Jannik Hansen scored the game’s only goal and Eddie Lack made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Vancouver Canucks blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in the first post-Olympic game for both teams Wednesday night.
The Canucks (28-24-9) ended their losing streak at seven games while moving into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference. The Blues (39-13-6) suffered their third straight decision to Vancouver this season.
Hansen finally broke a scoreless deadlock at 11:13 of the third period. He took a backhand stretch pass from Tom Sestito from deep in the Vancouver zone just past centre ice, raced in on a breakaway and beat Halak with a high shot.
It was Hansen’s first goal in just over a month, a span of eight games, after he last scored Jan. 26 against Phoenix.
The Canucks outshot the Blues 35-20, but Lack had no shortage of challenges. Vancouver was blanked on four power plays while St. Louis failed to score on three.
For most of the game, Lack and Jaroslav Halak of the Blues waged a goaltenders’ battle.
Lack drew the start after backstopping the Canucks to a pair of wins over St. Louis earlier this season.
The Canucks played with added aggression that coach John Tortorella has been seeking as they outshot the Blues 14-6 in the first period. But the hosts could not beat a steady Halak, who was relatively fresh after playing just two games for Slovakia in the Olympics.
Lack made some difficult saves, including one on a slapshot by Brendan Morrow with just under eight minutes left. The Canucks averted a dangerous chance when St. Louis defenceman Roman Polak slid the puck off the goal post and a few players crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings.
The Blues rallied early in the second period, prompting Tortorella to call a timeout. But Lack performed more robberies, foiling Kevin Shattenkirk twice with the second chance coming on a power play.
The Vancouver goaltender also denied Blues captain David Backes on a one-timer during a delayed penalty and Alex Steen on a deflection, and got his pad on a T.J. Oshie shot before defenceman Alex Edler blocked the puck as he attempted to put in the rebound.
After the save, fans chanted “Eddie! Eddie!”
Although he faced fewer shots Lack had tougher saves, but Halak was sharp in the late going of the second as he thwarted Chris Higgins on a rebound and denied Daniel Sedin as he drove to the net and shot.
Notes: Olympians from both teams were honoured in a pre-game ceremony. Blues defencemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo drew loud cheers from the crowd when they were saluted, along with Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis and goaltender Roberto Luongo, for helping Canada win the 2014 Olympic gold medal. a Tortorella worked his first home game since receiving a six-game suspension for storming the Calgary Flames dressing room area Jan. 18. a Canucks captain Henrik Sedin returned to action after suffering an undisclosed injury before the Olympics. He missed the past two practices while tending to a personal matter in Sweden, but returned Wednesday in time for the game. Defenceman Kevin Bieksa returned after missing five games before the Olympic break with a foot injury. a Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler sat out with a hand injury suffered while playing for the U.S. in the Olympics. Canucks defencemen Chris Tanev (thumb) and Andrew Alberts (concussion) remained out. a Blues defenceman Jordan Leopold missed the game due to an ankle injury. He was replaced by Carlo Colaiacovo.
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