VANCOUVER – Kellan Lain took all of two seconds to get his name in the record book.
The Vancouver Canucks’ rookie was ejected after Saturday night’s now infamous first-period line brawl against the Calgary Flames, giving him the honour of the fastest fight to start an NHL career.
The 24-year-old followed that brief debut with a goal on his second shift in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Despite seeing under six minutes of total ice time, Lain has already made quite a mark with the injury riddled Canucks.
“Those two games, there are two big things that happened that usually you might not think will happen that quickly,” Lain said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s a bit surreal.
“I’m just trying to take it all in. I don’t know how long I’ll be here for so I’m just trying to work hard and learn from the guys who have been here a long time.”
Canucks head coach John Tortorella—who was suspended 15 days by the NHL for trying to get into the Flames locker-room after Saturday’s 10-man dust up—said his biggest regret was having to put Lain on the ice in that situation with parents in attendance at Rogers Arena.
“When you see those two lines lined up it’s kind of obvious that something’s going to happen but you never (think) it’s going to be a five-man brawl,” said Lain. “(My parents) were happy for me to be able to throw on the Canucks jersey even though it was two seconds.”
Lain, who played three seasons at Lake Superior State prior to signing with the Canucks last March, had 11 points and a team-leading 84 penalty minutes in 35 games with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League this season before getting called up by Vancouver on Jan. 15.
Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who was also among the eight players tossed from Saturday’s game, said the six-foot-six 210-pound Lain more than held his own against Flames tough guy Kevin Westgarth.
“I don’t think he really regrets how everything went down,” said Bieksa. “He’s an Ontario boy so I think in the end that kind of brawl is fun in some aspect. Obviously he probably would like to play a little after the line brawl with his family here, but it’s a pretty memorable first shift.”
Canucks assistant coach Mike Sullivan, who is running the bench in Tortorella’s absence, said the team got a lift from Lain’s goal 5:14 into the first period on Tuesday in Edmonton.
“We were all thrilled for him. Any time a young player like that comes up—and that was really his first opportunity to participate in an NHL game—to score a goal like that is a great thrill,” said Sullivan. “I think given the circumstances of what went on the last couple of days, our players were really excited for him.”
Lain’s family was not in attendance Tuesday—he said they had to get back for work—but instead watched his first goal on television back in Oakville, Ont.
“It was really exciting for me and my family,” he said. “You work your whole life to get to this point and to be able to score a goal like that is pretty cool.”
Vancouver is hurting up front right now with captain Henrik Sedin and fellow forward Mike Santorelli both nursing injuries. The Canucks have managed to go 3-3-0 in their last six games, but have scored just seven times over that span heading into Thursday night’s matchup at Rogers Arena against the Nashville Predators.
“Every team through an 82-game season goes through injuries,” said Canucks forward Zack Kassian, who scored the winner on Tuesday. “It’s the good teams that come out of it. Everyone has to step up their game and everyone has to give a little bit more.
“Good teams find a way to win when players go down with injuries.”
The Canucks continue to hold down the first wild card spot in the Western Conference but need more from stars like Daniel Sedin, who has gone 10 games without a goal and has scored just 13 times this season.
“I’ve had the chances. I can only blame myself for missing those chances,” he said. “I’ve had breakaways and empty nets. It’s more executing that anything.
“As long as you’re getting chances I don’t think you can panic too much.”
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who has played the last two games after missing nine of the previous ten with groin and ankle injuries, said that Vancouver will have to continue winning tight games down the stretch.
“That’s just the way the game’s played in the NHL—a lot of 2-1 games, 1-0, 3-2 … that’s just the way the game is played nowadays,” said Luongo. “There’s not a lot of teams that can score four or five goals on a regular basis. So we have to learn how to win those games.”
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