After jumping out with a 2-0 series lead and showing off some heroics, the Vancouver Canucks are back down to earth with their playoff series against the St. Louis Blues tied up at two games apiece.
The Blues took back-to-back wins Sunday and Monday, illustrating that they are still indeed the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
It was Vancouver’s second loss in 24 hours after going on a five-game winning streak.
Monday, the Blues got the Game Four win thanks to a 3-1 final score that saw them get quality goaltending out of Jake Allen for the second game in a row.
The Canucks got in front of the series and goalie Jordan Binnington early on in Game One and Game Two, but that almost seems like ancient history as the bigger, burlier Blues are pressing their advantage.
St. Louis outshot Vancouver 37-23 in Game Four, scoring two power play goals on seven tries.
But more than that, the Blues figured out how to stifle the more dangerous Canucks. That led head coach Travis Green to do a little line tinkering, moving Elias Pettersson around Monday in order to find the right combination. Defenceman Quinn Hughes was held off the board, ending his points streak.
If St. Louis has a particular ace in the hole, it’s Ryan O’Reilly. The Blues generate 79 percent of the shot attempts when he’s on the ice.
“Obviously, he’s a smart player,” Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev said. “He’s a very talented player. He’s thinking one step ahead of everyone out there. He does everything well. From faceoffs to winning board battles to scoring goals, he’s a full 200-foot player. We’ve got to find a way to slow down that line.”
O’Reilly had two goals and an assist Monday.
“When we take care of the puck it’s effective and it’s hard on them,” he said. “I think it was nice with an obviously emotional win last night. (We were) feeling good coming back into the rink again today and going right to our game again. I think that was a big factor. Obviously, a lot of work left. We’ve got to stick to our structure.”
That structure hemmed shut the previously assertive Vancouver power play. St. Louis’ adaptation to the Canucks’ man-advantage may be the story of the series if Vancouver can’t shift up the shooting lanes.
So we have ourselves a three-game series and the Blues hold the momentum drifting into Game Five Wednesday. Should Vancouver be worried?
“We were a shot away from going up 3-0 (in the series). Tonight it was 1-1 five on five,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said. “It’s not like we’re getting our butts whupped 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.”