The Vancouver Canucks are starting to look like contenders again as they continue to rebound from a disastrous 2013-14 season.
Daniel Sedin scored 4:05 into overtime as the Canucks gained a share of first-place overall in the NHL with a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
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Sedin scored his second game-winning goal of the season after receiving a pass from his twin brother Henrik. They each earned their second point of the night on the play as the Canucks (12-5-0) posted their eighth win in 10 games under new coach Willie Desjardins.
"I didn’t know we were (tied for first overall)," said Desjardins. "I don’t know (what it means to me.) There’s lots of hockey (left). We have to get better as a team. I don’t think we’re playing great. We have to get better."
Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller, who made 21 saves, echoed Desjardins’ comments.
"It’s nice to touch that (first-overall) threshold," said Miller. "It’s a nice little checkpoint to say we got there. We’ve gotta keep working as a group to get better throughout the year. It’s about being there in the end."
The Canucks are attempting to return to the playoffs after failing to earn a post-season berth last season for the first time since 2008. The poor showing in 2013-14 resulted in the firings of former general manager Mike Gillis and coach John Tortorella.
"It’s been a different year," said Henrik Sedin. "We started off with two games, then a week off. It’s been tough, two tough road trips where we were showing we are a good team. We keep winning games. We find ways to win. It’s fun."
Shawn Matthias, Alex Burrows and Kevin Bieksa scored for the Canucks in regulation time.
"We are happy, obviously," said Bieksa. "It’s a good start for us. We wanted to get out of the gate early with the way the summer went and all the new changes. A lot of guys coming in wanted to prove themselves and reprove themselves. We’ve got that accomplished so far."
Kyle Turris, a native of New Westminster, B.C., led the Senators with a goal and an assist as the Senators (7-4-4) suffered their third-consecutive loss.
"It’s great we battled to get a point out of it," said Turris. "I think we got stronger as the game went on. That’s kind of how we have been playing."
Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone also chipped in for the Senators. All goals were scored at even strength as the Canucks outshot the Sens 37-24.
The Canucks did not allow Ottawa to get a shot in overtime as they controlled the play most of the night — despite playing their fourth game in six nights. They also stood out in their first game at home following a difficult four-game road trip that included stops in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
"It’s good to come back home after a long trip and show good energy," said Miller. "I thought we did a great job controlling the play. (Ottawa goalie Craig) Anderson was steady all night. We really carried the play in their end, I think."
Neither team could score in the first period and the score was tied 2-2 after the second. Less than four minutes after Bieksa put the Canucks ahead 3-2 in the third, Stone knocked home a Turris rebound off a rush to force the extra session.
The game was the first between the teams since Ottawa beat the Canucks in the Heritage Classic at B.C. Place Stadium in March. Former Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was subsequently traded to Florida after expressing concern to then GM Gillis about his backup role behind Eddie Lack. On Tuesday, Lack served as the backup while Miller, a free-agent signing who struggled with Buffalo and St. Louis, posted the victory.
Notes: Vancouver first-line winger Radim Vrbata and defenseman Luca Sbisa missed their second-consecutive game with undisclosed injuries. Ottawa winger Alex Chiasson returned to the lineup after missing three games with a foot injury. Senators rookie centre Curtis Lazar, a 20-year-old Salmon Arm, B.C., native, earned an assist as he played an NHL game in his home province for the first time. The Canucks will host Arizona on Friday. The Senators move on to Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Saturday to complete a three-games tour of Western Canada.