Naslund scores pair to lead Canucks past Blues 4-2

It was the first time in nine games they had scored more than twice, but they took advantage of a St. Louis Blues team playing its third NHL game in four nights and beat them 4-2 on Friday.

“Three goals is a blowout for us,” said Naslund who scored twice in the second period to provide a 3-1 cushion entering the final period.

“Getting up a couple of goals going into the third helps but they got one back. Overall we outplayed them but the score didn’t show it.”

The Canucks created plenty of chances in front of goalie Jason Bacashihua as they outshot the Blues 44-21.

“We got four (goals) tonight so hopefully we’ll get another game like this and a lot of the guys will get their confidence back,” Naslund said after Vancouver ended a three-game losing streak and won for only the second in time eight games to improve to 9-10-1.

His first goal came when he broke hard to the net as Henrik Sedin backhanded a pass toward the crease.

When Bacashihua gave up the rebound, Naslund was on his doorstep with an open net to shoot at.

His second goal came with two minutes remaining in the second period as Sedin again found Naslund in a shooting position.

Brendan Morrison gave Vancouver a 1-1 first-period tie and Ryan Kesler, with only one goal to show for his first 19 games, restored the two-goal margin with 1:01 remaining.

Doug Weight opened the St. Louis scoring and Keith Tkachuk made it close in the third period.

The Blues lost a sixth straight road game and dropped to 5-11-3. They have only two wins in their last 11 games.

Kesler has struggled since he signed a contract that pays him US$1.9 million this year, about twice as much as the Canucks intended, because then GM Bobby Clarke of the Philadelphia Flyers made that offer to the restricted free agent forcing Vancouver to match it.

Scoring was a relief for the 22-year-old centre from Livonia, Mich. who began the game by fighting Tkachuk nine seconds after the puck dropped.

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“To say at the beginning of the year I had two goals at this point, I’d basically call you a liar,” said Kesler who completed an odd-man rush with the Blues pressing for the equalizer. “I never thought in a million years I’d be in this situation.

“For me to start off like this was disappointing. I just said to myself forget about the first 19 games, you can’t do anything about it and this is Game One for me. It’s time for me to turn it around.”

Weight, who scored his first goal of the season, said the Blues’ road woes are mounting because they have been consistently underachieving and running into early penalty trouble.

“Home hasn’t been that great either,” Weight said after a Canuck coverage breakdown left him alone in front of Roberto Luongo and he backhanded Jeff Woywitka’s pass over the diving Vancouver goalie.

“We find ourselves in a pretty good corner after 18-19 games and there’s no excuse for that.

“I haven’t gotten off to a great start this season. I have to be a big producer on this team. I want to play a big role every game and I haven’t done that. It’s nice to get one but we’ve got to start winning.”

The Canucks missed several chances in front of Bacashihua but the goalie said he didn’t mind seeing plenty of pucks in his first NHL start of the season.

“I’d rather face more rubber than a little because it gets me more into the game. It can be a lot tougher when you face just 15 (shots) but they did a good job of crashing the net and throwing bodies in front,” Bacashihua said.

NOTES: The Canucks lost all four games to the Blues last season, a result that likely cost them a playoff berth … veteran Wade Flaherty and his 27-56-9 record over 11 NHL seasons backed up Luongo for the first time this season … Bacashihua relieved Manny Legace in the second period of Thursday’s 6-2 loss in Edmonton … Petr Cajanek remained out of the St. Louis lineup with a hip injury.