Canucks 3, Flames 2
PIC OF THE GAME
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CALGARY -It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't supposed to be – at least not in Calgary where work ethic is revered above all else.
The Canucks donned their hard hats and mucked two points out of the Flames' barn Thursday in a bitterly fought 3-2 decision.
Byron Ritchie notched his first goal of the season against his former team while Roberto Luongo made 36 saves to keep the Canucks unbeaten within the Northwest division at a perfect 5-0.
It didn't come easy as the Flames badly out shot the Canucks in the third period. Calgary used three early power plays to help rack up 24 shots to Vancouver's six, but couldn't beat Luongo.
"They came at us in the third period,” said Luongo. “We had some penalties and it swung the momentum. They were throwing everything at the net, but we managed to hold the fort."
After Ritchie and Alex Burrows scored two goals just 16 seconds apart midway through the second period to go up 3-0, the Flames found life in the form of a late hooking penalty to Henrik Sedin
that sparked an otherwise dormant Flames offense.
"I thought we were excellent for 39 minutes – the first 39 minutes," said Alain Vigneault. "They got their second scoring chance right about the 39-minute mark, so we were playing really well, the way we have to play. Then obviously we got into penalty trouble and they got some big momentum off it, but Lui came up big and made some huge saves for us."
The Flames took advantage of three Vancouver penalties to begin the third as Kristian Huselius scored the first of two Calgary goals just 33-seconds apart to pull the home team within a whisker of a dramatic comeback. Luongo had entirely different designs.
"Obviously he was one of the deciding factor for us in this game," said Vigneault. "He was better than their goaltender tonight."
The Canucks keeper threw up a barricade stopping 22 third-period shots to deliver the Canucks their second consecutive win against Northwest foes.
"Calgary had a lot to prove tonight - they had lost three in a row - and they were fired up for this game," said Brendan Morrison who notched his sixth of the year on a second-period power play. "Obviously [Back-to-back wins] is a step in the right direction. It's a matter of consistency now."
Not only did the Canucks defeat the Flames for the second time this season, they beat them at their own game. It was simple hard work they netted them just enough on the scoreboard to climb back within one game of .500 at 7-8-0.
"We're just paying attention to all the little details, and they’re all over the ice," said Trevor Linden, who had a milestone night with his 412th career assist in a Canucks uniform to move past Stan Smyl on the all-time list.
"In the offensive zone we're in the right position and staying above people and picking the right time to push. I think we're a lot more conscious of that and it's showing in our performance."
Despite grinding on the details through most of a lopsided first, the Canucks didn't get it rolling till the second when they beat Mikka Kiprusoff three times in less than six minutes.
Brendan Morrison opened the scoring on a power play at 2:32, neatly completing a tic-tac-toe passing play with Henrik and Daniel Sedin
Made 36 saves, including 22 in the third period to hold the lead.
Earned his franchise record 412th career assist in the 2nd.
Just one helper, but Dion was easily the best Flame.
Ritchie put Vancouver ahead 2-0 at 7:58 on a harmless-looking wrist shot from a bad angle that Kiprusoff mishandled.
Just 16 seconds later, Calgary defenseman David Hale gave the puck away to Linden in front of the Flames net. Linden then knocked it over to Alex Burrows, who backhanded it into the low corner.
Anders Eriksson and Owen Nolan scored for Calgary (6-7-3).
Adding to the Flames' misery was the loss of Daymond Langkow. The center was knocked out of the game halfway through the second period, after he smashed his head into the glass on a check by Vancouver's Matt Cooke, who was penalized for boarding.
Dion Phaneuf jumped Mattias Ohlund in the aftermath and the pair battled to a draw much to the delight of Calgary fans that have now seen their team drop four straight.
"These games are very important," said Morrison, whose six goals is second on the team to only Daniel Sedin
. "You can make up a lot of ground or lose a lot of ground when you play head-to-head against your own division. So we have a good mindset heading into these games here and we know they're going to be physical games."
: Calgary D Rhett Warrener (throat ailment) missed his third game in a row. ... Jarome Iginla has no goals in his last eight games versus Vancouver. ... Kiprusoff, New York's Henrik Lundqvist and San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov are the only three goalies that have started every one of their team's games.
|Three star selections