Game 73: That Kass can pass
The 23-year-old power forward notched four assists – the first four-point outing of his NHL career – to help the Canucks overcome a 2-0 deficit and soar past his former team by a final score of 4-2 on Sunday at Rogers Arena.
Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias, Yannick Weber and David Booth all scored for the Canucks, who have now won back-to-back games for the first time since January 18 and 21 when they knocked off the Flames and Oilers in consecutive outings.
The victory allowed the Canucks to creep within three points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, albeit the eighth-place Coyotes hold two games in hand.
Sunday certainly did not start off looking like it was going to be the Canucks' night. The Sabres were up 2-0 before the game was even three-and-a-half minutes old thanks to goals from Tyler Ennis and Jamie McBain which came on Buffalo's first three shots of the contest.
But, as the Canucks would learn shortly after, the Sabres aren't the worst team in the NHL for no reason.
Kassian got the Canucks' comeback started setting up Richardson at 10:12 of the first period before doing the same with Matthias just over two minutes later to square the affair at 2-2.
The Canucks would take the lead, as it turned out, for good just 1:40 into the middle stanza after Weber, having taken a feed from Kassian and managing to force his way into the Buffalo zone down the right wing, unleashed a weak wrist shot that somehow managed to elude Nathan Lieuwen and squeak by the Buffalo netminder's five-hole.
Booth would round out the scoring early in the third period netting his first goal in 33 games after taking a feed from Kassian on a 2-on-1 and beating Lieuwen with a snap shot.
Lieuwen would finish the night making 32 saves on 36 shots in the defeat.
Eddie Lack would rebound from a tough start to make 16 saves on 18 shots in the victory.
The news wasn't all good for the Canucks on this night, however. Team captain Henrik Sedin, who was being honoured throughout the contest for appearing in 1,000 career NHL games, left in the second period after suffering a suspected leg injury.
The Canucks begin a two-game-in-two-days road trip on Wednesday in Minnesota.
NOTES AND NUMBERS: Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler both returned to the Canucks' lineup after coming off injuries. Both were held point-less in the victory… Shawn Matthias recorded his 100th career point with his assist on Richardson's goal. He also notched his third career three-point game – his first as a Canuck and second of the season… Despite his four-assist effort, Zack Kassian was just one of four Canucks not to record a shot on Sunday. The others were Ryan Stanton, Zac Dalpe and Tom Sestito.
ROUND 3 GOES TO KASS: In the third head-to-head meeting between the Canucks and Sabres since the Hodgson-for-Kassian swap, it was Kassian who once again got the best of Hodgson while Vancouver has posted a record of two wins and one loss against Buffalo since that trade. With his four assists on Sunday, Kassian now has one goal and six points in three career games against the Sabres. Hodgson, meanwhile, is still point-less after three career games against the Canucks. The latter appeared in his 200th career NHL game on Sunday, 71 of which came in a Vancouver uniform.
CLAIM TO FAME: Sabres goalie Nathan Lieuwen fell short in his bid to pick up his first NHL win on Sunday but he's already achieved another first. Lieuwen is just one of seven players from Abbotsford to crack the NHL and the first goaltender to do so. Lieuwen is truly a BC born and bred netminder plying his trade with the BCHL's Westside Warriors and WHL's Kootenay Ice before making the jump to the pros.