The St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks will fight for the upper hand of their first-round Western Conference playoff series when they play Game 5 on Wednesday night in Edmonton.
The Canucks won the first two games of the series 5-2 and 4-3 in overtime, then the Blues won the next two 3-2 in overtime and 3-1 to even it up.
“We played a hard back-to-back against the Stanley Cup champs,” Canucks winger J.T. Miller said after Monday night’s game. “It’s a best-of-seven series for a reason, and we knew it was a tall task. We were one shot away from going up 3-0 (Sunday) and tonight it was 1-1 five-on-five. It’s not like we’re getting our butts whipped up and down the rink.
“They’re a good team, we’re a good team. It’s going to be a hard, long series. We signed up for that. The mindset is have a good day off (Tuesday) and come back ready to go because it’s going to be another battle.”
After scoring five power-play goals in the first two games, the Canucks went 0-for-7 with the man advantage Monday.
“We’ve been making adjustments as we go just based on what they do,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Last game, they scored the one on the rush, but I thought we did a better job. More of the same. Big thing for us is clearing the puck when we have an opportunity. We were much better with that (in Game 4).”
The Blues scored twice on their power play Monday, matching their total for the first three games of the series. They also settled into their puck-possession game at even strength and outshot the Canucks 37-23 overall.
After being held off the scoresheet in Game 1 of the series, Blues center Ryan O’Reilly has three goals and three assists in the past three games. He scored twice and added an assist in Game 4.
“He’s spending no time in his own end and a lot in ours,” Miller said. “I think we can challenge ourselves to be better and win more pucks in their end of the rink so they’re wasting their shifts defending instead of the other way around.”
Canucks center Bo Horvat has been shut out in the past two games after scoring four goals in Games 1 and 2. Defenseman Quinn Hughes had his six-game point streak (one goal, eight assists) stopped Monday.
The Blues started backup goaltender Jake Allen in back-to-back games, and he stopped 61 of 64 shots. Coach Craig Berube has no reason to turn back to 2019 postseason hero Jordan Binnington, who is 0-4 in this postseason with a 4.27 goals-against average and a .862 save percentage.
The Canucks have received steady work from goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who is 5-3 with a 2.42 GAA and a .927 save percentage.
The Blues will play without winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who missed the past two games and then left the bubble to have his surgically repaired shoulder examined in St. Louis. He will miss the rest of the series.
“I’m not going to jump to conclusions on anything,” Berube said. “He’s not feeling right, so that’s why he’s going to get it looked at. It is concerning, but we’ve got to wait and see.”
–Field Level Media