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

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Greens, Liberals, NDP field Fraser-Nicola candidates ahead of October election

Incumbent Jackie Tegart has two opposing candidates after snap election called Monday

Work has started on 20 units of seniors’ housing in Clinton

Much-delayed project has been in the works for almost a decade

Cache Creek firefighters plan bigger, better Halloween fireworks

‘With so much uncertainty in the world it’s nice to know that one community event is staying intact’

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

B.C. marriage annulled because husband was unable to have sex with wife

Husband did not disclose any sexual health concerns to his wife prior to marriage

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock’s namesake spray-painted with Black Lives Matter slogan

Vandalism occurred sometime between Friday and Saturday

B.C. VOTES 2020: B.C. Liberals vow to eliminate sales tax for a year

From 7% to zero, then back in at 3% to stimulate economy

The holiday everyone needs this year: Vote for your favourite in Fat Bear Week 2020

Voters will get to decide who gets to take home this year’s most coveted prize

Most Read