NHL Hockey

Canucks still shorthanded heading into matchup with Blues

The shorthanded Vancouver Canucks will try to make do with a makeshift lineup again when they host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

With goaltenders Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak shelved in COVID-19 protocol, the Canucks turned to Spencer Martin on Friday in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.

"You're playing a really great team and you're missing a lot of your better players," Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But everybody stepped up to the plate. Some of the guys played more minutes, I'm sure, than they've ever played at the NHL level before and they played good. When you lose, you lose. But when you get a point out of something like that, that's a really good point."

Demko and Halak are not expected back to face the Blues in the Canucks' second home game since Dec. 14. Key forwards J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat and Conor Garland, who are in the protocol as well, are also not expected to play.

But the Canucks, who are 10-3-2 since Boudreau took over as coach, played the powerful Panthers well while earning a point.

"I hope it gives them belief that when you play the right way -- and we played the right way tonight -- that you can play with anybody," Boudreau said. "That's pretty well what the message is. We played a hungry team tonight."

Florida clobbered Edmonton 6-0 Thursday night in its previous game, but the Canucks kept the Panthers in check to force the shootout.

"In the first and second period, I'm pretty sure we out-chanced them and we could have built the lead up, but just didn't," Boudreau said. "They've got championship-caliber players on their team and they came through at the end."

The Blues, who are 7-2-0 since returning from the NHL's extended holiday break, are much closer to full strength. Winger Pavel Buchnevich is back from COVID-19 protocol, but he will need to sit out this game due to Canadian protocol.

Defenseman Scott Perunovich has also been sidelined in the protocol. Otherwise, the Blues had their full lineup in Seattle when they rolled to a 5-0 victory over the Kraken.

"The first period was good," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "Our special teams were really good in the first. I thought we were energized and skating."

Goaltender Ville Husso (7-2-1, 2.02 goals-against average, .938 save percentage) earned that shutout, so there's a chance Berube will start him again and then use Jordan Binnington (11-8-3, 3.06, .906) for the next game in Calgary. Husso has been pushing Binnington for more playing time.

"I told you we were gonna use both goalies and we're gonna continue to do that," Berube said. "But Ville came off a real good outing (against Nashville) and it was just a decision that I went with."

Berube downplayed talk of a goaltender controversy, adding that Binnington "understands the situation for sure. Binnington's gonna be a big part of whatever we do. I can tell you that right now. Just like Ville Husso is. Binner, he's worked hard in practice and he'll be ready to go when he gets the call again."

This will be the first meeting between the Canucks and Blues this season.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 22, 2022

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