VANCOUVER – Alex Burrows used his patented backhand to perfection on Saturday night.
The Vancouver Canucks grinder scored on a backhand and made a nifty behind-the-back pass on Brad Isbister’s winning goal as the Canucks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2.
“That’s my move,” said Burrows. “I think guys know it. When it’s on, it’s on, and right now, for some reason, the bounces are going my way and the pucks are going in.”
Isbister easily converted Burrows’ pass into a gaping net with 4:12 left in the game.
“(Ryan Kesler) fired a nice pass to me and I was able to walk in there,” said Burrows of his assist on the winning goal. “The D-men compromised on me and I was able to get it through to Izzy and that was a big goal.”
St. Louis goaltender Manny Legace could do little to stop Isbister’s goal.
“You have to rely on your guys a little bit to take away the back door, and I had no chance,” said Legace, whose club was outshot 30-25.
Mattias Ohlund, and Henrik Sedin with a short-handed empty-netter with 4.5 second left, also scored for the Canucks (34-24-10), who moved back into a tie for eighth place with Nashville in the NHL’s tight Western Conference. Vancouver also closed to within two points of co-leaders Calgary, Colorado and Minnesota for top spot in the crowded Northwest Division.
“We needed these two points,” said Burrows. “They were huge and they were there for us.”
Brad Boyes scored both goals for the Blues (29-29-10).
Vancouver went one-for-seven on power plays while St. Louis was zero-for-four.
After a lacklustre first period, The Blues delivered a much better effort at the start of the second period. Boyes put them ahead 2-1 at 12:46 after Canucks defenceman Alex Edler knocked his centring pass behind Luongo.
But Burrows drew the Canucks even at 15:58 of the middle session as he raced towards the net on a breakaway and lifted a backhand high into the net over the sprawling Legace. The play has become the grinder’s signature this season. He has scored most of his goals the same way.
“It’s a good move,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “It’s been effective. He’s been able to score on that move. Maybe we’ll use him in the shootout.”
Burrows outraced Blues defenceman Barret Jackman to a loose puck and then cut across the net ahead of Legace.
“There was a D-man chasing me and I just wanted to make sure that he wasn’t able to poke it,” said Burrows. “So I had to keep the puck on the left side and then (I was thinking) if you have it far on the left side, bring it far on the right side especially against a small goalie like Manny (Legace). It’s tough for him to get all the way across and I was able to get it above his glove.”
Ohlund gave Vancouver a 1-0 advantage on a power play at 6:30 of the first period. His slapshot hit Blues defenceman Jeff Woywitka and changed direction past Legace. The goal came after St. Louis defencemen took three penalties 51 seconds apart.
“It’s certainly not a situation you want to be in,” said St. Louis coach Andy Murray, whose club has only one win in its last nine outings. “We served too many penalties early and we served too many in the third period.”
Notes: Vancouver veteran Trevor Linden, a former NHL ironman, was a healthy scratch for the 20th time this season while defenceman Aaron Miller sat out with a sore shoulder. Defenceman Mike Weaver and winger Jeff Cowan were also scratched . . . Canucks rookie defenceman Nathan McIver did not dress after being recalled from the minors earlier Saturday, because Ohlund (knee) and Kevin Bieksa (wrist) declared themselves fit. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said McIver will return to Manitoba . . . Yan Stastny and Martin Rucinsky sat out while Blues veterans Dan Hinote (abdominal strain) and Mike Johnson (shoulder) were sidelined with injuries . . . St. Louis coach Andy Murray and Canucks rookie Mason Raymond will become part of the same extended family. Raymond is engaged to Murray’s cousin’s daughter. “He’s going to have to start driving a Chevy because he’s marrying into the family,” said Murray, whose relatives operate car dealerships in Manitoba . . . Vigneault expects centre Brendan Morrison out since Dec. 12 with a wrist injury, to return to the Vancouver lineup this week.