Schneider to start as Canucks host Blues

Pulled early for playing poorly in Edmonton, Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo boasts a 1.88 GAA in his last nine home starts against Wednesday's opponent, the St. Louis Blues.
Cory Schneider relieved Roberto Luongo in Tuesday's loss in Edmonton. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The St. Louis Blues are getting results with an unexpected change in goal, while the Vancouver Canucks are dealing with their own surprising play by goaltender Roberto Luongo.

While Brian Elliott, formerly of the Ottawa Senators, is giving St. Louis some steady goaltending, Luongo is under increased scrutiny due to his 2-3-1 record and 3.46 goals-against average. He turned in yet another rough performance in Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Edmonton, allowing three goals in the opening 6:55 of the second period and getting the hook in favor of backup Cory Schneider.

Luongo, a four-time all-star, broke his stick against the boards upon his exit.

"It was a frustrating night for me," Luongo said. "I felt I was moving well and seeing the puck well in the first period and then, in a five-minute span, they got three quick ones and that was all she wrote."

Cory Schneider will get the start against St. Louis, it was announced after the morning skate. Schneider, who made all eight saves the rest of the way Tuesday, has a 1.68 GAA in four games while winning two of his three starts. He won his only meeting against St. Louis on Feb. 24, making 28 saves in a 3-2 victory in Vancouver.

Up front, Henrik Sedin has eight assists and 11 points through nine games — one fewer point than twin brother Daniel Sedin's team-leading total.

Elliott, meanwhile, may get the start over Jaroslav Halak again as the Blues begin the Western Canada portion of their trip against the Canucks on Wednesday night.

St. Louis (4-4-0) followed Friday's 3-2 overtime win against Carolina by beating Philadelphia 4-2 the next night after arriving at 3 a.m. local time and canceling its morning skate.

"We're playing the team game that we drew up at the beginning of the year," Blues defenceman Barret Jackman said. "We kept it simple and got back to the basics."

A change in net is also providing a spark.

Elliott is 3-0-0 with a 2.06 GAA in four games, winning each of the last two while yielding four goals on 65 shots to make a case for increased playing time.

Halak, St. Louis' unquestioned No. 1 netminder last season, hasn't been used since being pulled 23 seconds into the third period of a 5-0 defeat at Los Angeles on Oct. 18. He gave up four goals on 18 shots before being replaced by Elliott, a free-agent signing from Colorado last summer.

"Internal competition drives a hockey team to be better every day and this is no different," Blues head coach Davis Payne said.

Elliott has lost three of four meetings with the Canucks (4-4-1) behind a 2.80 GAA, while Halak has a 1.81 GAA while winning four of his last five starts against them.

Matt D'Agostini leads the Blues with four goals, finding the net in each of the last two contests, including the winner against the Hurricanes last week. The right wing has just one goal and one assist in eight games against Vancouver.

The Canucks and Blues split four meetings last season, including two at Rogers Arena.