ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- The Vancouver Canucks came out with more energy and finally got a goal from their leading scorer, but it still was not nearly enough.
Martin Rucinsky scored twice in a 97-second span late in the third period and also picked up an assist as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Canucks, 4-1, to open a three games to one lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Blues again played without Norris Trophy candidate Al McInnis, who missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury. But they can wrap up the series on Friday in Vancouver.
"The first period, we were flat," St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said. "The last two were excellent, but we have to have a better start than we had tonight."
The Canucks outshot the Blues, 12-5, in the first and took the lead when Markus Naslund - who had 49 goals during the regular season - scored with 8:03 left in the period.
It was the first goal in the series for Vancouver's top line of Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Todd Bertuzzi, who were broken up by coach Marc Crawford. After finishing second during the season with 264 goals, the Canucks have just four in as many games against St. Louis.
"We liked the way we played, but we did not like the result," Crawford said. "We think things can change in this series."
"It was a better effort from our club," Naslund added. "I do not think the series is over. We had more chances than we have had in this series. We made more plays. It is going to be tough, being down, 3-1, but if we are going to play like this, we are going to win."
The Blues took control in the second period, again showing their comeback ability. St. Louis was a league-best 22-15-3-6 during the season when giving up the first goal.
"When we got down, 1-0, we calmed down," Blues center Doug Weight said. "You do not want to be down in this league as much as we are, but we would score sooner or later."
Defenseman Chris Pronger, who missed all but five games during the season following wrist surgery, tied it 4:35 into the second when his seemingly harmless wrist shot from just inside the blue line floated past Dan Cloutier, who had a shaky game in goal.
Dallas Drake converted a 2-on-1 break to give the Blues the lead for good with 4:53 left in the second. Weight passed into the slot for Drake, who snapped a wrist shot past Cloutier for his team-leading sixth point of the playoffs.
Rucinsky started the play when he fought off two Vancouver players for the puck at the red line.
"Marty made an amazing play along the boards and Doug gave me a great feed," Drake said. "It was nice to breakthrough after struggling through the first period."
Rucinsky completed another 2-on-1 by scoring from a bad angle on the right side with 5:51 left, then beat Cloutier with a backhander from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.
"Doug made a great play getting it over the defenseman's stick," Rucinsky said of his second goal. "I let the puck get between my legs a little bit, but I was able to get a shot on net."
"He has great speed," Weight said of Rucinsky. "Anytime Dal and Marty get involved, great things happen. He was due. This was his night."
Chris Osgood made 32 saves for the Blues, who were outshot, 33-20, but killed all five Vancouver power plays.
"I have been playing with a lot of confidence," said Osgood, who won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1998. "I have been hearing the crowd, but I do not get energy from saves. I just stay focused. I do not try to be the center of everything. I just try to play."
"If we could have gotten another one by him, it would have been a different story," Canucks center Trevor Linden said.
Naslund's goal was Vancouver's first at even strenth in the series. However, the Canucks are just 3-for-29 with the man advantage.