting out eight of the 10 games leading up to the Olympic break. ... Daniel Sedin, the 2011 NHL scoring champion, had not scored in 19 games heading into Wednesday's resumption of play. He was 1-4-5 in six games for Sweden at Sochi.
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