The Canucks got strong goaltending, timely scoring and, wouldn’t you know it, they won.
The first period of Tuesday’s game was all the St. Louis Blues, except it was actually all Cory Schneider. The Canucks goaltender, after watching the last four games from the bench, was brilliant in the opening 20 minutes.
He was called upon to make 15 saves, as St. Louis pushed, unsuccessfully, for the opening goal.
His teammates decided to do their part in the second period, scoring three times in similarly spectacular fashion and helping the Canucks to a 3-2 victory at Rogers Arena. They had to hold off a third-period charge from the Blues.
“It was good to see a couple of shots early and get into it,” said Schneider, who made 32 saves.
“I’ve been trying to work hard and I feel I’ve been ready to make this next start and I needed a win. It’s been a while since I won a game, so it was an important win for us.”
The Canucks improved their record to 14-9-6 and move back into a tie with the Minnesota Wild atop the Northwest Division at 34 points.
The Wild hold the tiebreaker with fewer games played and they have more regulation-overtime wins. The Canucks are sixth in the Western Conference.
Schneider’s catalogue of saves included a theatrical glove stop on Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, who had his shot from the hash marks labelled for the top corner.
Later in the period, Schneider stretched out with the left pad to stop Andy McDonald in close.
It was the performance his team, reeling with only five wins in the past 16 games heading into Tuesday, desperately needed.
“It’s a big science, eh,” said head coach Alain Vigneault with a chuckle.
“I mean, (you) need great goaltending to win in this league and tonight we got a real solid performance from Cory. We were looking for our legs and our hands in the first period and he permitted us to find them and be real good in the second.”
And after not being on the same page – a common analogy with players afterward – in the first period, the Canucks came to life in the second.
Jannik Hansen got it started.
Using his blazing speed through the neutral zone, Hansen, in full flight, accepted a Mason Raymond pass and, from the top of the right faceoff circle, unleashed a laser of a slap shot past Blues goalie Jake Allen and top corner.
The goal, Hansen’s eighth of the season, temporarily put him into a tie with Daniel and Henrik Sedin for the team lead in that category.
Temporarily being the operative word.
Daniel Sedin busted out of an eight-game slump, capitalizing on a perfect backhand pass from behind the net by twin brother Henrik, giving Vancouver a two-goal lead.
“Right now I think I tried to stay patient and play the same way,” said Daniel Sedin.
“Do that and goals are going to come. It’s frustrating when you lose games. It’s tough when you’re supposed to score goals and the team’s losing, it’s really tough. I think it (would) hurt the team more if I started changing things and cheating and stuff like that.”
Dale Weise capped off the scoring for Vancouver. And it, too, was a thing of beauty.
Jordan Schroeder, recalled Monday from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, hit Weise with a pass just as the rugged forward was driving to the net, and Weise was able to chip his backhand past Allen.
Weise also led his team in registered hits with four.
The Blues made things interesting – and a tad uneasy for an already impatient fan base – in the third period.
Jaden Schwartz notched his third goal of the season to pull the Blues to within two goals early in the third period.
Patrik Berglund made it a 3-2 hockey game with just over six minutes remaining.
Kris Russell’s rising slap shot hit Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev up high, and the rebound came right to Berglund, who beat Schneider.
Tanev was in obvious pain and left the game.
“I didn’t ask but as far as I heard, he was fine,” Vigneault said after.
That wasn’t the only injury trouble the Canucks dealt with.
Winger Zack Kassian, who missed the previous two games with an ailing back, re-aggravated it in a first-period fight with Chris Stewart. Kassian played the rest of the period but didn’t come out for the second and did not return to the game.
He’s now listed as day-to-day and Vigneault couldn’t say if Kassian would make the team’s three-game road trip, which begins Thursday against Phoenix.