He then waited up for a 3 a.m. start so he could watch his son play his first NHL game in the Vancouver Canucks’ 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars that evened the Western Conference quarter-final series at one game each.
“He was proud of me,” Hansen said in the Canucks dressing room Saturday morning, before he caught a plane to Dallas for Sunday’s Game 3. “He was even more excited for himself than I could be.”
The play of Hansen, called up from the AHL Manitoba Moose due to injuries to Matt Cooke (groin) and Ryan Kesler (broken finger) was a ray of sunshine in the darkness surrounding the Canucks loss.
Hansen, 21, the 287th player taken in the 2004 draft, not only took a regular shift with Jan Bulis and Bryan Smolinski, he also saw time on the Canucks power play. He logged 9:43 of ice time, managed four shots on goal, and had one thought in his head as he stepped on the ice to start the game.
“Just don’t throw a pizza or anything like that,” Hansen grinned.
“It was a little overwhelming being out there early. I had shaky hands. The first couple of shifts the puck didn’t feel right. After that I got into the game. I forgot about the crowd and the importance of the game and stared to play. After a while it got better.”
Now all coach Alain Vigneault has to do is hope the rest of his team plays with the rookie’s intensity in Game 3.
Even though the best of-seven series is tied 1-1 it just as easily could be 2-0 for Dallas.
Vancouver won the opening Game 5-4 in quadruple overtime after blowing a two-goal, third-period lead. The Stars controlled Game 2 after scoring just 24 seconds into the match, then added another goal when the second period was just 45 seconds old.
The Stars don’t make many mistakes defensively. They have managed to keep the Canucks shooting from the perimeter.
On offence, the Stars have been able to break out of their own end and move the puck with ease in the Vancouver zone. The Dallas passing is pinpoint and there always seems to be a man open to take the shot.
If the series were a chess match, the Stars always look to be a move ahead.
“They are a good team, a very smart team,” said veteran centre Trevor Linden. “We are a smart team. We have to play like that.
“We have to execute really well within the confines of what we are trying to do. You can’t come away from your game, go helter shelter. We have to maintain what we are doing to generate more chances.”
Centre Brendan Morrison said the Canucks need to show poise and patience.
“They are a good puck position team,” said Morrison, who was held to one shot in Friday’s loss. “They have some D men that are good at identifying two-on-ones, drawing players towards them, then moving the puck, so it can be a little frustrating.
“We have to be really sound positionally and try and eliminate their time and space with the puck. And when we have a chance to finish checks, finish checks.”
Captain Markus Naslund said the Canucks need to make life more difficult for Dallas goalie Marty Turco.
“We’ve got to get more traffic,” said Naslund. “We’ve got to make better decisions at times when we have chances, hold on to the puck and not be so predictable.”
The Stars know their first home game can be pivotal for the series.
“We wanted to regain some momentum and get some confidence going back home,” said Mike Modano.
Centre Mike Ribeiro said the Stars have to keep playing their tight, defensive game.
“It’s a new series,” he said. “You have to be careful not trying to do too much playing at home.
“Play simple, play as a team. When we play a good defensive game we have a better chance at winning.”
Vigneault said the Stars haven’t done anything the Canucks didn’t expect.
“The series is what we expected,” he said. “We expected it to be hard fought and tight and that’s what it has been so far.”
Defenceman Willie Mitchell said the Canucks can’t afford mistakes. Twice Friday the Canucks took penalties that negated a Vancouver power play.
“It’s going to be little things and little mistakes that could cost the team,” said Mitchell. “You have to limit those.
“The team that limits those as much as possible is the team that is going to come out on top. We’ll try to ratchet down our major, glaring mistakes, go in there and get a few points.”
Vigneault expects forward Alex Burrows, who missed Friday’s game with a suspected concussion, will play Sunday. Cooke remains doubtful and Kesler is gone for up to five weeks.
That means Hansen will make his second playoff start.
“I thought he had a lot of energy and competed hard in is one-on-one situations,” said Vigneault. “You could see a lot of skill and some speed.
“In this series, that is obviously something we need.”