VANCOUVER, B.C. – Henrik Sedin moved closer to a milestone and helped the Vancouver Canucks get back on the winning track Wednesday night.
Sedin had three assists and Vancouver backup Andrew Raycroft made 30 saves as the Canucks beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-1.
With eight games remaining, the Northwest-Division leading Canucks maintained a five-point lead in their race to secure home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
“It’s a lot of fun when things are working out,” said Sedin, who moved into the NHL’s scoring lead with 99 points.
Sedin said it would be nice to get 100 points, because not many Swedes have reached that milestone, but he was thinking more about the importance of the victory.
He set up goals by Christian Ehrhoff, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows, while Ryan Kesler added an empty-netter in the third as the Canucks (45-25-4) made up for an embarrassing loss in Edmonton a night earlier.
“It was huge for us,” said Henrik Sedin about delivering a stronger effort after the loss to the Oilers. “We played a decent game (Tuesday) but we couldn’t score.”
Daniel Sedin also had a three-point night as he added a pair of assists.
“We’re feeling better out there,” said Henrik Sedin. “Tonight we could have scored a few more, but when we’re on our game and feel good we don’t give up a whole lot defensively and we’re creating a lot of chances form turnovers and reading off each other.”
Saku Koivu was Anaheim’s lone scorer as the Ducks (34-31-8) saw their already slim chance of making the playoffs fade even further with their eighth loss in the past 12 road games.
“Our room for error now is minimal, so it’s frustrating when we don’t get points and we need them,” said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer.
Anaheim dropped 11 points back of Detroit, who won Wednesday in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Raycroft started in place of struggling No. 1 Roberto Luongo as the Ducks outshot Vancouver 31-30.
Luongo, the Canucks captain still searching for his swagger since backstopping Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal, received an unwanted night off after allowing two goals on the first four shots he faced Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Oilers.
“We needed the guys to do a great job, and that did that tonight,” said Raycroft. “They kept it very simple for me.”
Vancouver’s No. 2 netminder atoned for a poor performance on Oct. 30 when Luongo was sidelined with a rib injury. That night, Raycroft allowed four goals on 22 shots before minor-league callup Cory Schneider replaced him.
“(Raycroft) needed to step up and make a lot of saves, and he did that tonight,” said Henrik Sedin. “It was the second game of a back to back, where it’s tough to win. But tonight we need this win and he stepped up for us.”
Raycroft received a rousing cheer as he made his first save of the game on Corey Perry and then smothered the puck.
Ehrhoff opened the scoring 8:31 into the game as he blasted a slap shot from the blue-line over Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller’s shoulder during a power play.
Daniel Sedin put the Canucks ahead 2-0 about eight minutes later as he lofted a backhand over Burrows while tangled up with Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer in front of Hiller.
“I don’t think he tried to go top shelf, but I think he just tried to put it up and see what happens … He had a little luck – for sure,” said Henrik Sedin.
“It just seemed like in the second period we just tried to do more than we were capable of in terms of one on one,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “I thought the third period we showed a lot of spunk going after them from a standpoint that we’re going to have to play a more physical game.”
Burrows gave the Canucks a 3-0 lead on a gift goal at 6:19 of the middle frame. Ducks defenceman Brett Festerling lost control of the puck behind the net and Daniel Sedin sent it out to Henrik who fed Burrows as he faced a wide open net.
Koivu spoiled Raycroft’s shutout bid at 8:04 of the third, beating him with a wrist shot through the legs. The goal came shortly after the Canucks goaltender gloved Matt Beleskey’s hard wrister and fans chanted “Ray-croft! Ray-croft!”
“It was pretty cool,” said Raycroft of the chanting. “I had to compose myself a little bit. I think that’s why that goal went in. I was a little rattled by it. (But) it was pretty cool. It was greatly appreciated.”
Anaheim’s away record dropped to 11-20-5. The Ducks will need a hot streak or some help from other teams, because five of their remaining nine games are on the road.
“We’ll keep battling while we still have a chance, but it’s really frustrating,” said Teemu Selanne, who confirmed after the game that he plans to retire at the end of the season . “It’s a really tough go.”
NOTES: With Luongo on the bench, the Canucks did not include him in a pre-game video tribute to Canadian Olympics that they have aired since the Games ended. …As he contemplates retirement, Niedermayer is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96 with New Jersey. …Anaheim defenceman Brendan Mikkelson was scratched after being called up Tuesday from Toronto of the AHL. Mikkelson played junior with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. …Vancouver winger Mikael Samuelsson has missed three games with a shoulder injury. …The Canucks have six 20-goal scorers for the first time since 1993. Daniel Sedin reached the mark Saturday against Detroit. …Vancouver signed prospect Prab Rai, 20, their fifth-round draft choice in the 2008 NHL draft. The Surrey, B.C., native recently completed his junior eligibility with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. …Anaheim defenceman James Wisniewski sat out the fourth of an eight-game suspension.