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Blues continue playoff push, host Canucks

By Matt Becker

Stats Senior Writer

Vancouver (39-24-9) at St. Louis (34-30-9) 8:30 p.m. EDT

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Although the Vancouver Canucks have been the

NHL's hottest team over the past seven weeks, winning on the

road has not come easy.

After notching their first road victory in more than a month,

the Canucks hope to carry the momentum into Thursday night's

game at St. Louis against a Blues team that's battling for a

Western Conference playoff spot.

Vancouver (39-24-9) opened a six-game trip with a 5-1 loss to

Phoenix on Saturday before bouncing back with a 5-2 win over

Dallas on Tuesday, snapping a four-game road losing streak. It

was the Canucks' first win away from GM Place since a 3-2

shootout victory over Toronto on February 21.

"It was a huge win for us," forward Henrik Sedin told the team's

official Web site. "Losing in Phoenix and coming in here and

losing again with two tough back-to-back games coming up would

have been tough, all the sudden you're back in the race again,

so it was a big win for us."

The Canucks, an NHL-best 17-4-1 since the start of February

after losing their final eight games of January, are battling

Chicago for fourth place in the West and home-ice advantage in

the first round of the playoffs. Vancouver also has a chance of

catching first-place Calgary in the Northwest Division.

Henrik Sedin scored twice and added an assist Tuesday to give

him five goals and four assists in his last six games, while his

brother contributed a hard-fought goal.

Daniel Sedin's 27th goal of the season broke a 1-all tie late in

the first, coming 1:40 after he was hit by a high stick from

Mark Fistric. Sedin had a bloody lip, needed multiple stitches

in his mouth and lost a cap that protected one of his teeth.

Roberto Luongo stopped 35 shots Tuesday in his 17th straight

start for Vancouver, going 13-3-1 with a 2.02 goals-against

average. His one shutout in that stretch came last Thursday when

he made 30 saves in a 3-0 win over St. Louis (34-30-9).

Luongo has won both of his starts versus the Blues this season

and posted a 2.13 GAA in winning five straight against them.

Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist in the win over St. Louis

last week, and his twin added two assists.

While the Canucks appear to be a lock for the postseason, the

Blues are hoping to end a three-year playoff drought that's

followed 25 straight postseason appearances.

St. Louis improved to 9-4-1 since February 24 with Tuesday's 2-0

win over Los Angeles. Rookie Patrik Berglund scored twice in the

third period and Chris Mason finished with 22 saves for his

fifth shutout.

"It's the desperation, it's the urgency, it's the no quit in

this team," said Mason, 14-6-4 with a 2.17 GAA and two shutouts

in starting the last 24 games for the Blues. "In the third

period, we just turned it on."

Mason has keyed St. Louis' hot streak, especially at home, where

he's 9-3-2 with a 1.82 GAA and three shutouts since January 31.

Mason is helping the Blues stay in the playoff race, but he

hasn't had much success against Vancouver lately. He's allowed

eight goals in losing his two starts versus the Canucks this

season, dropping him to 0-4-1 with a 3.37 GAA in seven career

matchups.

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