VANCOUVER – After living through some bad times goaltender Brian Elliott is enjoying the roll the St. Louis Blues are on.
Elliott stopped 32 shots and centre Alexander Steen scored two goals as the Blues extended their winning streak to three games with a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night.
“Sometimes you can get on a roll like that,” said a smiling Elliott as he peeled off his equipment in the Blues’ dressing room.
“Our team is playing so well right now. Guys are getting in shot lanes and blocking shots. Nothing really got through. All the guys are in it together. All the guys are buying into it and wanting to win every game.”
Elliott, who signed a US$600,000 free-agent contract this summer to be the Blues’ backup, has won all four of his starts. He also has been in net for St. Louis’ last three wins.
“He’s played great for us,” said Steen. “We are winning hockey games.
“I thought tonight there was a couple of times when Vancouver pushed us down in our own end. He just kind of calmed things down.”
The shutout was Elliott’s first of the season and 10th of his career.
“You can’t get too satisfied,” he said. “You sit back a little bit and it comes to bite you.
“I try to keep an even keel. Every time I get in three I just keep doing the same thing.”
The Blues improved their record to 5-4-0. They are 3-3-0 on the road.
The Canucks lost for the second time in as many nights and saw their record fall to 4-5-1. The Stanley Cup finalists have given up the opening goal eight times in 10 games and have held the lead going into the third period just once.
“We can be better in a lot of areas,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “We’re not generating the type of chances that I think this group is capable of generating.
“We’re playing under our level right now.”
Schneider played well in his fourth start of the season, adding more fire to the heated debate over whether he or Roberto Luongo should see more ice time.
Schneider looked confident and always seemed to be in position. He was frustrated over allowing Steen’s second goal, a long shot from the boards, just above the faceoff circle, which made the score 2-0.
“The second goal was just a back-breaker for our team,” said Schneider, who made 28 saves but saw his record fall to 2-2-0. “It sucked the wind out of our sails.
“It was frustrating for me not to keep our team closer.”
After sleepwalking through the first two periods the Canucks outshot the Blues 17-6 in the third but couldn’t beat Elliott.
“We faced some pressure,” said St. Louis coach Davis Payne. “You’re going against a good hockey team that can make some pushes.
“Els was sharp back there. He had to make some key saves.”
With the game 2-0, and the Canucks swarming the net, Elliott stopped an Alex Burrows shot on the goal line. Earlier he stoned Daniel Sedin on a rebound.
Patrik Berglund scored the other St. Louis goal late in the third period. Kevin Shattenkirk had two assists.
Steen has scored five goals in eight games. He also has nine goals in 15 career games against Vancouver.
“It’s always fun playing the Canadian teams,” said Steen. “You get pumped up for the games.”
The sellout crowd of 18,860 had little to cheer about as the Blues used some tight checking to prevent the Canucks from using their speed early in the game.
“That’s the type of game we wanted to play,” said Elliott.
“We wanted to shut it down and take their crowd out of it right away.”
The Canucks played the second of back-to-back games after losing 3-2 in Edmonton Tuesday night. Luongo started that game but was pulled after allowing three goals on four shots in a five-minute span in the second period.
Both the Blues and Canucks have seen their starting goaltenders struggle.
Luongo, a Vezina Trophy nominee last year, has a 2-3-1 record and has allowed 19 goals for a 3.46 goals-against average. The Blues’ Jaroslav Halak is 1-4 and has a 3.47 goals-against.
Elliott started last year with the Ottawa Senators but was traded to Colorado where he won just two of 11 decisions.
He was happy the Blues gave him another chance.
“In an off-season like that you are not happy with yourself,” he said. “I don’t think I played terrible last year, we just had bad breaks and injuries. A lot of things went wrong.
“Just coming back and getting an opportunity with these guys knowing it’s a good young team. They are definitely on the rise and I wanted to be part of it.”
Notes: The Vancouver coaching staff wore lavender coloured ties as part of an NHL promotion to fight cancer. …Defenceman Alexander Sulzer, signed as a free agent last summer, dressed for his first game as a Canuck, replacing Andrew Alberts. …Sami Salo has 19 game-winning goals, leaving him tied with Mattias Ohlund for the most by a Canuck defenceman.