(Sports Network) - Scoring the first goal was key to the Canucks' success a season ago. They are quickly learning this year how hard it is to play from behind.
Playing the second of back-to-back games, Vancouver hopes for a better start tonight against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks led the NHL a season ago with 117 points and 258 goals scored on the way to reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. They made a habit of jumping on teams early, scoring the first goal in 49 of their 82 regular season games.
That hasn't been the case for Vancouver this year as it has allowed its opponent to score first in seven of its first nine games. The Canucks are 2-4-1 in that span and have won both games in which they scored first.
It was much of the same last night, with Vancouver yielding the game's first three goals to Edmonton -- all in the second period -- on the way to a 3-2 defeat. Goaltender Roberto Luongo made 11 saves and gave up all three tallies before getting pulled for Cory Schneider, who stopped all eight shots he faced in relief. Schneider will get the strat in net tonight.
A Vezina Trophy nominee a season ago, Luongo is just 2-3-1 with a 3.45 goals- against average and .868 save percentage in six games this year.
"I felt like I was seeing the puck well, was moving well and I had a great first period and then in a five-minute span [in the second period] they got three quick ones and that's all she wrote," Luongo said.
Cody Hodgson and Alexandre Burrows scored for the Canucks, who had a two-game winning streak snapped, while forward David Booth had three shots in nearly 16 minutes of ice time after being acquired from the Panthers on Saturday.
The Canucks aren't putting their struggles on Luongo and know they need to pick it up on the offensive and defensive ends.
"We need to help him out too and play better as a team," said winger Daniel Sedin. "I mean the chances their getting are Grade-A chances. We've got to get the first goal. That's going to relieve a lot of pressure on him. Right now he needs to make every save to keep us in the game and we make it too tough on him."
The Blues are also having some issues in net, with backup Brian Elliott currently outplaying starter Jaroslav Halak. The latter is just 1-4-0 with a 3.47 GAA and .835 save percentage in five games, while Elliott improved to 3-0 with a 2.06 GAA with Saturday's 4-2 victory over the Flyers in which he made 16 of his 34 saves in the third period.
Elliott could get the call again tonight for a third straight game.
Carlo Colaiacovo's late second-period goal proved to be the game-winner for the Blues, who won their second straight for the first time this year in the opener of a four-game road trip. St. Louis came into the game just 1-for-25 on the power play, but got a goal from Matt D'Agostini on the man advantage. It was his team-leading fourth goal of the year.
Both Kent Huskins and T.J. Oshie scored in the first frame.
"We really tried to keep our shifts short and keep it simple hockey, put it behind their defense and make them do all the skating tonight," said St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman.
The Blues did lose David Backes to an upper-body injury in the second period after he took a hard hit, but the forward could play tonight.
These two clubs have split their four-game series in each of the past three seasons, though St. Louis has lost seven of its last 10 in Vancouver.