Mason Raymond took quick advantage of being moved up to the Canucks top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Mikael Samuelsson didn’t exactly suffer after being dropped.
Raymond had two goals and an assist, Samuelsson had a goal and two assists, and rookie backup Cory Schneider made 32 saves in the Vancouver Canucks’ 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.
”You get a little more on edge when you change up your lines sometimes,” said Samuelsson, who was moved down to the third line after having two assists in four games on the top unit. ”It’s not time to squeeze the stick or anything.”
With seven goals in a disappointing 1-2-1 start to the season, Vancouver shook up its forward lines. It paid off with the first goal of the season for four players, and the first two for Raymond despite several great chances while playing on the second line for the first four games.
”We’ve had some good chances, but to actually get one, it’s the old cliche, the monkey off the back,” said Raymond, who scored on a power play midway through the first period, and converted a cross-crease feed 6:25 into the third. ”We’ve been snake-bitten a bit, but that’s the past.”
Andrew Alberts and Ryan Kesler also scored their first goals of the season to help the Canucks bounce back after losing games in Anaheim and Los Angeles.
”We’re not off to the start we want, but we played our best game tonight,” Raymond said.
Patrick O’Sullivan scored and Cam Ward made 23 saves for the Hurricanes, who opened the season in Finland 10 days earlier with two wins over Minnesota. They since lost in Ottawa and Vancouver, and have games in San Jose, Los Angeles and Phoenix before their home opener Oct. 27.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice and captain Eric Stall both refused to use the long trip as an excuse, but defenseman Joe Corvo thought it was a factor.
”I feel sluggish and we just don’t have that jump right now,” said Corvo, who had an assist but was minus-2. ”A lot of guys might say they feel all right, but to be honest with you, we’ve traveled so many miles and lost so much sleep, it’s something you don’t even know is going on in your body.”
Asked if it was unfair after starting in Europe, Corvo said, ”Yeah.”
”It’s pretty ridiculous,” Corvo said. ”But whatever you got to do to make money.”
Despite the forward shake up, an unlikely defenseman got the scoring spree started just 5:37 in. Playing his first game against Carolina since being traded away for a third-round draft pick last March, Alberts pinched in from the point to pounce on a loose puck during a scramble in the crease, lifting his own rebound over Ward’s right pad for his sixth goal in 344 career NHL games.
Raymond doubled the lead 4 minutes later, and Samuelsson came out of the penalty box to tap in a cross-crease pass midway through the second period. Kesler scored on a power-play one-timer with 5:50 left as the Canucks went 2 for 5 with the man advantage.
Carolina was 0 for 6, including a short 5-on-3.
”We were good on special teams and we have to carry that forward,” Raymond said.
Schneider, in his third professional season but making his first start as the full-time backup behind Roberto Luongo, had his shutout bid snapped on a 2-on-1 with 1:47 left in the second. O’Sullivan used Sutter as a decoy before firing his first goal of the season over Schneider’s glove.
”For me to get a win and some confidence from teammates and the coaching staff is big,” Schneider said after his first win in 22 months. ”Shots were deceiving. A lot of credit goes to the team because a lot of it was from the outside and they only had a handful of real good opportunities.”
NOTES: Canucks D Keith Ballard’s consecutive games streak was snapped at 250 because of a concussion sustained in Los Angeles on Friday night. Ballard, acquired in a five-player trade with Florida this summer, hadn’t missed a game in just over three seasons before Sunday. Aaron Rome took Ballard’s spot on the third pairing. … Carolina will have traveled more than 15,000 miles and through 11 time zones before playing its first home game this season.