VANCOUVER – In his first game since being put on waivers by the Vancouver Canucks, Nathan McIver made his old team pay.
The defensive defenceman’s breakaway goal 22 seconds into overtime gave the Anaheim Duciks a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL pre-season finale for both teams Sunday night.
“I came out of the (penalty) box and I saw Samuel Pahlsson with the puck and just took off,” said McIver. “He made a great pass on my tape and going in on Louie.”
The goal had some historical significance as McIver prevented the Canucks (6-0-1) from going undefeated in the pre-season for the first time in their history. Anaheim finished the exhibition campaign with a 6-1-1 mark.
Ironically, McIver has yet to score a goal in 18 NHL regular-season games – all with the Canucks.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he confessed. “But I saw (Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo) going down a bit and tried to get it over his shoulder.”
McIver suited up for the Ducks after being claimed off waivers from the Canucks on Saturday. Vancouver wanted to send him to its Manitoba farm team, but under terms of the NHL collective bargaining agreement was required to put him on waivers first. The Ducks, who are managed by former Canuck general managers Brian Burke and Dave Nonis, quickly picked him up.
“It’s just been a crazy 48 hours,” said McIver. “This is a great opportunity.”
Until now, McIver, a 23-year-old Summerside, P.E.I., native, has generated most of his opportunities NHL through his physical play and fighting ability. The rearguard, who spent most of his three seasons in the Canucks organization with Manitoba, has scored only five goals in regular-season action as a pro – all in the AHL.
Ducks centre Brendan Morrison, who left the Canucks and signed with Anaheim as a free agent in the summer, couldn’t believe his eyes as McIver scored the winner after serving a holding penalty that carried over from 18:13 of the third period.
“It wasn’t a cheap goal at all,” said Morrison. “He put on a heck of a move on Luongo and buried it. He looked like a goal scorer there.”
Morrison never saw McIver score a goal like that while the Canucks were practicing the shootout.
“The guys asked me: What kind of player is he?” said Morrison. “I said he’s a good, stay-at-home D-man, strong guy and not very offensive at all and he comes and pulls that out. He made me a liar.”
Morrison also scored a goal in his first game back at General Motors Place. Unlike McIver, he knew he would be playing against the Canucks before the weekend began – but the veteran centre still felt strange.
“It was a really weird feeling tonight, walking by the locker-room there,” said Morrison. “I haven’t done that for eight years (while with the New Jersey Devils).”
Morrison opened the scoring on a power play midway through the first period. He poked in the puck as it was bouncing in Luongo’s crease. But he did not view his 16:39 minutes of ice time as memorable.
“I just felt like I wasn’t really there mentally,” said Morrison. “But I’m glad it’s over. It wasn’t a huge deal. A lot of guys have to go through it. But it was definitely different.”
Travis Moen and Corey Perry also scored for Anaheim.
Mason Raymond led Vancouver with two goals while Henrik Sedin also scored. All three Vancouver goals came on the power play as the Canucks went 3-for-8 with the man advantage. Anaheim’s power play was 1-for-7.
Raymond created a 3-3 deadlock with a beautiful power player tally at 11:50 of the second period. He circled around the Anaheim zone and then sidestepped Moen, who had lost his stick, and roofed a backhand over goaltender J.S. Giguere.
Shortly afterwards, a series of skirmishes sent the Canucks into penalty-killing mode. Vancouver was shorthanded for three minutes and 25 seconds. For two minutes and 26 seconds of that stretch, the Canucks were two-men down, but they did not allow a goal, leaving the score tied after 40 minutes and a scoreless third period.
“Our power play has to get better, our penalty killing has to get better,” said Morrison. “The power play was no good tonight and the penalty killing wasn’t good, but we found a way to get a win. Ultimately, that’s what matters.” The Canucks begin their regular season at home against Calgary on Thursday while the Ducks launch their campaign in San Jose the same night.
NOTES-Vancouver captain Luongo, forbidden by NHL rules from wearing the letter on his jersey because he is a goaltender, sported a new C on his mask, but said after the game the letter stands for “Canucks” . . . Vancouver signed top 2008 draft choice Cody Hodgson to an NHL entry-level contract earlier Sunday. Hodgson, 18, chosen 10th overall, counted one assist and six penalty minutes in three pre-season games with the Canucks. The 18-year-old centre from Haliburton, Ont., is trying to become the first top draft pick to stick with the Canucks since Petr Nedved in 1990.