VANCOUVER – The good times kept rolling for Max Lapierre on Tuesday night.
Lapierre, a checker converted into a scorer, had the tying goal and later the shootout winner to give the Vancouver Canucks a comeback 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” said Lapierre of his shootout opportunity. “But I had to go there and try to do a job. I tried to go glove side and got lucky on that one.”
The Western Conference-leading Canucks (50-21-9) posted their seventh straight win and moved three points ahead of the idle St. Louis Blues. Vancouver also retained a share of first place overall in the NHL with the New York Rangers. Both clubs have 109 points.
Lapierre now has three official goals and the shootout marker in three games since being moved up to Vancouver’s top line in place of injured star Daniel Sedin, who missed his seventh straight game with a concussion.
Linemate Alex Burrows led Vancouver with two goals and a shootout marker. Chris Higgins had the other goal, while Henrik Sedin, the other member of the top line, and defenceman Dan Hamhuis both had two assists as the Canucks rallied from a 4-2 second-period deficit.
“It was entertaining,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “It had, obviously, its moments, both offensively and defensively. I thought we made some real good plays offensively. I thought we made some uncharacteristic mistakes defensively from a couple our guys that ended up in the back of our net.”
Ryan Getzlaf, Cory Perry, Rod Pelly and Devante Smith-Pelley replied for the Ducks (33-35-12).
The Canucks outshot the Ducks 39-34. Vancouver was blanked on five power-play chances while Anaheim converted one of three.
“We had a chance to win until the shootout,” said Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller after angrily tossing his pads into a duffle bag in a sombre Ducks dressing room. “Their moves were better than ours went.”
The score was tied 2-2 after the first period and 4-4 after the second. Vancouver winger David Booth got a chance to break out of his scoring slump as he was awarded a penalty shot 3:38 into the game after being tripped on a breakaway by Ducks defenceman Luca Sbisa.
Unfortunately for Booth, Hiller got a pad on his forehand attempt.
The game remained scoreless for the first 13 minutes, but the clubs then produced four goals in about five minutes.
Pelly gave the Ducks a 3-2 advantage 2:24 into the second period as he one-timed a Bobby Ryan pass. Ryan was the set-up man again at 7:03 as Smith-Pelley, left all alone in front, one-timed his pass from the corner through Luongo’s legs.
After the goal, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault tried to spark his club by replacing Luongo with Cory Schneider, who drew a loud cheer as he skated into the crease.
Schneider stopped all nine shots he faced, but the backup was reluctant to take credit for the win that went on his record. He dismissed the idea that the Canucks play differently in front of him.
“The score indicated the way we played,” he said. “When it’s 4-2 you have to start pressing and play better. There’s nothing Lou can do when guys are sitting alone untouched in front of the net like that. It was more the circumstance than who was in net.”
Schneider also took exception to the way fans responded when he entered the game and Luongo left.
“It’s getting old,” said Schneider. “I’m glad they like me and support me, but he’s a guy that has done a lot for this team and this city—and he deserves a lot better than that.”
But Luongo was not impressed with his own effort after surrendering four goals on 15 shots. He refused to use the blatant defensive breakdowns as an excuse.
“I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t play up to my expectations—and I don’t have a reason for it,” he said.
Burrows started the comeback with his second goal of the game after he briefly left following a collision with Smith-Pelley, who inadvertently backed into the Canucks player’s legs without either player seeing each other. He swept in a Hamhuis rebound for his second goal of the game, reducing Vancouver’s deficit to 4-3.
Lapierre forged a 4-4 tie at 18:33 of the second as he whacked the puck near the Anaheim blue-line and the puck went in off Duck winger Sheldon Brookbank’s glove as he tried to block the shot.
“It was a good screen from Mason (Raymond) and a lucky bounce,” said Lapierre. “We’ll take them.”
The Canucks outshot the Ducks 12-1 in the period and had three power plays while the Ducks had none. But Vancouver could still not beat Hiller.
The Canucks close out their regular with a road game Thursday in Calgary and a home game Saturday against Edmonton. The Ducks’ final games of 2011-12 are in Edmonton on Thursday and in Calgary on Saturday.
Notes: Vancouver lost winger Zack Kassian to an undisclosed upper-body injury late in the second period. … Booth was benched for the second straight game after he lost a battle for the puck with Ryan before Pelly’s goal. But Booth returned in the third as a result of Kassian’s injury. … Injured Canucks winger Daniel Sedin (concussion) missed his seventh straight game. … Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa missed his fourth straight game with an undisclosed health issue, but he took part in the morning skate. Defenceman Aaron Rome also remained out with a knee injury… Ducks winger Teemu Selanne, 41, is the second-oldest player in NHL history behind Gordie Howe to record 26 goals in a single season. … Anaheim goaltender Dan Ellis (groin) and defencemen Tony Lydman (upper) and Nate Guerin (fractured orbital bone) were sidelined with injuries.