3 Keys: Blues vs. Canucks, Game 3 of Western First Round

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No. 4 Blues vs. No. 5 Canucks

10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, FS-MW

Vancouver leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

The St. Louis Blues could have a different starting goalie for Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday.

Blues coach Craig Berube has been non-committal on switching from Jordan Binnington, who started the first two games of the series and allowed nine goals on 47 shots, to Jake Allen for Game 3.

Berube said the fact that Game 4 is Monday in Edmonton, the Western hub city, will not factor into the decision who starts Game 3.

“I’m going just on [Sunday],” Berube said. “I’m not going to worry about after that game until it’s over, what’s going to happen. We have back-to-back games coming up. We’ll make a decision after [Game 3].”

The Canucks have won five straight games since losing 3-0 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Minnesota Wild on Aug. 2.

Teams with a 2-0 lead are 324-51 (86.4 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series. 

Here are 3 keys to Game 3:

 

1. Allen or Binnington

It would be a major change for the Blues if Allen replaces Binnington, but it might be warranted.

Binnington has allowed 15 goals on 85 shots (.823 save percentage) in his past three starts, including two on clear-sited shots from above the in-zone face-off dots in Game 1 and two that went through his five-hole in Game 2. 

Allen made 37 saves on 38 shots in his only start in Edmonton, a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars in the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers on Aug. 9.

Binnington helped the Blues win the Stanley Cup last season, winning all 16 games with a 2.46 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

 

2. Bo knows goals

Canucks center Bo Horvat has scored four goals in the series, two in each game, including one in each when he went right around Blues’ skaters trying to defend him. He has also won 61.4 percent of his face-offs (35 of 57).

Horvat leads the NHL with six goals in the playoffs, including five in his past three games.

“He’s playing phenomenal right now,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “The last three games are maybe as good as I’ve seen him in my time here.”

The Blues must find a way to slow Horvat down, but a new challenge presents itself in Game 3 because the Canucks are the home team and have the last change advantage.

Green will try to get Vancouver’s top line of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller 5-on-5 shifts against the Blues’ third and fourth lines. They saw a lot of St. Louis forwards Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron in Games 1 and 2. 

Horvat may see more time against O’Reilly in Game 3, but that leaves Pettersson with a more favorable matchup.

 

3. Blues’ kill

The Blues feel they’ve been the better team at 5-on-5, but it hasn’t mattered because the Canucks are 5-for-9 on the power play.

Berube said the Blues must be better in the middle of the defensive zone on the penalty kill. Horvat and Canucks forward Tanner Pearson have each scored power-play goals on one-timers from the middle of the zone off seam passes after being left open there.

“Those are the areas where we’ve got to tighten up on our PK and not give them anything,” Berube said.

 

Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson

Antoine RousselBrandon SutterJake Virtanen

Tyler MotteJay BeagleZack MacEwen

Alexander EdlerTroy Stecher

Quinn HughesChristopher Tanev

Oscar FantenbergJordie Benn

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Olli Juolevi, Justin Bailey, Jalen Chatfield, Louis Domingue, Adam Gaudette, Tyler Graovac, Brogan Rafferty

Unfit to play: Micheal Ferland, Josh Leivo, Tyler Toffoli, Tyler Myers

 

Blues projected lineup

Tyler BozakBrayden SchennVladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron

Sammy BlaisRobert ThomasZach Sanford

Alexander SteenOskar SundqvistTroy Brouwer

Carl GunnarssonAlex Pietrangelo

Marco ScandellaColton Parayko

Vince DunnJustin Faulk

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Ivan Barbashev, Jordan Kyrou, Ville Husso, Robert Bortuzzo, Klim Kostin, Austin Poganski , Niko Mikkola, Derrick Pouliot, Jake Walman, MacKenzie MacEachern, Jacob de la Rose

Unfit to play: none

 

Status report

Myers didn’t return in Game 3 after crashing hard into the boards at 1:46 of the third period. Benn is expected to play for the first time in the postseason if Myers can’t.

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