Canucks 3, Flames 2, OT

Andrew Ebbett had quite a return to the Vancouver Canucks.

Playing his first game after missing 35 with a shattered

collarbone, Ebbett scored at 3:58 of overtime and the Vancouver

Canucks took over the top spot of the Western Conference with a 3-2

win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

After the goal, the Canucks bench erupted and rushed to

congratulate their teammate.

”My face is a little red, almost like a burn on there from all

the guys,” Ebbett said with a laugh. ”It was well worth it after

a three-month comeback there.”

The Canucks earned their sixth straight win – all without

injured scoring star Daniel Sedin (concussion) – and moved into

first place in the Western Conference.

They also gained a share of first place overall in the NHL. In

the West, Vancouver moved ahead of the St. Louis Blues, who lost to

Columbus.

The Canucks and New York Rangers, who did not play Saturday, are

tied for first place overall with 107 points each.

The Flames were eliminated from playoff contention.

”We came in here tonight mathematically still alive, but

knowing our chances were very slim,” Calgary coach Brent Sutter

said. ”Our focus was to win the hockey game and, again, we came up

short one more time.”

Ebbett deflected in defenseman Sami Salo’s shot from in front of

the Calgary net.

”Just nice to get another shift in overtime,” Ebbett said.

”Sami had his head up. It wasn’t his hardest shot but it was in

the right spot and I just put my stick out there and just got a

lucky bounce.”

The winger was playing his first game since he was sidelined by

a hit by Dennis Seidenberg in Boston on Jan. 7.

Ebbett joined Vancouver hoping to rejuvenate his career, but he

struggled to get into the lineup early in the season and then

suffered a fractured foot that kept him out of 17 games. He was

just starting to find his niche when he got hurt again in

Boston.

”I’m very happy for the young man,” Canucks coach Alain

Vigneault said. ”He’s gone through some challenging circumstances

this year with a couple injuries. To see him battle to get healthy,

and nobody was sure if he’d be able to come back this year, but he

found a way to get himself healthy and come into the lineup, and

tonight he pushed his way into the lineup minutes and was able to

get us a goal in OT.”

Max Lapierre and Marc-Andre Gragnani also scored for

Vancouver.

Olli Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri scored for the Flames, who

continued their habit of squandering a lead – an early 2-1

advantage in the third period.

”It could have went both ways,” Calgary winger Alex Tanguay

said. ”But in a year like this, it doesn’t seem that it’s going

our way.”

The Canucks went 0 for 2 on the power play and Flames went 1 for

2.

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo returned after he missed a

scheduled start Friday because of a stiff neck.

Luongo said the Canucks were aware that St. Louis had lost 5-2

to Columbus and that they could leapfrog the Blues into first place

in the West.

”After the second (period) we were aware that they had lost,”

he said. ”Obviously it was a huge period for us coming in.

Obviously we wanted to get the win and get first place. We found a

way to get it done and it’s a nice win for the boys.”

Calgary goaltender Henrik Karlsson made his first start since he

suffered a knee injury in Vancouver on Dec. 4. It was only his

second appearance since then. He last played while mopping up for

Miikka Kiprusoff in one period Feb. 21 against Edmonton.

Vancouver led 1-0 after the first period and the score was tied

1-1 after the second.

Lapierre opened the scoring at 5:08 of the first as he took

Henrik Sedin’s pass off his skate and jammed it past Karlsson. It

was Lapierre’s second goal in two games.

”It’s a fun time right now, but at the end of the day I know

what my role is,” said Lapierre, who has four points in the past

two games. ”It’s to play physical and good in my own zone, but

I’ll take what’s going on right now.”

Jokinen tied it at 1-1 on a power play at 5:38 of the second

period as he put home a one-timer on a pass from Jarome Iginla

during a 3-on-2 rush. Then Cammalleri gave the Flames a 2-1 lead

just 51 seconds into the third period as he one-timed a David Moss

pass behind Luongo from about 10 feet inside the blue line.

Gragnani tied it at 2-2 at 11:45 of the third as he slapped in a

pass from Alex Burrows with Lapierre trying to set a screen in

front of the net. The puck appeared to go in off Karlsson.

It was Gragnani’s first goal as a Canuck. He was acquired near

the close of the Feb. 27 trading deadline as part of the deal that

sent Cody Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres.

”I’m just trying to fit in and I think that’s what I did

tonight,” Gragnani said.

Notes: Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff needs two more games

played for 600. All but 47 have come with the Flames. Before the

Flames acquired him in December 2003, he was a third-stringer with

San Jose. … Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa missed his third

straight game due to what the coaching staff calls maintenance

days. … With Ebbett back in the lineup, Dale Weise was a healthy

scratch. … Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault hopes defenseman Keith

Ballard, out with a concussion and neck injury since early

February, can play a couple of games before the regular season

ends.