VANCOUVER, B.C. – Daniel Sedin was surprised his second goal of the night turned out to be the game-winner.
Sedin gave Vancouver a 4-1 cushion with less than 14 minutes remaining, but the Canucks barely escaped with a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. “You cannot relax against these guys,” Sedin said of Anaheim’s comeback in a chippy, physical game where the clubs combined for 66 penalty minutes.
“They have a lot of offensive weapons. We knew it was going to be tight but we should have made it a game at that point.”
The win vaulted the Canucks over the Calgary Flames into first place in the NHL’s Northwest Division.
Sedin scored his second of the game, and his team-leading 17th of the season, when Ducks defenceman Brett Festerling mishandled the puck at the Vancouver blue-line, and the Canuck winger outraced two defenders to beat netminder Jonas Hiller.
“He missed the pass and I was fortunate to pick it up,” said Sedin, who has six goals in his last seven games. “I had some speed already so it was easy.”
But Scott Niedermayer scored on a 5-on-3 power play to bring the Ducks within two, then Samuel Pahlsson buried a rebound when Corey Perry plucked the puck out of the air with his stick and deflected it on Vancouver goalie Curtis Sanford.
The Canucks were lucky to win as Anaheim missed out on a couple of great chances to score. Pahlsson had a goal disallowed earlier in the period because he kicked the puck into the net, and Chris Pronger had the puck hop over his stick in the final minute when he had an open net with Hiller lifted for a sixth attacker.
The Canucks were outshot 14-3 in the third period but the Ducks ran into penalty trouble in the first 40 minutes, allowing Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler to score off power-play rebounds.
Vancouver won for the third time in four games to improve to 19-12-3 while the Ducks lost for the second time in three starts to slip to 18-13-3.
Vancouver is a point ahead of Calgary, who face the Ducks on Tuesday.
Bobby Ryan opened the scoring on an Anaheim power play.
The two clubs top the NHL in penalty minutes. Each scored twice with the man advantage Monday but Anaheim gave up nine power plays to five for the Canucks.
“It’s hard to win games when you take that many penalties,” Pahlsson said. “We got close, but it’s not enough. We weren’t good enough before that.”
Vancouver’s second power-play unit provided a 2-1 lead after the Canucks were 0-for-6 Saturday in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
And Kesler got Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks’ top scorer, off the ice for five minutes in the third period.
“I saw there was only 10 minutes left in the game and if I could get him out for at least five, that being their best player, that would probably be good for us,” Kesler said of his decision to challenge the bigger Getzlaf.
“It was definitely a playoff-style atmosphere. We definitely have some heated rivalries going out there. I don’t know what it is but we really don’t seem to like each other that much.”
Niedermayer said he didn’t have an answer for giving Vancouver 13 minutes 15 seconds of power-play time.
“It was tough because they ran the power play well and made us pay,” Niedermayer said. “Teams are going to do that when we’re in the box like we were as much as we were tonight.”
NOTES: Teemu Selanne was out with a lacerated thigh muscle … he had two goals and two assists in the 7-6 shootout loss to the Canucks on Oct. 31 … his roster spot was taken by Andrew Ebbett of Vernon, B.C., a call-up from the AHL Iowa Chops … centre Brendan Morrison played his first regular-season game against the Canucks after seven campaigns in Vancouver … Todd Marchant played his 1,000th league game … Anaheim’s his fourth NHL club … he’s the Ducks’ leading scorer against Vancouver.