VANCOUVER – Cory Schneider redeemed himself in a big way Wednesday night.
Schneider posted 34 saves in regulation time and made a decisive shootout stop as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Calgary Flames 3-2.
“It was extremely important (to get the win),” said Schneider. “I had to have a bounce-back game. I had to show myself and my teammates that first game was a fluke and I felt better as it went on.
“It didn’t happen right away—but when it counted, it felt good.”
The Canucks goaltender made up for a poor season-opening performance when he was pulled after allowing five goals on 14 shots Saturday in a one-sided loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Schneider secured the win by stopping a Curtis Glencross wrist shot on the final shootout attempt of the game.
“I’ve seen him make some nice shots,” said Schneider. “Those lefties come from their off side. A lot of times, they’re looking to shoot, so I just try to stay patient and not go down too early.
“I was reading shot and sometimes you get luck, and sometimes you don’t.”
The Canucks (1-1-1) posted their first win of the lockout-shortened season. The Flames (0-2-1) remained winless after three games. Schneider gave Vancouver the shootout win after they lost to Edmonton in one on Sunday with Roberto Luongo, who was displaced as Vancouver’s starter in last spring’s playoffs, between the pipes while Schneider watched from the bench.
“I was excited for the shootout,” said Schneider, who is now 4-2 for his career in one-on-one segments. “I enjoy them, I really like them and I have a lot of confidence in our shooters.
“It’s fun having the game on the line and you gotta make a save to keep it going so that’s an opportunity I relish. It’s a good challenge for me, it’s gonna mean a lot of points this year so you probably have to like them.”
Zack Kassian paced the Canucks offensively with the shootout winner and another goal in regulation.
“(The shootout winner) is definitely nice, but I think it’s even nicer to finally get in the win column,” said Kassian, who turns 22 on Thursday. “Both teams desperately wanted a win.”
Kassian scored the decisive shootout goal—on his first attempt in the NHL—by deking Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff as the showdown session went to an extra shooter for each team. Alex Burrows also scored in the shootout for Vancouver.
The Windsor, Ont., native, who played in the minors during the lockout, said he is feeling much more comfortable than he did last season after being acquired in a trade at the deadline from Buffalo for Cody Hodgson.
“I don’t even think about the trade,” said Kassian. “It’s over with.”
Mason Raymond chipped in with a goal for Vancouver in regulation.
Alex Tanguay scored in regulation and had one in the shootout for Calgary while Mikael Backlund also scored for the Flames.
“We just haven’t been able to put a full game together but we’re starting to figure out the way coach (Bob) Hartley wants us to play,” said Tanguay. “And we’re starting to get more used to what we have to do out there, and I think that tonight in the latter part of the game was a good example of that.”
Kiprusoff also had a strong night, matching Schneider’s 34-save total. He helped the Flames rally from a 2-0 deficit midway through second period to forge a 2-2 deadlock after 40 minutes following a scoreless first.
The Canucks widely outplayed the Flames in the first half of the second period.
Kassian opened the scoring 6:20 into the second period on a good third effort. He intercepted a Calgary hand-pass, retrieved the puck after his first shot was blocked, and then fired it home. It was Kassian’s second goal of the season.
“I kind of got lucky,” said Kassian. “The puck kept coming back to me, and finally I whacked it into the back of the net. The third time was the charm.”
Raymond put the Canucks up 2-0 on a power play exactly two minutes later.
But Tanguay drew the Flames within a goal at the 11-minute mark as he clanked a shot in off a goalpost. It was only Calgary’s third shot of the period, while the Canucks had 15 in the period at that point.
But the Flames managed to draw even as Vancouver took three penalties two minutes 17 seconds apart.
During the span, Calgary had a two-man advantage for one minute three seconds but could not score, and then had another one for 41 seconds. Again, the Flames were denied, but Alex Edler continued Vancouver’s penalty string by closing his hand on the puck.
With the Flames enjoying a single man-advantage opportunity, Backlund beat Schneider with a shot low to the stick side, setting the stage for overtime and the shootout.
“I thought we had really good momentum, good control of the game until that time.…Not only did they get chances, but they got momentum off that,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.
He praised Schneider for not allowing Calgary to score more power-play goals, and also for sprawling to stop Tanguay from jamming in the puck during over time.
“He responded the way I expected he would respond—by playing well,” said Vigneault.
Notes: Jordan Schroeder’s parents travelled from their Minnesota home earlier Wednesday to see his first NHL game after he was called up from Chicago of the AHL a day earlier. Although Schroeder was assigned to the Wolves, he never left town. He came down with a case of 24-hour flu in the meantime. … Andrew Ebbett was scratched as Schroeder drew into the Vancouver lineup. Canucks defencemen Cam Barker and Andrew Alberts were scratched for the third straight game. … Calgary centre Jiri Hudler remained out on bereavement leave following the death of his father. Flames defenceman Chris Butler and centre Roman Horak were scratched after playing the first two games of the season.