Morrison’s goal, his 19th of the season, helped compensate for a Canuck power play that coughed and wheezed all night like an old car on its last legs.
Vancouver finished 0-9 with the man-advantage, although Bryan Smolinski’s first-period goal came just as a penalized Red Wing was stepping back on the ice. At one point in the second captain Markus Naslund was taken off the power play.
Grinding forward Matt Cooke set up Morrison’s goal. With Jeff Cowan off for goaltender interference, Cooke stole the puck near centre ice. He broke in on goal, then slid a backhand pass to Morrison, who beat Dominik Hasek with a shot to the stick side.
Defenceman Lukas Krajicek scored the winning goal and added an assist. Trevor Linden, into an empty net, also scored for the Canucks (43-23-6).
Vancouver remains first in the Northwest Division, one point ahead of Minnesota, which beat Calgary 4-2.
Pavel Datsyuk scored on the power play for Detroit (45-18-9). The Red Wings’ loss, combined with Nashville’s 3-2 win over Dallas, moved the Predators into first place in the Central Division and first overall in the Western Conference with 100 points.
Vancouver outshot Detroit 39-33. The Red Wings were guilty of taking several undisciplined penalties, but the Canucks weren’t able to put the game away.
Todd Bertuzzi, who was dealt to Detroit from Florida at the trade deadline, didn’t make the trip. It’s the second time this season the former Canuck, who is recovering from back surgery, missed a chance to play against his old team.
Datsyuk opened the scoring with Detroit on a two-man advantage at 6:05 of the first. Parked at the side of the net, he registered his 22nd goal of the season when he one-timed a Mathieu Schneider pass past Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo.
The Vancouver power-play looked awful in the first, going 0-5.
Smolinski finally gave the sellout crowd of 18,630 something to cheer about when he got the Canucks on the board at 11:41, scoring on a wrap-around. The goal came just one second after defenceman Nicklas Lindstrom returned to the ice following a tripping call.
Twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin did all the work setting up Vancouver’s second goal. They buzzed around the Red Wing net, moving the puck like it was on a string.
Daniel finally forced Hasek to make a diving save on a wrap-around play. The rebound came out front and Krajicek was able to shoot it over the sprawled goalie.
Detroit’s Kyle Calder had a chance to score on the power-play in the third but couldn’t put the puck in an empty net.
NOTES: Defenceman Willie Mitchell missed his second consecutive game with a groin injury . . . Defenceman Sami Salo left the game in the second period with a lower body injury . . . There were chants of “Gordie, Gordie” when Gordie Howe, who was attending the game, was introduced to the crowd . . . The Canucks franchise record for wins in a year is 46 set in 1992-’93.