VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Manny Malhotra scored the go-ahead goal 1:05 into the third period and the Vancouver Canucks beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Thursday night.
Mikael Samuelsson and Sami Salo put Vancouver ahead 2-0 in the first period, but Alex Pietrangelo, on the power play, and David Backes scored 74 seconds apart in the second.
The Blues dominated the middle period, outshooting the Canucks 11-4, but a lost battle behind their net early in the third proved costly.
After a good forecheck by Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen, the puck squirted out front with Malhotra, who was alone to sweep it past Ty Conklin on the far side.
It was the second goal and sixth point in seven games for Malhotra, a third line center who went 22 games without a goal and 19 without a point before that.
Cory Schneider made 28 saves for the Canucks, who continued to alternate loses and wins for an eighth game but remained one point ahead of Philadelphia atop the NHL, and moved seven points up on Detroit in the Western Conference.
Conklin made 24 saves for the Blues, who have lost two straight and fell seven points and five teams out of the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Blues are 24 points behind the Canucks, but had beat them twice this season, and are among just five teams to win in Vancouver this season. The Canucks seemed determined to make sure it didn’t happen again, especially early.
Samuelsson opened the scoring midway through the first period, knocking Henrik Sedin’s centering pass out of the air with his leg, and banging the bouncing puck between Conklin’s legs. Henrik and Daniel Sedin each had an assist on the goal, extending Daniel’s lead in the NHL scoring race with 79 points – two more than Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos – while Henrik is third with 74 points.
Salo made it 2-0 with a blast that beat Conklin from the top of the faceoff circle with 3:13 left in the period, but the Blues took over in the second.
Pietrangelo had an empty net on the power play 6:27 into the period after Schneider overcommitted to Andy McDonald alone at one side of the net just before he fed a perfect pass through the crease. It was the seventh straight game with a power-play goal for St. Louis, a season high, and the Blues tied it a couple of shifts later when Backes wired a slap shot over Schneider.
T.J. Oshie rang a shot off the crossbar a minute later, and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk hit the post with four minutes left in the period.
Notes: St. Louis D Nikita Nikitin left the game with a lower body injury in the first period. Salo’s goal was his first since late last season after missing the first four months recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon. St. Louis G Jaroslav Halak missed a fifth game with a bruised right hand, but is on this three-game road trip, which continues in Edmonton and Calgary. LW David Perron, out since Nov. 4 with a concussion, also made the trip but will stay in Vancouver to work with a chiropractor that specializes in head injuries.