VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks’ extra work on shootouts this season is starting to pay off.
Jeff Tambellini scored the shootout winner as the Vancouver Canucks came back to beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 before a sellout crowd of 18,860 at Rogers Arena.
Tambellini’s winner came after Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler tied the game in the final minute of regulation.
In past seasons, the Canucks rarely practised shootouts, and often lost in them. But this season, they have drilled them extensively and even gone so far as to video their shootout training sessions.
“We’ve done more work on that than any time prior, so the goaltending part paid off and the shootout part paid off tonight,”said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.
Tambellini was the lone shootout scorer. The decisive goal capped Vancouver’s comeback from a 3-2 second-period deficit.
“I love it, it’s such a great chance to get the puck, and the game on your stick,”said Tambellini of his shootout moment.“I enjoyed having some success so far and, hopefully, it can continue.”
Tambellini beat Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller with a quick shot, then Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo secured the win by stopping Corey Perry on Anaheim’s final attempt. The goaltender has struggled in the shootout, along with the rest of the Canucks.
“(Luongo) has been working real hard with Rollie (Melanson, the Canucks goaltending coach) and our shooters have been working real hard,”said Vigneault.
Luongo’s three saves gave him 113 saves on 163 shootout shots. Vancouver improved to 1-2 in shootouts this season.
“It was a rough game, a rough two shootouts, so, it’s nice to be able to contribute in some way,”said Luongo.“It was a tough game, we stuck with it and I made couple saves in overtime and, obviously, my teammates baled me out with two goals in the third.”
Kesler led the Canucks with two goals while Tambellini and Daniel Sedin also scored in regulation.
Kesler sent the game to overtime with 21.5 seconds left in the third period. He backhanded the puck in off Hiller’s stick from a sharp angle while lying down.
“It was a little lucky but it all comes from hard work from all the guys on the ice,”said Kesler.
But Vigneault singled out Kesler for his role in the the comeback.
“Kes is really going to those hard areas to make things happen,”Vigneault said. “Tonight, in my mind, is a game where we shouldn’t have been behind 4-2. But sometimes those are things that are going to happen and you’ve got to find greasy ways to get back in games, and Kes was certainly leading the way as far as going to those tough areas and giving that second and third effort that you need to give to make it happen.”
The Canucks (15-8-3) posted their fifth win in six games while the Ducks (14-13-4) suffered their third loss in four outings. Perry, Joffrey Lupul, with his first goal in a year, Teemu Selanne and Cam Fowler scored for Anaheim.
The Canucks led 2-1 after the first period but trailed 3-2 after the second.
“We went into the third knowing we wanted to come back, and it was a gritty effort by all the guys on the team,”said Kesler.
Vancouver won for the time this season when trailing after two periods. The Canucks had lost seven times previously in such situations.
“Well, hopefully, it’s a starting point,”said Vigneault.“That’s something that we talked about between the second and third. Last year, we had quite a few of these come-from-behind (wins). This year, we hadn’t had one at this stage. We wanted our guys to battle and they did.”
Vancouver converted two of seven power-play chances while Anaheim scored on two of four.
Vancouver outshot the Ducks 40-20, but Anaheim starting goaltender Curtis McElhinney made several outstanding saves before being forced to leave the game 13 minutes into the third period due to an injury. McElhinney stopped 24 of 27 shots while Hiller blocked 12 of 13.
“It’s the worst thing that can happen to you as a backup, especially in a one-goal game,”said Hiller about the shootout loss.“It was not easy but I thought I had a couple of good saves, but couldn’t find a way to win.’’
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was upset that the officials did not blow a whistle as starting goaltender McElhinney was hurt on Daniel Sedin’s goal at 12:42 of the third, which reduced Anaheim’s lead to 4-3.
Sedin tapped in a Christian Ehrhoff rebound off McElhinney’s mask. The goaltender, who fell and rolled on the ice as Sedin scored, was cut badly and immediately left the game in favour of usual starter Hiller.
“(The referee) said it was too quick,”said Carlyle.“Four sets of eyes out there. There are two linesmen that are supossed to make the call out there and that clearly is cut and dried. But it didn’t go. We still had a chance but they scored with their goaltender out.”
Perry’s first-period goal gave him 300 points for his career. But he did not have much time to celebrate as Kesler and Tambellini scored 11 seconds apart to stake Vancouver to a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.
Notes: Kesler and Tambellini’s quick goals were not the fastest in Canucks history. Greg Adams and Cliff Ronning scored six seconds apart back in 1992 against the New York Islanders…Voros returned to Anaheim’s lineup after missing three games with a severe case of the flu. To make room for him, the Ducks sent winger Matt Beleskey to Syracuse of the AHL earlier Wednesday…Right winger Jonas Andersson played his first game as a Canuck after being called up from Manitoba of the AHL on Tuesday. It was the 29-year-old Stockholm native’s first NHL game since 2001-02 with the Nashville Predators, when he played five games–the total for his NHL career…Andersson took Mikael Samuelsson’s lineup spot. Samuelsson is expected to be out at least a week with a concussion…Perry, 25, is one game shy of 400 for his career.