CALGARY – Thanks to a potent offence, the new-look Vancouver Canucks are off to a perfect 2-0 start.
Pavol Demitra’s goal 3:54 into overtime Saturday night gave Vancouver a 5-4 win over Calgary, spoiling the Flames’s home opener. The Canucks outscored Miikka Kiprusoff and the Flames 11-4 in winning both ends of the season-opening home-and-home series between the two Northwest Division rivals.
“It’s a great feeling, a win in this building, and a good start at 2-0. Everybody on this team is having a good time, everyone’s contributing,” said Demitra.
After Mike Cammalleri lost the puck deep in the Canucks end, Vancouver broke out on a three-on-one rush led by puck carrier Alex Burrows. Burrows waited patiently before mishandling the puck but it went right to Demitra at the far post where he was able to tap it into the open net.
“When you go to the net, good things happen. I was a little bit lucky but Burrows made a good play. I think he lost the puck and it came right to my stick and I just put it in the net,” said Demitra.
Daniel Sedin with a pair, Rick Rypien and Ryan Kesler also scored for Vancouver (2-0-0), which came from behind twice in the game.
Cammalleri, Rene Bourque, Todd Bertuzzi and Andre Roy scored for Calgary (0-1-1). All four of the Flames goal scorers were summer acquisitions.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla was held pointless for the second straight night but did get his name on the scoresheet getting in a spirited first period fight with veteran Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell.
“It was typical Vancouver-Calgary game. It was physical, there were a lot of good scraps, it was a good hockey game,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.
“We just stuck to what we needed to do, our guys battled hard. We wanted to win the second, we won the second, we wanted to win the third, we won the third, and we were able to get it done in overtime.”
Trailing 4-3 to begin the third, Sedin’s second of the game pulled the Canucks even at 6:10 one-timing a shot from the slot after getting open behind defenceman Marc Giordano and being set up perfectly from behind the net by brother Henrik Sedin.
“It’s really frustrating, we’re obviously pretty upset,” said Cammalleri. “To be up 3-1 then 4-3, at home like this, it’s a must-win for sure.”
Most concerning for the Flames again Saturday night was costly breakdowns in the defensive end.
“We’re giving up a lot of point blank things, bang-bang plays right in front, we’re not giving Kiprusoff much of a chance,” Iginla said. “We’ve got to tighten that up, we know we do, and we’ll keep working at it.”
Meanwhile, Vancouver is hoping for continued contributions from everyone as it heads out East and a date with the Washington Capitals on Monday, the second of six stops on a tough six-game road trip.
“It helps when four lines are chipping in. As long as everyone can keep it going, that’s the main thing,” said Rypien, who has a goal in each of the first two games. “It shows how much guys want to win and are willing to do whatever. Everyone stepped up in whatever role they were in.”
Calgary broke a 3-3 tie at 14:08 of the second period when Cammalleri and Bourque combined for a goal for the second time on the night. Bourque’s shot was stopped by Roberto Luongo but Cammalleri swiped in the rebound.
Trailing by two, Vancouver roared back to tie the game 3-3 on goals 62 seconds apart in the second period.
Taking advantage of lapse Flames defensive coverage, Rypien found himself alone in the slot and one-timed a centring pass from Ryan Johnson past Kiprusoff.
Kesler then exhibited his trademark determination charging to the net and while sliding into the Flames goal as part of a pile-up of players, managed to get his stick on the puck in the process.
With the game tied 1-1 midway through the first, it was Calgary that struck twice close together getting goals 37 seconds apart from Bertuzzi and Bourque.
Both teams failed to score a power-play goal with Calgary going 0-for-7 and the Canucks finishing up 0-for-6.
The Flames are 0-for-13 through its first two games.
Notes: Vancouver D Kevin Bieksa was shaken up five minutes into the first period after a collision with Wayne Primeau. Bieksa left the ice gingerly and did not return. … Calgary D Robyn Regehr made his season debut after missing the opener due to the birth of his first child. … The Flames also made a line-up change up front inserting rookie Brandon Prust for Dustin Boyd. … Calgary entered the night having lost seven of its last 10 home openers. … Calgary’s six-goal loss on Thursday was its largest margin of defeat since a 7-1 setback to Phoenix on Jan. 23, 2003. … Calgary’s next meeting with Vancouver will also be a home-and-home series beginning Nov. 27 in Vancouver.