VANCOUVER – Henrik Sedin broke out of a lengthy scoring slump and helped lead the Vancouver Canucks to their second straight President’s Trophy.
Sedin provided the only goal the Vancouver Canucks needed as they clinched first place overall in the NHL with a 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
“It’s been a long 82 games for sure,” he said. “Even though it’s gone by fast, it’s been tough to go through it. But we knew coming in the regular season was not what people would be talking about. Being there last year we knew it was going to be tough to get back to—but now we’re here again and it’s going to be enjoyable.”
The Canucks won the President’s Trophy for the second straight season as they finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 51-22-9 record. They caught a break earlier Saturday as the New York Rangers lost to the Washington Capitals and opened the door for Vancouver to take top spot overall. New York held the advantage on tiebreakers.
“It means we’ve had a good year,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. “This group has played some real solid hockey, and been consistent, and for us to win the President’s Trophy again says a lot about the group of people and the quality of the people we have. Everybody could tell by how we came out in this game our guys really wanted it.”
By finishing first overall, the Canucks ensured themselves home-ice advantage in all playoff rounds for which they qualify.
The Canucks will play the Los Angeles Kings in the first round next week, starting on a date to be announced. As a result of Vancouver’s win, the St. Louis Blues were relegated to second place in the Western Conference.
Edmonton, eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago, finished its season with a 32-40-10 mark.
Sedin finally opened the scoring on a power play at 15:47 of the second period. Burrows found him after Ryan Kesler deflected Alex Edler’s point shot into Dubnyk.
It was Sedin’s first goal in 23 games. His last also came against the Oilers, in Edmonton on Feb. 19.
Sammy Pahlsson, with his first goal in 14 games, and David Booth, with his first in 11, also scored for the Canucks. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo made 17 saves for his fifth shutout of the season as the Canucks outshot the Oilers 42-17.
The loss spoiled an outstanding effort from Edmonton goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
“I really wanted to win tonight,” Dubnyk said. “I think everybody did. I just wanted to continue to work on the things that have been working for me and make sure I felt good going into the off-season.”
Vancouver’s struggling power play converted two of seven man-advantage opportunities while the Oilers were unsuccessful on three.
“That’s a pretty strong team over there and they’re pretty much in tune with what their game needs to look like,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney. “They stick with the plan and they don’t give you too much and they can overcome most of their opponents—and they did with us tonight.
“We spent a little bit too much time in the penalty box and paid for it.”
The Canucks needed to get at least a point after St. Louis beat Dallas earlier Saturday, but the outcome remained in doubt until the last 27 minutes.
Luongo, known to struggle when facing few shots, had little activity most of the night, but he still made timely key saves to preserve the win. Fans, who had cheered raucously when he was pulled two games earlier against Anaheim, feted him with an affectionate chorus of “Louuuuu” from time to time.
With about 21/2 minutes left in the second, Luongo denied Ryan Jones on a breakaway, kicking out his left pad.
“The boys played the system to perfection tonight,” said Luongo, who stopped Ryan Jones on a breakaway late in the second period. “Barely any scoring chances. We had a ton of shots, great way to finish off the regular season. Now it’s time to move on to the most exciting time of year.”
Sedin’s power-play marker resulted after former Canuck Darcy Hordichuk received a roughing double-minor for a skirmish involving him, Vancouver winger Max Lapierre and Edmonton’s Eager.
Pahlsson put the Canucks ahead 2-0 early in the third period as he beat Dubnyk with a low slapshot. Booth increased Vancouver’s lead to 3-0 on a power play midway through the third as broke in alone and deked Dubnyk.
The goal, which came while Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was serving a double-minor for high-sticking. Booth, who was benched in Vancouver’s last home game Thursday against Calgary, had a game-high 11 shots and capitalized after Dubnyk denied him on a number of excellent chances.
Booth, who was was acquired in October in a trade from Florida and has never played in the playoffs before, said he was motivated to do well as the post-season approached.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “Now, it’s finally here. My first post-season. I’m really looking forward to it.”
By going pointless, Nugent-Hopkins finished in a tie for top rookie scoring honours with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, who was also blanked Saturday. Landeskog finished with four more goals, but Nugent-Hopkins played 20 fewer games due to injury.
Notes: Vancouver F Daniel Sedin missed his ninth game with a concussion. … Canucks F Zack Kassian remained out with an undisclosed upper-body injury. … Canucks F Mason Raymond missed the game to be with his wife as she delivered the their first child. … Nugent-Hopkins would like to play for Canada at the upcoming world championships, if he gets an invitation. Unlike in past seasons, Dubnyk is not sure if he’ll go, because his contract is up for renewal and he is getting married this summer. Manny Malhotra returned to the Vancouver lineup after being scratched against the Calgary Flames on Thursday. He was slotted as a fourth-line winger, while Byron Bitz, a winger until now, played centre. Bitz has played centre in the minors.