VANCOUVER – Jason Blake might not have much feeling in his left hand but he hasn’t lost his touch around the net.
The diminutive left-winger scored twice and helped set up the first goal Sunday as the suddenly surging Anaheim Ducks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.
The goals were the second and third in two games for the 38-year-old Blake whose season seemed in doubt after a severe skate cut threatened his career.
There’s an ugly scar on his left forearm, just back of the wrist, a result of an accidental collision with Brent Burns of San Jose in October.
Blake returned Jan. 4 after missing 34 games.
“A lot of people said it could have been worse,” he said, pointing to the artery behind the palm of his hand.
“I looked at it and I’m like, I don’t know if it could be worse. I can’t feel any of this (the back of his hand and index finger), still to this day.”
Blake scored what proved to be the winning goal on a second-period breakaway when Canuck defenceman Aaron Rome couldn’t handle a pass at the Anaheim blue-line.
He then provided a 4-1 lead with a third-period power-play tip-in.
“I knew if I just stayed patient and did my rehab and my therapy … I’m just starting, hopefully to turn that corner,” said Blake who scored his first goal of the season Friday in a 5-0 win in Edmonton.
“My nerves were so damaged they had to put in a tube or something.”
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said Blake and his experience were missed by a team that has won five of its last six games with the only loss coming in overtime.
“He took a step down to the third line,” Getzlaf said of the undrafted former Toronto Maple Leaf who had 10 of his club’s 34 shots on Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo.
“He could have come back and pouted but the way things are going everybody’s buying in and everybody’s doing the right thing.”
The Ducks (15-22-7) have eight wins and three regulation ties in 20 games under new coach Bruce Boudreau who replaced the fired Randy Carlyle.
The Canucks (28-15-3) missed a chance to regain the NHL’s overall lead.
They have 59 points, one behind the New York Rangers and Western Conference-leading Chicago after their first loss since taking six of a possible eight points on a road trip.
Canuck coach Alain Vigneault said his club didn’t get a scoring chance at even strength in the first period.
“Defensively I stopped counting the turnovers after a while,” Vigneault said.
“I think it was pretty evident to anybody watching the game or at the game that it didn’t seem like we had a lot of jump and energy tonight.”
The Ducks, who are playing their best hockey of the season, took an early lead on Nick Bonino’s third goal since being called up from the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch a month ago.
He eventually buried a rebound after Luongo made a glove save off Blake but couldn’t corral the puck.
“It’s not a usual place to get a rebound, top glove, but it just fell there and I whacked it once,” said Bonino, whose right shoulder was wrapped in ice after the game.
“I didn’t realize he saved it so I just kind of tried to stick with it.”
Bonino was impressed by Blake’s effort after the injury.
“It’s amazing,” Bonino said. “With the year he’s had, how he got hurt and he came back … I guess plan right now is to get him the puck and it’s going to go in the net.”
Boudreau noted Blake is in the last year of his contract.
“At the age he is you probably start to wonder what’s going on,” Boudreau said.
“Every game he’s played a little more, every game he’s played a little better and he’s gotten his legs.”
Bobby Ryan got the other Anaheim goal.
Cody Hodgson, on a power play, and Mason Raymond scored for the listless Canucks who mustered little offence after three wins on the trip that began with an emotional victory in Boston.
“I looked up (at the scoreboard) in the second period with five minutes to go and I said ‘holy crap, they only have five shots on goal?'” Boudreau said. “This is unheard of for the Canucks.”
Luongo, who had to make several saves on his doorstep just to keep the game close, said his club has to be ready to play even if it’s tired from a road trip.
“If we are (tired) we (have to) put on a snoozefest and we play a boring game or whatever it takes, but obviously we weren’t good enough tonight as a team,” he said.
Notes: Vancouver forward Jannick Hansen got Gene Simmons to autograph a stick during the pre-game warmup. He then exchanged fist bumps with the Kiss rocker. … David Booth returned to the Canuck lineup after missing 18 games with a sprained knee. … Vancouver defenceman Sami Salo missed a fourth game with concussion symptoms after a low hit along the boards Jan. 7 in Boston by Brad Marchand. … It was the first of four Canuck home games in a 10-day stretch leading to the all-star break. … The Ducks had outscored opponents 21-9 over their previous five games which included a 1-0 overtime loss in Calgary.