ST. LOUIS – T.J. Oshie stuck his nose into traffic and got rewarded twice. David Backes risked his body on the go-ahead goal.
It was the kind of dirty work that got the World Series champion Cardinals in the house on their feet.
Oshie matched career bests with two goals and three points and Backes scored on his own rebound early in the third period of a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.
“To get goals in this league, you’ve got to go to the tough areas,” Oshie said. “Long overdue. The first 10-11 games I’ve been a little too perimeter. In this league you have to go to tough areas to score goals.”
Oshie, who totalled five points the first 11 games, got both of his goals on rebounds. Plus, his line helped shut down the Sedin line, with Daniel and Henrik Sedin a combined minus-3.
The Blues have beaten the Canucks twice in nine days, both times with backup goalie Brian Elliott in the nets ahead of the slumping Jaroslav Halak. Coach Davis Payne was noncommittal about a starter for Saturday night in Minnesota.
“The coals are still smouldering,” Payne said. “We’ll wait till they cool down.”
Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler scored for the Canucks, who were a lot more competitive than in the previous night’s 5-1 loss at Minnesota.
“We scored the first and then they tied it right away, and then we score and tie the game in the third and they get a goal right away,” forward Henrik Sedin said. “That’s why we’ve got to be stronger.”
The Blues paid tribute to the Cardinals throughout the game, only their second at home in the last 10.
Tony La Russa lugged the championship trophy to centre ice for a ceremonial puck drop. Game 7 winner Chris Carpenter and MVP David Freese also participated with Carpenter’s son, Sam doing the honours.
Footage of La Russa and Freese applauding was shown after Backes scored on his own rebound to make it 3-2 at 5:59 of the third. Backes and the Henrik Sedin participated in the puck drop.
“Stay around there and keep digging until the whistle blows. It’s no secret that’s where goals are scored,” Backes said. “You pay a price to get there, but that’s where you need to be.”
On the go-ahead goal, Luongo said the puck got stuck in his gear.
“Then he kind of stuck his stick between my legs and tried to loosen it in,” Luongo said. “Those are the breaks of the game and unfortunately it wasn’t a good one.”
Still wearing a Blues No. 10 jersey, La Russa visited with Payne after the game and came away saying the finish had made him nervous.
“The recognition of a future Hall of Famer coming down just to congratulate you on what was a great night for them, it’s an honour,” Payne said. “We were talking in-game stuff, how the decisions have to be made in our game so quickly and how he goes about making his decisions.
“I’m just trying to scrape as much off that mind as I can.”
Kesler scored on a rebound after Elliott couldn’t control a shot high off his body by Dan Hamhuis to tie it early in the third. Blues forward Chris Stewart accidentally swatted the puck into the net as it rolled down Elliott’s back.
NOTES: Elliott is 5-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average, Halak 1-5 with a 3.58 goals-against. … The Blues are 4-1-1 in their last six at home against Vancouver. … Burrows has two goals and an assist his last three games. He left in the second period with an undisclosed injury. … The Blues have sold out 45 consecutive games. … Stewart hasn’t scored a goal in nine straight games and played only 11:49.