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Alex Burrows healthy again and providing a spark on Vancouver's top line

VANCOUVER - Alex Burrows says his brain is telling his rehabbed shoulder it's OK to stop worrying about the effects of off-season surgery and it's showing on the ice.

Burrows, the Vancouver Canucks' top sniper with 35 goals last season, had a breakthrough game Wednesday against Colorado and hopes it's a building block heading into Friday's game with the San Jose Sharks.

"My shoulder has been a process," Burrows, who missed 10 games at the start of the season, said after Thursday's practice. "It was something I knew when I was going to go through surgery, the rehab and everything.

"The shoulder felt fine when I got back but at the same time it's just a matter of making sure your brain tells the shoulder: 'It's good to go, it's fine, don't worry about it.'

"It's a freaky thing, you can tell your brain but it always holds you back a little bit. Now it feels better and the brain is letting go."

The six-foot-one, 188-pound abraisive winger from Pinecourt, Que., was reunited on the top line with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin against the Avalanche and scored an important insurance goal in a 4-2 win.

He had several chances earlier in the contest and was on the end of a three-way passing play that gave goalie Peter Budaj no chance, triggering a quick release as the puck arrived.

Coach Alain Vigneault said Burrows' recovery was tougher than if he had been injured and operated on during the season.

"It's unfortunate that when a player doesn't have training camp it seems that it takes him a little bit longer to find his rhythm," Vigneault said of Burrows, who blossomed last season when he became a fixture with the twins.

Burrows said his legs are better after 11 games and he's back in a comfort zone after scoring his second goal of the season to help the Canucks end a four-game losing skid.

"In the third they made perfect plays and I just had to shoot the puck," Burrows said of his Swedish linemates. "I know what they're going to do, I know what kind of players they are and I know they are able to make plays defensively."

Vancouver also added speed to the second line when Jeff Tambellini patrolled the right side for centre Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond.

The move dropped 30-goal scorer Mikael Samuelsson to the third line but he's still getting power-play minutes.

Tambellini, in his first game since being recalled from the AHL Manitoba Moose after scoring five goals and seven points in seven games, was in on Kesler's winning goal.

He felt his speed helped create some chemistry with his new linemates.

"Right off the start we had a couple of good shifts and moved the puck well," said the five-foot-11, 186-pound Calgary native who's the son of Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini.

"Just trying to keep up with those guys is half the battle. Usually when you have three guys that kind of play the same way, it meshes well and hopefully it stays the same way (Friday) night."

Tambellini, 26, is in his sixth NHL season and has 20 goals and 50 points in 187 games.

"His skill set should put him in the offensive role," Vigneault said. "He's a guy that's got speed and good release, sees the ice well.

"For whatever reason whether it's the opportunity or him not putting it all together he hasn’t been able to stick on a regular basis in the NHL (but) I liked what I saw (Wednesday) night."

Vigneault was particularly impressed with Tambellini's work in puck battles along the boards.

"He got an opportunity to play with some offensive players, he did a good job and for our benefit I hope he’ll continue to do that."

Notes:Forward Peter Schaefer has declined to report to Manitoba after being waived by the Canucks earlier this week when Tambellini was called up ... Schaefer’s wife is due to deliver their second child in early December ... Schaefer, 33, has about US$600,000 remaining on his buyout two seasons ago by Boston.


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