NHL

Kesler out as Canucks begin post-Sochi slate against Blues

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The Sports Network
2/26/2014 11:41:41 AM
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The Vancouver Canucks, who struggled into the Olympic break, will try to restart their season on a positive note as they host The St. Louis Blues

The Canucks may have needed the break more than any team as they went into the hiatus having lost seven in a row, including a winless five-game road trip to close out the pre-Olympic schedule.

Vancouver has lost seven in a row in regulation for the first time since Dec. 26-Jan. 6 during the 1998-99 campaign and is on its longest skid of any kind since going 0-5-3 from Jan. 9-31, 2009.

The Canucks have 63 points on the season, one back of Phoenix and Dallas for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

The break did allow Henrik Sedin some additional time to heal from a rib injury that has held him to just two games since Jan. 18 and caused him to sit out the Olympics. "Henrik is landing this morning," head coach John Tortorella told reporters on Wednesday morning. "We hope he'll play tonight."

However, forward Ryan Kesler won't play tonight due to a hand injury suffered while blocking a shot for Team USA on Feb. 15. He did not miss time during the Olympics, but had an MRI on Monday and is day-to-day.

Vancouver recalled center Kellan Lain from the American Hockey League on Monday. Eddie Lack will get the start in goal.

Regardless, the Canucks will look to get on track while playing their next three as the home team. That includes March 2 in the Heritage Classic versus Ottawa to be played at BC Place, which features a retractable roof.

The Canucks have won two prior meetings with the Blues this season and are 5-0-2 in the last seven encounters overall. Vancouver also is 3-0-1 in its past four versus St. Louis at home.

T.J. Oshie had one of the more memorable experiences during the Winter Olympics, even if the American was unable to get his country a medal.

Oshie was part of a Team USA squad that failed to medal in Sochi, though the 27-year-old was briefly the talk of the Olympics after he scored four times during an eight-round shootout to help lift the U.S. to a win over Russia during group play.

The forward became a media sensation and U.S. hero for his clutch performance, though he fizzled out like the rest of Team USA, which failed to beat Canada in the semifinals before falling in defeat to Finland in the bronze medal game.

"It was pretty crazy after that shootout. It's all a little bitter now that we get back and have nothing to show for it, but it was a pretty cool couple of days after that seeing some of my family on some major TV shows and stuff like that," said Oshie.

The Blues do return a number of players who collected medals in Sochi, including gold medal-winning defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester of Team Canada as well as forwards Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund, who picked up silver with Sweden.

Steen continued his solid campaign that has seen him score a career-high 28 goals through just 46 games on the season.

St. Louis comes out of the break having gone 3-0-1 in its previous four while winning seven of its last 10. The Blues are even with the idle Chicago Blackhawks for the top spot in the Central standings with 84 points, three behind the Anaheim Ducks for the most in the NHL.

The Blues play their next three on the road looking to maintain that success, something Oshie believes his club can do.

"I think so. We've got some guys coming off some pretty big highs, getting a gold and silver medal, and we've got some other guys like myself and (forward David) Backes that are fired up we didn't get anything," Oshie said. "I feel like after big losses like that, it inspires you to work harder. It's always easy coming back to this group of guys."

Alexander Edler T.J. Oshie  (Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Blues at Canucks

GAME NOTES

- VAN is 2-0-0 vs STL this season, 1 of the wins at home
- VAN has gone 3-0-1 past 4 at home vs STL
VAN (27-24-9):
- lost 7 straight games, 11GF, 3/21 on PP
- lost 2 straight at home, 9GA
- Luongo 0-5-0 last 5 starts, 3.48GAA, .880sv%
- D Sedin 9 straight games without a PT
STL (39-12-6):
- 33-1-4 when scoring first
- 3-0-1 past 4 games, all at home, all decided by 1G, 1/21 on PP
- lost last road game, last lost 2 straight on road Nov 29/Dec 2, 15 games since
- Oshie (2G, 1A) past 3 games
- Schwartz (3G, 3A) 4 game PT streak
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