VANCOUVER, B.C. – It was not a time for the Vancouver Canucks to show any mercy.
They had lost three in a row and pounced on two inexperienced goalies Saturday for a 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Sparked by Alex Burrows’ short-handed goal which gave them a 2-1 lead, the Canuck scored four goals in five minutes 18 seconds to chase AHL call-up John Curry.
He left with nine saves and a 5-1 deficit as Penguins coach Dan Bylsma sent in junior Alexander Pechurski, who was playing in pads borrowed from Marc-Andre Fleury.
“I did feel bad for the kid,” Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo said of Curry, an undrafted, 25-year-old free agent from Shorewood, Minn.
He made his fourth NHL appearance because Fleury injured the ring finger on his catching hand in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Edmonton.
“I’ve been there, we’ve all been through that,” said Luongo who didn’t have to match saves with Fleury, a fellow Canadian Olympian. “It’s not an easy thing but it happens and you grow from that stuff and you get a bit more experience.”
Regular backup Brent Johnson is out with a lower-body injury.
Pechurski, a 19-year-old Russian from Magntigorsk who played Friday in Kennewick, Wash., for the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, also looked shaky when the Canucks blasted away from all angles.
However, he settled down to allow only one goal on 13 shots and was named the game’s third star.
“He did all right, he made some saves, let me tell you,” said Luongo.
Bylsma said his club needed a goalie change regardless of who dressed as the backup.
“I think that’s the definition of getting thrown into the fire. From having to get the call last night, to wearing Flower’s pads tonight, it’s a lot to ask of a young kid. But he played fantastic, stood in there and was confident.”
Henrik Sedin, who also had two assists to increase his NHL-leading points total to 67, drew Vancouver even after Evgeni Malkin ended an 11-game goal drought to open the scoring for the Penguins.
Burrows then stripped Sergei Gonchar of the puck and beat Curry with his familiar forehand deke-backhand shot.
Mikael Samuelsson, Jannik Hansen and Willie Mitchell, with a career-high fourth goal of the season scored in the first 3:56 of the second period.
Pechurski gave up Kesler’s goal, a puck that was twice deflected, on the third shot he faced.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault gave most of the third-period power play minutes to his team’s third and fourth lines.
Ex-Canuck Matt Cooke completed the scoring for Pittsburgh, who became Vancouver’s eighth Eastern Conference victim in nine games.
Vancouver improved to 28-18-2 and moved into a tie for sixth in the Western Conference with the idle Calgary Flames.
The Penguins lost for the second time as they concluded a five-game road trip and dropped to 30-19-1.
Burrows said Vigneault wanted the Canucks to shoot more in the second period and it paid off with goals coming off screens and deflections.
“It was nice to get a few goals because that team you never know, they can come back and score a lot of goals,” said Burrows, who has 11 goals in his last six games and is tied with Henrik Sedin for the team lead with 21.
Sidney Crosby said the Sedins and Burrows outplayed his line with Cooke and Bill Guerin.
“They controlled the puck, especially the first two periods, they just outplayed us,” said the Penguins captain. “It wasn’t anything we didn’t expect. They’re talented and they make plays.”
He agreed the 19-year-old Pucherski showed poise in his NHL debut. Crosby brought a puck to the goaltender after the game.
“That’s not an easy situation to go into,” said Crosby. “They had a lot of momentum and they were still creating a lot of good chances when he came in. He showed a lot of guts coming in and playing the way he did.”
Pechurski said through interpreter Gonchar that he wasn’t comfortable in Fleury’s pads, which he wore because his junior equipment might not meet NHL measurements.
“I was excited I had a chance to play,” he said. “It was like a dream for me coming and playing in the NHL.
“In the game everyone was helping me and cheering me up.”
Notes: The Penguins signed Pechurski to a one-game amateur tryout … He was drafted by Pittsburgh in the fifth round in 2008 … Mitchell played despite a sore back from a hit by Minnesota forward Derek Boogaard on Wednesday … He didn’t play another shift after being driven hard into the end boards by Malkin in the third period … Pavol Demitra returned to the Canucks lineup after missing the first 47 games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery.