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Canucks cap three-game home sweep

2/29/2004

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- With the clock ticking down
and the St. Louis Blues pressing in front of his net, Vancouver Canucks goalie Johan Hedberg was relieved to hear a referee's whistle.

Then he found out why it was blown.

With the Canucks up 2-0 and 3.4 seconds left to play, Vancouver
defenseman Bryan Allen had dislodged his own net behind Hedberg,
giving the Blues an automatic penalty shot.

"I was surprised they called a penalty shot; I didn't know that
was the rule," Hedberg said after making a sprawling glove save -- his 31st of
the game -- off Pavol Demitra to preserve both his shutout and a 2-0
win over the Blues on Saturday night.

"It was an interesting end to the game," Hedberg added. "I
made him make the first move, then hoped to make the save."

Demitra's first move was a strong deke to his backhand, but
Hedberg did the splits and stretched his glove out over his left
pad to pick Demitra's shot out of the air.

"I was thinking I got him, but his glove was right there,"
Demitra said. "He was quick."

Artem Chubarov scored on a lucky bounce 4:54 into the second
period and Mattias Ohlund added a power-play goal with 4:05 left
as the Canucks swept their three-game homestand. Vancouver moved
within a point of Colorado atop the Northwest Division.

"It's a good thing to win home games and give us a boost,"
Chubarov said.

Hedberg, making his first start in two weeks, had his second
shutout this season, the ninth of his career.

Hedberg robbed Demitra twice in the first period on one-timers
from point-blank range and dove across head first to take an empty
net away from Keith Tkachuk in the second, stopping the puck with
his mask.

"I just tried to get it off as quick as possible and wanted to
make sure I got it up, and it hit him right in the helmet," Tkachuk
said. "That's just the way the night was going. We get a guy we
want on a penalty shot at the end, and he couldn't score either."

Chris Osgood finished with 27 saves for the Blues, who are
winless in four games and remain two points behind Calgary for the
final Western Conference playoff spot.

The Blues' biggest problem is scoring. St. Louis has failed to
score more than two goals in 21 of 28 games in 2004. This was the
fifth time the Blues have been shut out in that time.

"We had our opportunities. We generated a lot of shots, and
you've got to give him credit -- Hedberg played real well," Tkachuk
said.

So did Osgood, who couldn't be faulted on either Vancouver goal.

Chubarov scored an unassisted goal four seconds after leaving
the bench on a line change and skated right to a loose puck just
inside the St. Louis zone. He simply threw a soft wrist shot at the
net, and Blues center Doug Weight, lifting his leg in an attempt to
avoid the puck as he cruised through the top of the crease, kicked
it past a helpless Osgood.

"It hit Dougie in the leg and went up into the top of the
net," Osgood said "They had a good line change and came off the
bench fast and caught us. We only had three guys in the zone."

Osgood was at his best killing off the first six Vancouver power
plays, including a lengthy two-man advantage midway through the
second period in which he stopped Sami Salo on three separate shots from the point.

He kept it close in the third with a couple of close-range stops off the stick of Canucks captain and leading scorer Markus Naslund before Ohlund finally beat him with a screened point shot on Vancouver's next power play.

"You roll the dice against their power play that many times,
they re going to score," Osgood said.

St. Louis was blanked on four power-play chances as Hedberg, a
deft stick handler, cleared the zone several times on his own.

"Johan had a huge game for us," Ohlund said. "He's so good
playing the puck, especially against a team like St. Louis. It
takes the forecheck away a little bit."

Game notes
St. Louis wraps up a five-game road trip in San Jose on Sunday
night, the first of four sets of back-to-back games for the Blues
in the next 18 days. The Blues then host Calgary on Tuesday. ...
Vancouver won the season series with St. Louis 3-1-0. ... Osgood is
13-4-4 all time in the regular season against Vancouver, but three
losses have come since joining the Blues on the March 11 trading
deadline last season.