Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) makes the save as St. Louis Blues’ Brayden Schenn (10) jumps during the second period of a first round NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey series in Edmonton, on Wednesday August 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

EDMONTON — Vancouver captain Bo Horvat twice as the Canucks defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 5-2 Wednesday in their first-round opener.

J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Troy Stecher also scored for Vancouver while David Perron and Jaden Schwartz replied for St. Louis. Vancouver has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is set for Friday night.

Horvat now has four goals in return to play action while rookie teammate Quinn Hughes logged an assist to reach seven points (one goal, six helpers) in five games.

Jacob Markstrom made 29 stops for the win.

The Canucks were making their first playoff appearance since 2015, having defeated the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round.

They never trailed in the game.

The teams swapped mirror-image power-play goals in the first period.

Horvat opened the scoring about five minutes in when he one-timed a Hughes’ feed from the top of the left face-off circle past St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington.

St. Louis replied with under four minutes to go. Perron half-slapped a pass from Brayden Schenn from the top of the right circle high over the glove of Markstrom.

Vancouver regained the lead on the power play midway through the second period. Pettersson whipped the puck under the bar off a goalmouth scramble for his second goal in return to play.

The Blues tied it just over a minute later when Schwartz tipped the puck past pinching Canuck defenceman Chris Tanev at the Blues blue line, then barrelled in on a breakaway and beat Markstrom with a nifty backhander through the five hole.

Vancouver took the lead for good almost six minutes into the third. Stecher raced down the right wing and wired a slapshot from the face-off circle under Binnington’s arm for his first of the post-season.

Then Horvat, entering the Blues zone with speed, turned Blues defenceman Vince Dunn inside out, raced in and fired a wrist shot past Binnington on the blocker side.

Miller added the fifth goal on the power play with less than 40 seconds to play.

The Canucks are winning with a mix of veterans and playoff newbies.

Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Jake Virtanen, Tyler Motte, Hughes, Stecher, Zack MacEwen, and Markstrom were regulars playing in their first playoff game (although technically they have playoff experience as the qualifying round statistics will count as post-season ones).

READ MORE: Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

The loss continues the Blues’ return-to-play downward spiral.

St. Louis was the best in the Western Conference (42-19-10) and second overall in the league when the NHL suspended play March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But they were a hot mess in the return to play round-robin competition, blowing third-period leads in every game and scoring just six goals in three contests.

History is on Vancouver’s side. The teams have met three times in the playoffs (1995, 2003 and 2009). Each time the Canucks bounced the Blues out in the first round.

The Western Conference games are being played at Rogers Place, with all players being kept in isolation to avoid contracting COVID-19.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CanuckshockeyNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

NDP candidate Babchuk a fixture in local politics since 2005

School trustee, city councillor and regional district chair sets sights on being North Island MLA

Sointula elementary school gets funding for new playground

Funding for the new playground comes from the provincial government’s Playground Equipment Program.

Facey nominated as BC Liberal candidate for the North Island riding

Liberal candidate Norm Facey has a background in forestry and manufacturing.

Some north Island forest service roads to get a minor facelift with COVID-19 recovery funding

Side Bay access road no longer ‘up in the bureaucratic air’ thanks to temporary budget increase

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read