VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Sedins were simply superb.
Daniel Sedin scored three goals while his brother Henrik collected four assists to take over the NHL scoring lead as the Vancouver Canucks ended their regular season with a 7-3 dousing of the Calgary Flames. The Swedish twins dazzled and defied logic. Between them they earned eight points and helped the Canucks halt a two-game losing streak.
Henrik started the night trailing Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals by one point. He ended it with a three-point lead and made a good argument to be named the league’s most valuable player.
“It felt like one of those nights where things were going to open up,” said Henrik, who assisted on all three of his brother’s goals. “We had a lot of chances to put a few more away.
“We are really proud of what we have done.”
Maybe the Canuck most proud of Henrik was Daniel.
“Everyone on this team has been a great help for him,” said Daniel, who also had an assist for a four-point night. “It’s been great.
“We hadn’t played great lately so we wanted to have a strong game today. We had a good start and got it going. We will see if it’s enough, but at least he’s done his best.”
Daniel electrified the crowd with his third goal. He took a pass from Henrik, then threaded the puck back, between his legs, before firing a shot that beat Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
That chased Kiprusoff out of the game and brought hats floating from the stands.
“It was pretty much the only thing I had left,” shrugged Daniel, who scored goals 20 second apart. “I knew he was going to poke-check me.
“I could have probably walked around him, but that’s what happens.”
Henrik Sedin has 112 points from 29 goals and 83 assists. The pressure is now on Ovechkin, who heads into the final game of the season with 109 points from 50 goals and 59 assists.
“I can’t do anything about it,” said Henrik, who logged a season-high 25 minutes, 24 seconds of ice time. “I’m still going to look back and be proud of what the team has done and what our line has done.
“I’ve done what I’ve had to. He’s one of those players that can pop five points on any given night. We’ll see.”
The sold-out crowd of 18,810 chanted “MVP, MVP” as Henrik broke the Canuck franchise record of 110 points in a season set by Pavel Bure in 1992-93.
The reserved Henrik was uncomfortable with the adulation.
“I’m not someone that is going to stand up there and have the attention,” he shrugged. “It was great to hear.”
Daniel Sedin ended the season with a career-high 85 points from 29 goals and 56 assists, despite missing 18 games with a broken foot.
Calgary’s Craig Conroy said the Flames talked about how dangerous Henrik could be before the game.
“He was going for the scoring title,” Conroy said. “We wanted to shut him down. He’s feasted on us all year and they did again tonight.
“That line is as good as any line. These guys have put themselves head and shoulders above most lines in the league.”
Calgary coach Brent Sutter knew he was in for a long night when the Canucks scored three goals on their first four shots of the opening period.
“We didn’t compete hard enough against them, so it allows skilled players like that to basically do what they want on the ice,” Sutter said.
Niklas Hagman, with a pair, and Rene Bourque also scored for the Flames, who are heading to the golf course after missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
The Canucks got goals from a couple of unexpected players.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who had not scored since the opening game of the season against Calgary, had two goals. Hardnosed Rick Rypien picked up his fourth of the season while Ryan Kesler scored his 25th.
Calgary finished the season with a 40-32-10 record for 90 points. Questions are already swirling about changes in the front office and possibly in the dressing room.
“The first 12 to 15 minutes of the game it was like we didn’t have the puck,” said Sutter.
“It’s disappointing. You didn’t want to finish this way and certainly you wanted a better effort and a more compete level. I expected a little bit more for the front of that jersey.”
Vancouver has wrapped up the Northwest Division title for the third time in four seasons. The Canucks’ record of 49-28-5 leaves them with 103 points and the third seed in Western Conference.
The Canucks won’t know until Sunday whether they face Detroit, Los Angeles or Nashville in the first round of the playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Canuck captain Roberto Luongo.
“Any team we face is going to be a tough series either way.”
It was a roller-coaster season for the Canucks, who endured a six-week, 14-game road trip wrapped around February’s Olympics.
Despite recording a 100-plus season for the fifth time in franchise history, the team has struggled lately, losing five of their last 10 games. During the stretch the Canucks gave up three or more goals eight times.
The Canucks have six players with 20 or more goals. Alexandre Burrows leads the team with 35 while Mikael Samuelsson notched 30.
Defenceman Christian Ehrhoff returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore knee. The Canuck blue-line remains a revolving door with Sami Salo, Shane O’Brien and Aaron Rome all out with injuries.
Veteran Willie Mitchell has been sidelined since January with a concussion.
Prior to the game the Canucks handed out their team awards. Henrik Sedin was named the team’s most valuable player, plus received the award for top scorer and the most Molson Cup selections.
Ehrhoff was selected the top defenceman, Burrows the most exciting player and Raymond the unsung hero.
Burrows said Henrik Sedin deserves to be the league MVP.
“He deserves it,” said Burrows. “People all over North America are going to realize that he’s as good as Ovechkin or (Sidney) Crosby, but in a different kind of way.”
Notes: The Harlem Globetrotters are booked into GM Place on Saturday, meaning the Canucks will be unable to play that night. …Rypien’s goal was his first in 33 games. …No Canuck has won the NHL scoring title.