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Blues earn season sweep of Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The St. Louis Blues have an
easy explanation for their surprising dominance of the Vancouver
Canucks this season.

Figuring out why they've been better since trading their best
players is tougher.

"We just outworked them," goalie Curtis Sanford said after the
Blues completed a season sweep of Vancouver with a 4-1 win Sunday
night. "When you do that, things usually go your way."

Sanford made 23 saves and rookie center Jay McClement had three
assists for the Blues, who went 4-0 against Vancouver this season,
outscoring the Canucks 16-4 despite trailing them by 30 points in
the Western Conference standings

"We just seem to have their number," said McClement, who set
up Scott Young and Barret Jackman in the first period, then added
his third assist on Lee Stempniak's power-play goal in the third.

Christian Backman also scored for the Blues, who have won seven
of 10 since trading away top scorers Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger
in late January.

"That's tougher to explain, those are our two best centers and
two of our top point-getters," McClement said of the Blues'
improvement since the trades. "It was a big loss for us."

With nine points in his last four games, McClement has helped
make up for that loss. But the 23-year-old center wasn t ready to
accept too much of the credit, instead pointing to improvements in
the defensive zone and a team-wide willingness to work hard.

Canucks captain Markus Naslund agreed.

"I think you ve got to look at the work ethic," Naslund said.
"They outworked us."

Young opened the scoring 2:18 into the game after a delayed
Vancouver penalty to Naslund and a resulting coverage breakdown
left him all alone in front of Alex Auld. The Canucks had a great
chance to tie the game 3 minutes later, but failed to register even
a shot during a 5-on-3 power play for 1:38.

Jackman doubled the Blues lead with 2 minutes left in the first,
pinching in from the point behind Carter's check before taking
McClement's pass out of the corner and beating Auld.

"My fault on the first one and then we let another mistake
happen and we're down 2-0 and that's exactly what we didn t want to
do against these guys because they're a disciplined team, they work
hard and they're tough to get chances against," Naslund said.

Anson Carter got most of the Canucks' chances, but only
converted one that counted. He scored the only Vancouver goal with
3:19 left in the second, but was robbed by Sanford with 20 seconds
left in the period to keep the Blues' lead at two goals.

Carter had another goal called back with 1:50 left after referee
Kerry Fraser ruled he had knocked the puck out of the air past
Sanford with his glove.

Backman made it 3-0 midway through the second -- seconds after
the Canucks killed off a power play -- and Stempniak rounded out the
scoring in the third after Vancouver forward Richard Park was given
a 5-minute penalty and game misconduct for knocking Jackman face
first into the boards with a hit from behind.

Auld finished with 31 saves.
Game notes
Unlike Weight, St. Louis LW Keith Tkachuk, who recorded his
27th point in just 19 games, said he will not waive his no-trade
clause before the upcoming March 9 trade deadline. ... Blues
forward Tomofei Shishkanov played after being called up from AHL
Peoria Saturday to replace Petr Cajanek, who was placed on injured
reserve after hurting his wrist at the Olympics. ... Blues RW
Vladimir Orszagh missed the game with a leg injury. ... Vancouver C
Ryan Kesler played after leaving Friday's game in Chicago with a
knee injury. ... Canucks D Mattias Ohlund has resumed skating after
injury his ribs in the Olympics and could return Thursday against
Nashville, but D Sami Salo is still week-to-week with a shoulder
injury suffered during the Olympics.