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Vancouver Canucks beat Flames 4-3 to damage Calgary's playoff chances

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

CALGARY - If the Calgary Flames manage to get into the playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks showed them what they could be up against.

NHL leading scorer Daniel Sedin had two goals and an assist Saturday as Vancouver overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat Calgary 4-3, delivering a blow to the Flames' post-season hopes.

Tied 3-3 late in the second, Vancouver took the lead for the first time when its No. 1 ranked power play struck for the second time in as many opportunities.

Canucks defenceman Christian Ehrhoff's shot through a crowd caromed sharply off Ryan Kesler in front and went right to Sedin, who buried his second goal of the period.

"Every player has a few buildings where they feel at home and this was a tough building for me for the first four-five years in my career but the last little while, it's been a good building for us," Sedin said after establishing a career-high with his 37th goal of the season. He scored 36 in 2006-07.

The win capped off a perfect 5-0 roadtrip for the Canucks, who appear to have regained their form after alternating wins and losses through most of February. Both Daniel and brother Henrik, who had two assists Saturday, built five-game points streaks during the trip, amassing 19 points between them.

"Before the trip, we were struggling putting pucks in the net so it was nice to be able to score a few goals," Daniel Sedin, who racked up five goals and five assists. Henrik had one goal and eight assists.

Added Canucks coach Alain Vigneault: "You can't count on the same players every night but you need your best to be your best and the twins were real good tonight."

Kesler and Alex Burrows also scored for Vancouver (45-16-9), which also got three assists from Ehrhoff. Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan and David Moss replied for the Flames (36-26-9). Calgary lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Jan. 3 and 5.

The clash between the top two teams in the NHL since Christmas had a playoff feel as the Flames face a desperate battle for a post-season spot in the congested Western Conference.

Calgary remains in the top eight in the West, but just barely. Nashville is ninth, one point back with two games in hand. Two points back but with three games in hand are the 10th-place Anaheim Ducks.

"We weren't good enough defensively and the top line made us pay," Moss said. "This time of year versus a team like that, you can't have that many breakdowns and you have to play a complete game. We tried to turn it on in the third, but it's too little too late."

Vancouver, meanwhile, sits a comfortable 18 points up on the second-place Flames in the Northwest Division and are eight points up on Philadelphia for top spot in the league.

"We went through a little bit of a bump in the road there but we're back on the right track," Kesler said.

Calgary's best opportunity to tie the game in the third came late in the period, but the Flames couldn't capitalize with the man advantage.

On a chance earlier in the period, Jarome Iginla led a 3-on-1 rush but his centring pass caromed off the skate of Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis and slid harmlessly into the corner.

"To be up 2-0 is a great start on a Saturday night against these guys at home, but we know they have a lot of firepower," Iginla said. "They got that important first power play goal to settle it down because we were in control until then."

The Flames led 2-1 after the first period but Daniel Sedin tied it at 9:46 of the second on a Calgary defensive lapse. With the puck in the corner, Sedin skated through the slot uncovered before firing home.

Calgary regained the lead 66 seconds later when Moss jammed a puck past Roberto Luongo from a scramble.

Vancouver tied it again at 15:41 when Burrows scored his 20th deflecting Daniel Sedin's low slapshot.

Calgary entered the night without a goal in the last 111:19 but that drought ended at 2:14 of the first period on a highlight reel effort from Backlund.

The 21-year-old Swede stripped the puck from Mikael Samuelsson and broke in alone on Luongo, zipping a backhand into the top corner to snap a 14-game goalless drought.

With the sellout Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 19,289 still buzzing, the Flames surged in front 2-0 at 3:32 when Stajan knocked a rebound past Luongo for his sixth goal and first in 12 games.

"The first five minutes of the game, we weren't good. But it speaks to our leadership that we didn't panic," Kesler said. "We knew what we had to do, we knew the challenge that we were up against. From there on out, we controlled the tempo and the pace of the game."

Vancouver got on the scoreboard at 8:48 when Kesler snapped a 11-game drought with his 34th of the campaign.

Kiprusoff, who finished with 28 saves, was back in goal for the Flames after getting a night off in Calgary's 3-0 loss in Phoenix on Thursday. That ended a run of 22 consecutive starts.

Notes: Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester played in his 495th consecutive game. The NHL's leading active ironman, Bouwmeester ties Karlis Skrastins for the longest ironman streak for a defenceman. ... The last time Canucks had a 5-0 roadtrip was in January 1992 with wins over Winnipeg, Edmonton, Quebec, Detroit and St. Louis.



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