Sundin finding groove with Demitra, Kesler
Canucks' new 2nd line arrives in St. Louis with 15 points in 2 games
Mats Sundin isn't any closer to skating with the Sedin twins at even-strength, but he is lending them a hand.
The big Swede has eased the pressure on the Vancouver Canucks' top forward duo by combining for 15 points in two games with new linemates Pavol Demitra and Ryan Kesler.
They collected three goals and eight points in Saturday's 7-3 win over visiting Chicago, but might be put to the test Tuesday in St. Louis (7:30 p.m. CT) by goalie Chris Mason, who sports a 1.20 goals-against average in his last eight games.
However, the former Nashville Predator, who wrested away the No. 1 job from the waived Manny Legace, has yet to taste victory against the Canucks in five career appearances (0-2-1 record, 3.02 GAA).
While Sundin and Demitra shone on a suddenly dangerous Vancouver power play, which converted four of eight chances on Saturday, Kesler has been the catalyst. With his speed, edge and work ethic, the converted centre has been the perfect complement to Sundin and Demitra.
"It's weird, sometimes you have chemistry with guys and sometimes you don't," said Kesler, who now patrols right wing and has five goals and eight points in his last three games. "With those two guys, they see the ice really well and they're strong down low. It's an easy game to play when we're all working hard."
Picking up the pace
Sundin, who recently signed a one-year free-agent contract, is starting to regain his offensive form following a long layoff and slow start with the Canucks (three points in his first nine games).
"I don't know if I'm back to mid-season [form] yet. It feels like I expected," said Sundin, who works the power play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. "I knew it was going to be tough, hopefully I'll keep playing better. I feel like the legs are there the last three or four games."
Tuesday's contest marks the opener of a three-game road for Vancouver, which will try for its first three-game winning streak in over two months.
The Canucks hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the NHL's Western Conference with a 24-20-8 mark. The last-place Blues (22-24-6) are only six points behind.
"We're on a nice little roll," forward Taylor Pyatt told the Canucks' official website. "It's coming down to the final stretch here in the season so we've got to put some wins together."
The Canucks will spend seven of their next eight on the road, where they are 11-9-4.
Vancouver is 4-9-0 at the Scottrade Center since Jan. 20, 2001, but has taken six of the past nine series meetings overall.
Luongo struggles in St. Louis
Goaltender Roberto Luongo, who is coming off a 36-save performance against the Blackhawks, is 7-2-0 with a 2.17 GAA in his last nine outings versus the Blues, but 2-4-0 in his career at St. Louis.
The Blues, who are a respectable 13-10-4 on home ice this season, recorded a point for the ninth time in 10 starts with a 4-1 win over Colorado on Saturday.
Brad Boyes and David Perron led the way with a goal and assist each.
"It's going to be a dogfight every game," Blues defenceman Barret Jackman said. "We just want to give ourselves a chance."
The penalty-kill has done its part, successfully defending 34 of 35 penalties during a seven-game stretch, while the Vancouver power play is clicking at 38 per cent (8-for-21) in the last four starts.
Centre Andy McDonald, who agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Blues on Monday, could return to the lineup against the Canucks. He has been sidelined since mid-November with a broken left ankle.