It wasn’t what you would call a textbook start to what they hope will be a long Stanley Cup run, but the Vancouver Canucks got the result they wanted on Wednesday night.
The Canucks looked nervous at times and were guilty of taking a series of undisciplined penalties. But none of that seemed to matter after a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in their best-of-seven series opener before a noisy, towel-waving crowd at General Motors Place.
Game 2 goes on Friday night. Same place. Same time. And the Canucks hope, the same result.
Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo scored for the Canucks, who were whistled for seven minor penalties in the first two periods.
A power-play goal by Brad Boyes late in the second made things close, but the Canucks played a terrific third period to earn the win and grab the early momentum in the series.
They were helped considerably by another strong performance from goalie Roberto Luongo, who stopped 24 of 25 shots.
The Canucks scored the only goal of the first period. They also got a huge penalty kill midway through the first when the Blues had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:42.
Daniel Sedin got the goal, at the 10:03 mark, when he converted a slap pass from Pavol Demitra while the Canucks had an extra attacker on the ice after a delayed penalty call on the Blues.
A couple of minutes later, defencemen Mattias Ohlund and Salo took back-to-back minors and the Blues had a glorious chance to tie the game.
But the Canuck trio of Ryan Kesler, Willie Mitchell and Alex Burrows did a wonderful job of limiting the Blues’ opportunities. St. Louis only had one good chance and Luongo slid across his crease to rob Andy McDonald on a back-door play.
The Blues had a 9-8 edge in shots in the first period.
Vancouver went up 2-0 at 5:11 of the second when Salo’s point shot beat Blues’ goalie Chris Mason late on a Canuck power play.
But the Blues got life late in the second when they scored a power-play goal of their own. It came on their seventh attempt of the evening as the Canucks finally paid the price for an undisciplined penalty.
Boyes converted a rebound after Luongo had stopped a shot from the right circle by Alexander Steen. The goal came with Henrik Sedin in the box serving an interference penalty on St. Louis defenceman Barret Jackman.
Boyes’ goal ended Luongo’s shutout streak at 183 minutes and 32 seconds