VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) -- The Vancouver Canucks were bound to end their home playoff losing streak sooner or later. But no one expected a stellar effort by Dan Cloutier to be the reason.
Trent Klatt and defenseman Ed Jovanovski scored power-play goals and Cloutier came within 55 seconds of his first NHL postseason shutout as the Canucks posted a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues, evening their Western Conference quarterfinal series at one game apiece.
Winless in seven straight playoff games at GM Place since the 1996 conference quarterfinals, the Canucks rebounded from Thursday's humbling defeat by taking the lead 3 1/2 minutes into the game.
Goalless in 13 power-play opportunities over its previous two games, Vancouver capitalized on its first chance in this one as Klatt netted his first postseason goal in three years to end the Canucks' scoring drought at 160 minutes, 11 seconds.
Jovanovski tallied late in the second on the Canucks' eighth man advantage for a 2-0 lead and Cloutier made it stand up, stopping 11 shots in the third before Pavol Demitra's power-play goal in the final minute ended his bid for his first career playoff shutout.
"It would have been nice," Cloutier said. "I'm not going to lie, it would've been nice, but in the playoffs, it doesn't matter how you get the wins. Every one is so important, so I'm just happy to get the win."
"He was great," Jovanovski said of his goaltender. "He stood tall for us, and to advance in the playoffs, you're going to need solid goaltending, defense and forwards. Today was a great example of that."
St. Louis, which hosts Game Three on Monday, lost defenseman Al MacInnis, who left midway through the first period with an apparent right arm injury.
"It's happened to us all year," Blues defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We've had a lot of injuries over the course of the year and we seem to find a way to win. So we're going to have to do it, but it's obviously a big loss for us. He's an integral part of our team and our leader, so we're going to have to find a way to fill in."
With seven seconds remaining on Tyson Nash's hooking penalty, defenseman Sami Salo put a wrist shot on net from the right point. Standing in the right faceoff circle, Klatt was able to deflect the puck, causing it to bounce past Chris Osgood at 3:33 for a 1-0 Vancouver lead.
"It felt pretty good," Klatt said. "It's on the power play. My job is pretty simple - go stand in front of the net, tip it if you can. If not, make sure the goalie can't see it. I was just fortunate enough to get my stick on it and it went in."
"We expected them to come out hard tonight," St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said. "They weren't happy with their play in the first game. ... In the first game, we scored early and got them out of it. Tonight, they got their power play working and got some momentum."
Arguably the best power forward in the game, Todd Bertuzzi slammed MacInnis into the boards in the left corner and the All-Star defenseman immediately favored his right arm. After finishing his shift, MacInnis went to the locker room and did not return.
"He's a big part of our team," said Barret Jackman, MacInnis' rookie defense partner. "Anytime you play a shift, a period or three periods without him, everyone's gotta step up. I think our defense stepped up to the challenge and played well."
"From right after the game where we got our (butts) kicked, we knew we had to start better," Jovanovski said. "That was our whole focus in the hours leading up to the game. We came out, Todd had a big hit on Al there and set the tone for the game."
The Blues had several scoring chances late in the first, but Dallas Drake's spinaround shot from the slot went wide with 3:08 to go and Cloutier denied defenseman Chris Pronger from the doorstep 40 seconds later.
The game continued to be hard-hitting in the second, as Drake leveled Trevor Linden with a booming check in the left corner five minutes in.
The line of Daniel Sedin, Brad May and Henrik Sedin buzzed around Osgood with 3 1/2 minutes left in the period without increasing Vancouver's lead. But Jovanovski did from a bad angle for the Canucks' second power-play tally.
After carrying into the St. Louis zone, Jovanovski left the puck for Bertuzzi on the right boards. Captain Markus Naslund got it at the point and shoved it down low to Jovanovski, who put a shot from behind the goal line off Osgood and into the net with 66 seconds left for a 2-0 cushion.
"We ended up winning the game and we also won the special teams battle tonight," Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said. "Those things go a long way towards getting the victories. We're going to have to be very much like that in the next game as well."
The Blues battled hard in the final nine minutes, but Cloutier was equal to the task, making numerous saves to maintain the shutout.
Keith Tkachuk took a feed by Doug Weight from behind the net with 8:25 left but was denied by Cloutier. After skating around Jovanovski in the slot while on the power play two minutes later, Tkachuk dished to Eric Boguniecki on the left side, but Cloutier made a right pad stop.
"I just saw him in the corner of my eye," Cloutier said. "He was back door and I just tried to get across and cover as much as I could. Luckily, he put it in my pads and that was it."
Weight fired a slap shot from the blue line with 3:45 to go that Cloutier snagged with his glove before Demitra finally got St. Louis on the scoreboard.
With Osgood pulled for an extra skater while on the power play, Demitra wristed a shot from the blue line that made its way through a screen and past Cloutier high to the stick side to make it 2-1.