VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks bent against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, blowing a 2-0 third-period lead.
Unlike so many nights last season, however, they didn't break.
After getting caught on the ice when the Canadiens tied the game with 2:33 left in the third period, Henrik Sedin set up twin brother Daniel for the winning goal on a power play with 2:15 left in overtime to lead the Canucks to a 3-2 win at Rogers Arena.
"You should not give up a 2-0 lead at home," Daniel Sedin said. "But we stuck with our game plan, no panic, and it paid off."
Too many times last season the snowball kept rolling downhill when things started to go bad, and the end result was missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons. But after letting a couple of games against fast teams get away from them earlier this season, the Canucks stayed calm after blowing the lead late.
"It starts with Ryan. We trust him a lot," he said. "He is so calm. That spreads throughout the team."
The Sedins didn't panic despite struggling early during the overtime power play after Montreal defenseman Tom Gilbert was called for interference in the offensive zone. As the penalty wound down, Henrik sent Daniel in alone behind the defense and he beat Carey Price high over the blocker.
"It was nice to see it go in," Henrik Sedin said. "Our line can play better, but we rolled the lines, we were fresh, we're playing good defensively. We really should have won this after 60 minutes."
Brad Richardson put the Canucks ahead by two 2:17 into the third period, but Alex Galchenyuk started Montreal's comeback by deflecting P.K. Subban's point shot past Miller with 7:49 left in regulation.
Former Canucks forward Dale Weise set up Max Pacioretty for the tying goal just over five minutes later. Weise, who was traded to the Canadiens last season after struggling to get into Vancouver's lineup, took a pass in the high slot and drew Miller out of his crease with a good fake before feeding across for Pacioretty, who one-timed it past Miller before he could recover.
"I thought we showed a lot of character battling back," Subban said. "To be honest, that's exciting to see so early in the season, a team that even when we're down we're not out of it. I know that getting that type of reputation around the League means a lot."
Price made 27 saves and the Canadiens finished 1-1-1 on a Western Canada trip after winning eight of their first nine games.
"I like the way we competed tonight, that was our fourth game in six days with travel and we never gave up and gave ourselves a chance to win this hockey game," coach Michel Therrien said.
The Canadiens (8-2-1) certainly impressed the Canucks.
"You can tell why their record is where it is," Henrik Sedin said. "They've got a really good team. They play fast. We battled. Our effort was top notch."
The fast-paced game was not without controversy.
The Canucks opened the scoring 8:29 into the second period after Montreal defensemen Alexei Emelin was knocked down and out of the play on a high hit by Alexandre Burrows right after making a bad pass up the middle that was intercepted easily by Nick Bonino. With Emelin lying on the ice, Nick Bonino broke in with Derek Dorsett, got defenseman Jarred Tinordi to commit to the ice on a cross-ice pass, then converted the return feed for a backdoor tap-in.
Emelin had to be helped off the ice, leaving the Canadiens furious the play wasn't blown dead and Burrows wasn't penalized after catching an off-balance Emelin in the head with the top of his left arm.
"We all saw the hit to the head and instead of having a power play of five minutes the puck is in your own net," Therrien said. "Frustrating."
Emelin missed the rest of the second period but returned for the third.
"He passed all his tests and doctor said he was fine to go, so doctor decision," Therrien said. "But that was a dirty hit to the head, so this is something we try to eliminate from our game."
Burrows was happy to see Emelin come back, but didn't want to talk about the possibility of facing supplemental discipline.
"I was trying to finish my check and my intent was not to hurt him," Burrows said. "Obviously you never want to hurt someone and I'm glad he came back. He looked all right in the third."
Miller kept it 1-0 with a great backdoor save off Rene Bourque late in the second period and got a break two minutes into the third when defenseman Luca Sbisa got his left glove on a fluttering puck during a scramble, knocking it just over the empty net.
Vancouver broke out the other way and Richardson used a retreating Tinordi as a screen off the rush before firing a wrist shot over the Price's glove from the top of the right circle. It was the third goal in two games for Richardson after the third-line left wing failed to score in the first eight games of the season.
"We had a lot of guys stepping up," Henrik Sedin said.
The Canadiens started their comeback after Vancouver was called for icing. Galchenyuk deflected Subban's point shot past Miller, who was bumped by Gallagher as the puck went by him at 12:11, adding animosity to a game already full of post-whistle scrums.
Miller, who traded a handful of great saves with Price throughout the game, didn't think getting bumped affected the outcome. He didn't argue or get upset on the ice after the goal went in.
"My job is to show that there's some calm back there," he said.
That calmness hasn't gone unnoticed by his new teammates, who swept a three-game homestand and improved to 7-3-0.
"It makes it easier for all of us," Daniel Sedin said.