VANCOUVER, British Columbia - All the principal actors watched from the press box Monday night, but the show had the same old ending.
In a rematch of last season’s conference semi-finals, the Ducks managed to shave the Canucks once again winning 3-2 in overtime.
Petteri Wirtanen scored his second goal of the game 3:24 in OT to dish Vancouver a loss in their first pre-season game of the season.
Wirtanen cruised over the blue line and snapped a puck that tipped off Alexander Edler and past Drew MacIntyre.
Daniel Sedin tied the game for Vancouver with 4:16 left in regulation. The Ducks rested most of their big-name players and the fourth line of Wirtanen, George Parros and Brad May picked up the slack, combining for all three goals and seven points.
May set up Parros in the slot less than six minutes into the first period and Wirtanen banged in a loose puck after May drove it to the net just over six minutes into the second period. Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves in his first full game of the preseason, as the Ducks improved to 2-1-1.
“I thought it was an exhibition game,” said Alain Vigneualt. “It was a scrambling first period there, but it got better as the game went on. Obviously, you could tell [Anaheim] had been in game situations before earlier on in the game, but our guys got better and the game got better and better as it went on.”
Ryan Shannon, who won a Cup with the Ducks before being traded to the Canucks this summer, played the point on the Canucks’ first power-play unit and set up Nathan McIver for the other Vancouver goal.
“I liked what Ryan did for us tonight,” said Vigneault. “I like what he did five-on-five and I liked what he did on the point on the power-play.”
“The first period there were a lot of jitters and I had a lot of nerves coming into the game, but I settled down and had fun,” said Shannon.
The Canucks iced an extremely green defence with Kevin Bieksa and Willie Mitchell the only NHL regulars. McIver had a strong game, but all eyes focused on the big two blue line prospects Alexander Edler and Luc Bourdon.
Elder played sound game, but struggled to find his game offensively missing the net twice in the dying minutes with a chance to win it on the power play.
“I made a couple of bad passes and I got caught a few times - and that fluky goal in the end - but that’s hockey,” said Edler.
Bourdon was on the ice for three of Anaheim’s goals, including the overtime winner.
“I thought Luc’s game got better as the game went on,” said Vigneault. “There’s a lot of things that Luc, like a lot of young players, needs to work on. He’s no different and this is the first game. I expect him to get better as he goes on.”
Vigneault elected to skate Jozef Balej on a line with the Twins. The trio were easily the most dangerous line, though only the Twins found the score sheet hooking up late in the third.
“I thought the Twins and [Balej] had some moments there on the ice,” said Vigneault.
“I seemed to play really well with them, but with so many chances, it seems that I should’ve put the puck in the net,” said Balej.
Curtis Sanford stopped 14-of -16 shots before McIntyre relieved him midway through the game. Macintyre made five saves before Wirtanen's overtime winner while Sanford faced a slew of early Duck power plays.
“Its not what I expected to give up, two goals,” said Sanford, “but you know, at the same time, we had a lot of chances to kill off penalties and a couple of five-on-threes …but overall we lost the game, and that’s disappointing.”
Neither team dressed more than half their regular lineup.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo sat out a day after being hit in the throat by a puck during an intra-squad game, as did captain Markus Naslund.
The Ducks, who played the night before in Phoenix, rested Chris Pronger, Andy MacDonald, Chris Kunitz and former Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi, who signed a two-year, $8-million contract in Anaheim this summer. It would have been Bertuzzi's first game against his old team since being traded to Florida for Luongo at the 2006 NHL Draft.
“I like the competitiveness on defence of both [Nathan] McIver and [Zack] Fitzgerald, so there were some things that stood out to me” – Vigneault on a surprisingly resilient Vancouver blue line.
“I did [hesitate] a couple times. I remember the one that [Henrik] passed to me and I should’ve shot it. I tried to make a fancy play instead of shooting and it didn’t work out.” – Jozef Balej lamenting a missed opportunity to score on a partial two-on-one break in the second period.
“I thought he was okay tonight but you can see a lot of upside. He protects the puck real well, he’s got good speed, got a chance to play on the power-play tonight but there’s definitely something there. We have to remember he’s just a young man and he needs some growing time and some playing time. We will give him that.” – Vigneault on the play of Ryan Shannon.