ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Vancouver Canucks are back on top of the NHL standings.
Daniel Sedin scored two goals, twin brother Henrik had a goal and two assists, and the Canucks moved into a tie for first place with a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
“One of the things we’ve talked about improving was 5-on-5 play,” goalie Cory Schneider said. “Early on we struggled 5-on-5 and didn’t generate as much offence as we can, but the last 15 games we’ve been much more effective.
“With the amount of skill we have, it was just a matter of time until guys started making more plays and scoring more goals.”
The Canucks, who won the Presidents’ Trophy last season with 117 points before losing to Boston in the Stanley Cup finals, tied Chicago for first place in the overall standings at 50 points with their 15th win in 19 games.
“We’re as good as last year (at this stage), but we’re a different team,” Daniel Sedin said. “We had a lot of new faces coming in, and different kinds of players. But we have a deep lineup and we’ve got everyone contributing on the back end. Tonight, three of our lines scored and the fourth was playing extremely well.”
Cody Hodgson and Mason Raymond also scored for Vancouver.
Schneider made 30 saves in his first start since giving up four goals in a loss at Carolina on Dec. 15. Anaheim was 0 for 6 on the power play.
“The PK was great,” Schneider said. “We took some penalties when they were pressuring us, and they have so much talent that it’s hard to really contain them and keep them off the board. But we were working hard, blocking shots, and even got some really good short-handed chances.”
After ending a 1-4 road trip Monday at San Jose with a 3-2 win that snapped a 13-game road losing streak, the Ducks began a six-game homestand with their 16th loss in 20 games. They haven’t won two in a row since a four-game stretch that followed their opening-night loss to Buffalo.
“In the games we’ve lost, we’ve beaten ourselves,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who is 3-7-2 since taking over for Randy Carlyle. “All five of their goals, they were based on turnovers. And you can’t turn the puck over to a team that offensively gifted.”
Bobby Ryan and Nick Bonino scored third-period goals for Anaheim. Jonas Hiller stopped 12 of 16 shots before being replaced by Dan Ellis at 7:59 of the second period after Daniel Sedin scored his 16th goal to give Vancouver a 4-0 lead.
The Ducks have lost 18 of the 19 games in which Hiller has allowed more than two goals.
“We knew they were hot right now and one of the top teams, but it looked like we weren’t ready to compete with them,” Hiller said.
The Canucks opened the scoring 71 seconds in. Anaheim defenceman Toni Lydman tried to backhand the puck to Bonino along the end boards, but Alexandre Burrows intercepted the pass and quickly set up Henrik Sedin in the slot.
Hodgson made it 2-0 at 18:29, beating Lydman to the puck and converting his own rebound. Lydman has a rating of minus-14 through Anaheim’s first 36 games after finishing last season at a career-best plus-32.
“Lydman’s been up and down. There’s a lot of times he’s really good, and there’s times like tonight,” Boudreau said. “I thought their first two goals were a direct fault of his.”
The Canucks are 20-4 when scoring first, and 8-0 when one of the Sedins scores the team’s first goal.
“My linemates are so easy to find, and we also have our defenceman joining in the rush. So it seems like every time you get the puck you’ve got two or three options to give the puck to,” Henrik Sedin said.
Raymond scored Vancouver’s third goal at 3:28 of the second.
Ryan ended Schneider’s shutout bid with 13:49 left, two seconds after Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa served a slashing penalty.
NOTES: The Sedins scored in the same game for the fourth time this season (3-1). … Vancouver is 18-0 when leading after two periods. … Anaheim C Saku Koivu missed his eighth straight game because of a groin strain. … Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has only two goals in his last 27 games.