The Vancouver Canucks rely so heavily on the Sedin twins to generate their offense that it feels good when they can get a win without their biggest stars getting on the score sheet.
Chris Higgins had a goal and an assist, Roberto Luongo made 22 saves and the Canucks got plenty of contributions from their lower lines to snap a nine-game losing streak against the San Jose Sharks with a 4-2 victory on Thursday night.
This marked the first time all season that the Canucks won without a point from Daniel or Henrik Sedin.
”It probably won’t happen too often,” Higgins said. ”Give them a little rest on that. It seems like they carry a lot of the burden. They’re great players. Obviously they want that burden. It’s good that we can get a win without those guys getting points.”
Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli and Zack Kassian also scored for the Canucks, who had lost all five regular season meetings between the teams the past two seasons and were swept by San Jose in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
”It feels good because we just beat a pretty good team on home ice,” said Kevin Bieksa, who had two assists. ”You guys have made us well aware that we’ve lost nine in a row to these guys, so it’s nice to end that little skid and more importantly to get a big two points.”
Joe Thornton and Mike Brown scored for the Sharks, who lost their fourth straight game, but just the second in regulation all season.
Antti Niemi allowed four goals before being replaced early in the second period as the Canucks controlled the play for much of the first 40 minutes and weathered a strong push from San Jose in the third.
”We were clearly outworked,” coach Todd McLellan said. ”In the real world you work for eight hours and in the hockey world you work for 60 minutes. And we didn’t even come close to that. … When you have a bus load that didn’t show up to play it’s pretty hard.”
Vancouver killed an early power play and got a strong save from Luongo on a tip by Logan Couture in the first half of the period to help seal the victory.
Vancouver got the win without any production from the usual suspects.
Henrik Sedin had points in an NHL-best 12 straight games, while brother Daniel had his seven-game point streak snapped. Linemate Ryan Kesler had 10 points in the past nine games before being held without a point.
”That’s a good sign for our club, getting some help and some depth within our team as far as producing,” coach John Tortorella said. ”We’re going to need it as we continue to go on through this trip.”
The Canucks dominated the second period, outshooting the Sharks 17-5 and getting the only goal when Bieksa’s point shot hit Kassian’s skate and went past Niemi to make it 4-2 with 14:38 left in the second.
That ended Niemi’s night after he allowed four goals for the third time in four games.
Alex Stalock came in and stopped all 21 shots he faced but the Sharks were unable to get anything past Luongo the rest of the way and lost.
”It’s been twice we’ve stunk up the joint in the first and second and try to come back in the third,” Thornton said. ”Tonight, we just couldn’t catch up. We have to be better in the first two – it starts there.”
It was a wide-open first period with odd bounces and costly misplays leading to five goals as the Canucks took a 3-2 lead.
The Sharks got the first break when Thornton innocently played the puck around the boards only to have the puck hop back over the net and deflect off Luongo’s shoulder before falling into the net for a goal just 1:17 into the game.
”Quite comical the way the game started,” Luongo said. ”But like we’ve been doing all year we answered right back and we get ourselves right back in the game.”
The Canucks answered quickly when Bieksa took the puck away from Tyler Kennedy along the boards and Richardson capitalized by shooting it past Niemi.
After Santorelli and Brown traded goals on nice plays in transition, another San Jose turnover helped the Canucks take the lead into the second.
Jason Demers and Scott Hannan misplayed a puck in their own zone and Higgins got it and flipped it over to make it 3-2 with 1:05 to play in the first.
NOTES: Vancouver’s Ryan Stanton fought Andrew Desjardins in the first period after the Sharks forward gave Luongo a snow shower after the whistle. … After having at least 50 shots the past two games, the Sharks were held to 11 in the first two periods. … The Canucks have killed off all 14 power play chances by the Sharks this season.