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

Tour de Rock pedals through the Cowichan Valley

Cops for Cancer fundraiser visits local schools

Kerry Park Islanders open regular season this weekend

Intersquad game boosted profile for some players

Crash snarls traffic in Duncan Tuesday evening

The crash appeared to involve at least three vehicles

Fire crews put out blaze in Cowichan Secondary outbuilding

Three halls respond to fire in storage structure

Who’s running in Cowichan?

A list of Cowichan candidates for the upcoming provincial election

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

B.C. VOTES 2020: Businesses now owe $6 billion in deferred tax payments

COVID-19 relief from remittance to province ends with September

Most Read