VANCOUVER, B.C. – Henrik Sedin missed a chance for his first career hat trick after eight NHL seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, but he was satisfied and relieved just to help his team get a win.
Sedin had two goals and two assists Wednesday night as the Canucks ended an early-season slump by downing the Montreal Canadiens 7-1.
“I was just looking for the win,” said Sedin, who has three goals in his last two games. “We needed it badly. It’s only four games into the season but it’s a big game for us.”
Sedin usually plays set-up man to his twin brother Daniel, but Wednesday their roles were reversed. Daniel Sedin was scoreless but had three assists.
Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo played his strongest game so far, stopping 27 shots as the defending Northwest Division champions ended their worst start to a season in eight years.
Montreal was the perfect opponent to start a turnaround. The Canadiens lost their eighth straight game in Vancouver dating back to Nov. 30, 2000.
The seven goals were one more than the Canucks scored in the previous three losses, where they averaged 40 shots a game.
“We didn’t get rewarded like we wanted to but it’s nice to get the bounces,” Henrik Sedin said of the first three games. “This is what happens when you put a lot of pucks on net.
“We’ve been waiting for this. It seems easy when pucks are going in but this is the way we had been playing in the first three games.”
Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and Steve Bernier staked the Canucks to a 3-0 first-period lead, all with their first goals of the season.
Sedin scored twice in a span of three minutes 37 seconds in the second period while Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Burrows completed the attack in the third.
The Canucks converted three of five power-play chances and outshot Montreal 35-28.
“There were a lot of grumpy people in here after the first three games,” said Kesler, who started the scoring.
He took Alex Edler’s pass through the neutral zone, split the defence and faked goalie Carey Price twice before tucking the puck in the net.
“I think we’re all winners in here,” Kesler said. “We hate losing and it’s finally good to get that win. It was a long three games.”
Andrei Kostitsyn scored with the man advantage for the Canadiens, whose record was evened at 2-2 after the Habs began the season with a pair of overtime wins.
But they couldn’t get any more pucks behind Luongo, the all-star who entered the game with a bloated 4.55 goals-against average and an .820 save percentage.
“We spoke before the game … just going out there, just having fun playing our game and not worry about our record,” said Luongo, who made toe and glove saves on Mike Cammalleri on the same power-play shift.
Cammalleri said the Canadiens failed to match Vancouver’s work ethic.
“If we lose a game because of mistakes, that’s one thing but if we lose a game on effort like we did tonight, that’s not acceptable for us,” he said.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said his players didn’t fold under the pressure of a poor start to their season.
“The guys kept their heads where it needed to be which was on the process on the ice,” Vigneault said.
It was not a memorable night for Price as the Anahim Lake native made his first start in his home province after not playing in the Canadiens’ visit here last year.
Backup Jaroslav Halak played the final eight minutes after Price yielded Vancouver’s seventh goal.
“I just battled as hard as I could and sometimes they find the back of the net,” Price said. “It’s pretty disappointing not to play (last season) but this is even more disappointing.”
Forward Brian Gionta said the Canadiens tested the Canucks when they got the first 14 shots of the second period and counted on the power play.
“But we lost too many battles, we made too many mistakes and we took too many penalties,” Gionta said.
“At least two of the three (power-play goals) were real quick so we’ve got to figure out what we’re doing wrong. They’re finding the seams and they’re scoring on them.
“We gave (Price) no support back there. He played well again, we just gave too many second, third, fourth opportunities in front of the net.”
Canuck forward Rick Rypien, whose father is a former Golden Gloves boxing champ, gave up eight inches and 71 pounds to towering six-foot-seven Hal Gill but held his own in a third-period bout.
NOTES: Montreal native Wally Buono, who recently set the CFL coaching record of 232 wins with the B.C. Lions, handled the ceremonial face-off … Jacques Martin’s fourth game behind the Montreal bench left him one game shy of 1,102 which would tie Billy Reay for ninth in all-time games coached … Tanner Glass made his Vancouver debut on the third line and saw 12 minutes 11 seconds of ice time … Russian rookie Sergei Shirokov sat out after going minus-4 in his first three games … Montreal ends its five-game season-opening road trip Saturday in Edmonton.