October 22, 2014

With their top goaltender back, the St. Louis Blues have restored their defensive identity.

And with another matchup with the offensively challenged Vancouver Canucks on tap, Brian Elliott stands a reasonable chance of remaining perfect since his return.

As Elliott aims for a third consecutive shutout when the Blues return home Friday night, the floundering Canucks have something to build on after ending a streak of three straight games without a goal.

Elliott was sharp in his first outing since Feb. 22, recording 19 saves as the Blues dominated the Canucks 3-0 Saturday in Vancouver. He was better in his second back from a knee injury, stopping 37 shots as St. Louis (43-22-9) edged San Jose 1-0 on Tuesday for its eighth win in 10 games.

"We kept their chances to a minimum (Tuesday) again, just like Vancouver," Elliott said. ''We kind of just took away everything, and when they did have something they let me see it."

Elliott improved to 11-2-2 with a 1.57 goals-against average and .949 save percentage over his last 16 starts and helped the Blues remain two points behind Western Conference-leading Dallas. His return also stabilized a defense that surrendered 13 goals in consecutive road losses to the Stars and Edmonton prior to the Vancouver win.

The Blues bounced back by logging a season-high 50 shots against the Canucks and dealing Vancouver (27-33-13) the second of three straight shutout defeats, tying a franchise record.

Vancouver finally broke the drought when Bo Horvat and Daniel Sedin scored in the first period Thursday at Nashville, though it failed to hold the early two-goal lead in a 3-2 shootout defeat that extended its season-high losing streak to six games. It's the Canucks' longest skid since losing seven straight from Jan. 27-Feb. 8, 2014.

The result was still viewed as a positive after Vancouver totaled three goals in dropping five straight in regulation. The Canucks also went 1 for 2 on the power play after going 0 for 25 over their previous eight.

''It's never good to lose, but you've got to look at the way we played and I thought we played one of our best games of the year,'' captain Henrik Sedin said. They've got a great team over there. They're Cup contenders and they're going to make a push.''

The injury-riddled Canucks also got a key player back in Jannik Hansen, second on the club with 19 goals. The forward had missed the previous 11 games with a rib injury.

Vancouver has continued to receive solid work from its goaltending duo of Ryan Miller, who registered 47 saves in Saturday's loss to St. Louis, and Jacob Markstrom. The latter is expected to start on Friday after Miller had 30 saves against Nashville.

Markstrom has lost three straight starts but is coming off a career-high 47 saves in Tuesday's 2-0 defeat at Winnipeg. The Swede has performed well on the road, compiling a 6-4-2 record and 2.24 GAA in 12 starts.

The Canucks have won three straight in St. Louis and had a six-game series win streak halted with a 4-3 home loss on Oct. 16.

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