For Vancouver, an ugly night on the power play left the Canucks trailing 2-1 in the NHL Western Conference semifinal series. The Canucks were a dismal 1-for-8 on the power play and twice failed to score with two-men advantages. Corey Perry notched the winning goal on a third-period power play. His shot from the top of the faceoff circle, with Chris Kunitz screening Roberto Luongo, trickled through the Canuck goaltender’s legs.
“It was a great screen, he couldn’t see anything,” said Perry, who also assisted on Dustin Penner’s first period goal. “I just shot the puck. Thank God it went in.”
The game winner came just 11 seconds after Vancouver’s Alex Burrows was sent off for delay of game after chipping the puck into the crowd.
Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere had to make a big save off Vancouver’s Taylor Pyatt in the game’s dying seconds after Luongo was pulled for an extra attacker.
The best-of-seven series continues with Game 4 at GM Place Tuesday.
The Ducks almost had their wings clipped by taking four penalties in the first period. Anaheim spent 13 minutes of the game killing penalties.
“When you take a penalty every two minutes that’s not the way to start the game,” said Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne. “I don’t think anybody was happy about that. We can do way better.”
Anaheim kept handing Vancouver a loaded gun but the Canucks mostly fired blanks. The Ducks’ penalty kill, ranked the best in the playoffs, broke up passes, cleared pucks and rarely gave up rebounds.
“Obviously the difference was speciality teams,” said Canuck coach Alain Vigneault. “Their’s were better than ours.”
Trevor Linden said not scoring on the 5-on-3s was the Canuck killer, especially in the third period with the game tied 2-2.
“Not capitalizing on those hurts,” said Linden. “That was a critical time in the game and a chance to take a lead. We needed done there.”
Francois Beauchemin also scored on the power play for Anaheim, making the Ducks 2-5 with the man advantage. Chris Pronger had a pair of assists.
Markus Naslund, with a rare Canuck power-play goal, and Daniel Sedin, with his first goal in nine games, scored for Vancouver.
Vigneault said the Anaheim power play worked because the Ducks were willing to sacrifice themselves in front of the net.
“We have to have that willingness to go in those tough areas, stay there and hack and whack at the rebound, which we didn’t do tonight,” he said.
A massive brain cramp from the usually steady Luongo resulted in the Ducks taking a 1-0 lead with the game just over three minutes old.
The Canuck goaltender fired a puck into the corner right onto the stick of a surprised Perry. He slide the puck back to Penner in the slot who easily beat Luongo as he tried to scramble back into position. It was the Ducks’ first shot on goal.
“It was a tough goal to give up right off the bat,” said Luongo, who made 21 stops. “I’ll have to take the blame for that one.”
The Ducks looked like they were skating in sand in the first period. They were outshot 13-2 and needed some key saves from Giguere to stay in the game.
The bigger, faster Ducks finally found their legs in the second. They created a lot of traffic in front of Luongo and outshot Vancouver 22-13 over the last two periods.
“As a goalie you have to be ready for what they throw at you,” said Giguere, who made 24 saves. “When you finally get the momentum you try and keep it as long as you can.”
Perry said the Ducks can’t keep taking penalties.
“We had to weather the storm with penalty kills,” he said. “We took too many tonight.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box. We have to stay sharp when they come that hard.”
The revolving door at the Canucks blue-line continued. Sami Salo returned to the lineup after missing the first two games with an injury but Rory Fitzpatrick was a scratch.
Brad May, a former Canuck, returned to the Anaheim lineup after serving a three-game suspension for the sucker punch he threw at Minnesota’s Kim Johnnson in the first round of the playoffs.
Notes: – The Canucks called up defenceman Yannick Tremblay from the AHL Manitoba Moose. Tremblay played 12 games with Vancouver this year, recording one goal and two assists. ….Vancouver’s Trevor Linden has played 1,326 career games without winning the Stanley Cup, the longest of any active player. …Each Canuck forward had at least 22 shifts and more than 13 minutes of ice team in Game 2 while the Ducks stuck with just three lines. …During the regular season Luongo had a record of 9-2-1 after games where he allowed four or more goals.