Cory Schneider, Canucks hold off Blues

By Hosea Cheung, 24 hours Vancouver

St. Louis Blues Andy McDonald (left) dives while trying to score on Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider during Tuesday's game in Vancouver. (REUTERS)

St. Louis Blues Andy McDonald (left) dives while trying to score on Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider during Tuesday's game in Vancouver. (REUTERS)


Cory Schneider had repeatedly stressed after recent losses that he needed to come up with the big saves.

Tuesday night at Rogers Arena, the Vancouver Canucks goalie did just that against the St. Louis Blues. And he was finally rewarded for it.

After Schneider put together a superb first period — one that saw him make stellar stops on Alex Pietrangelo and Andy McDonald — the Canucks fed off their netminder's standout effort for an offensive explosion at the other end of the ice. But despite scoring three times in the second period, they still surrendered a pair of goals in the third to make what should have been a convincing win into a much closer game.

In the end though, thanks to some late time-wasting, the Canucks held on for a 3-2 victory over the Blues.

With that, the two-game skid is snapped. The naysayers and critics temporarily silenced. And the Canucks pick up their third win in the last five games — good enough to tie the Minnesota Wild again in points for first in the Northwest Division.

"You just need to find a way to make those saves," said Schneider, who improved to 7-5-3. "It's gotten to the time of the year where every point matters, every goal matters and you can't give away any freebies. It was nice to hold the fort there, and maybe not the way we want to do it but we'll take the win."

More impressively, they did so against a hot Blues squad, winners of five in their last six heading into Tuesday's matchup. St. Louis also featured the league's best power play and rookie goalie Jake Allen, who had lost just once in 10 appearances this season.

But thanks to Schneider, who was making his first start in five games, and his 32-save performance, it ended with a valuable two points.

"They had a few really good chances in the first and that's what you need from your goalie," Daniel Sedin said. "He saved us there and then we took over in the second."

Entering the game, the Blues had allowed the fewest shots against in the league. So it wasn't a complete surprise that the Canucks — on the second night of back-to-back games — managed just three shots through the scoreless first period, while their opponents fired 15 pucks on Schneider.

But how quickly that can change.

The Canucks were essentially a different team to start the second period. They made the most of their shots early, scoring twice in the first 4:12 with goals from Jannik Hansen — a top-corner slapper — and Daniel — who one-timed a pretty backhand feed from brother Henrik. The latter's tally was his first in nine games and a team-leading ninth of the season.

Vancouver added one more before the middle frame was up as rookie Jordan Schroeder set-up Dale Weise for a pretty score, his second of the year. It also gave Vancouver a three-goal cushion, which proved to be just enough.

The Blues scored twice in the final 20 minutes to make things interesting. Vladimir Tarasenko's shot went off the pants of Jaden Schwartz and in to ruin Schneider's shutout before Patrik Berglund converted on a lucky bounce when a slapper hit Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev up high.

"The third we kind of hunkered down a bit and there were some pretty good chances but both there goals were just sorta flukey bounces and they're in," Schneider said. "We overcame it tonight with an important win at home."

Allen finished with 16 saves for just his second regulation defeat of the year.

Zack Kassian, who fought Chris Stewart in the first period, did not return to the game after re-aggravating his back injury.

The Canucks head onto the road for three straight starting Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

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