Vrbata’s hat trick helps Canucks beat Sabres, snap 5-game skid
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Pulsating postgame music in the home dressing room at Rogers Arena has been far from the norm this season.
For one night at least, the Vancouver Canucks could relax.
Radim Vrbata scored three goals for his sixth career hat trick and Vancouver beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Monday to snap a five-game losing streak.
"We were looking for a good performance for a win and to feel a little better about ourselves," Vrbata said. "Even though it’s just one game, it’s a good start."
Brandon Prust had a goal and an assist, and Henrik Sedin also scored for Vancouver (10-11-8). Ryan Miller stopped 32 shots against his former team, and the Canucks won for just the fourth time in their last 17 games.
"It’s a good feeling for sure coming in here and seeing a lot of smiles on guys that haven’t been scoring," Sedin said. "Hopefully we can build on this one."
Daniel Sedin and Adam Cracknell each added two assists as Vancouver improved to 4-6-3 at home.
"We’ve talked about getting our confidence back, getting our swagger back where you’re going into games and you’re feeling like you’re going to win," Prust said. "That’s what this does."
Brian Gionta and Sam Reinhart scored for Buffalo, and Linus Ullmark made 26 saves.
"We want better within this room," Gionta said. "We know we’re capable of that, so that’s why it’s so disappointing."
Vancouver extended its lead to 3-1 at 4:34 of the second period as Prust scored his first of the season off a nice pass in front from Derek Dorsett. Prust, fined $5,000 for his spear on Brad Marchand in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Boston, celebrated his first goal in 50 games.
"We have been frustrated a little bit with our game," Prust said. "We have done some good things, but haven’t been rewarded. It’s good to finally be rewarded."
Vancouver made it 4-1 with 2:42 left in the period on a 4-on-3 power play when Henrik Sedin tipped Alexander Edler’s shot past Ullmark for his ninth of the season.
"There has been a stretch here you can tell there’s been guys that have been thinking hockey differently," Henrik Sedin said. "Some guys want to get it deep and work it down low and other guys want to make plays. Tonight we were on the same page."
Playing their third game in four nights following Sunday’s 4-2 loss in Edmonton, the Sabres got one back at 1:51 of the final period when Ryan O’Reilly stole the puck from Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis behind the Vancouver goal and fed Reinhart, who fired past Miller for his eighth.
Vrbata, who scored twice in the first, completed his hat trick with 5:32 to go as he fired a shot past Ullmark for his ninth. It was his first three-goal game since Oct. 3, 2013, with the Coyotes.
"The last couple games you could see we were not a very confident group," Vrbata said. "It seemed like every mistake we made, it turned against us. It’s good to have a game like that where you have a good performance and you get a result."
Bo Horvat and Chris Higgins had great chances for the Canucks early, but the Sabres grabbed the lead at 6:48 of the first when Gionta batted a puck out of the air past Miller for his third on a play that stood up after video review.
The Canucks tied it 80 seconds later when Vrbata scored his seventh after the Sabres couldn’t clear their zone. Higgins saw his shot stopped by Ullmark, but the rebound spilled out to Vrbata.
Vancouver appeared to take the lead with 6:32 left in the period, but Alexandre Burrows’ goal off a scramble was waved off after the referee lost sight of the puck and blew his whistle.
Vrbata made it 2-1 with 3:18 to go in the first when he scored on a slick deflection.
"It always helps when on your first or second shift you get an open net," Vrbata said. "Then you get a tip there and it seems like everything’s falling in place."
Miller, dealt by Buffalo to St. Louis at the 2014 trade deadline before he signed with Vancouver that summer, is 2-1-0 against the Sabres. … Prust’s previous goal came for Montreal against Buffalo on Feb. 3. … Vancouver concludes a four-game homestand Wednesday against the New York Rangers. … Buffalo visits Calgary on Thursday. … The Canucks honored former players Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison — who made up the West Coast Express line during their time in Vancouver — before the game.
- Adam Cracknell
- Alexander Edler
- Alexandre Burrows
- Bo Horvat
- Brandon Prust
- Brian Gionta
- Buffalo Sabres
- Chris Higgins
- Dan Hamhuis
- Daniel Sedin
- Derek Dorsett
- Henrik Sedin
- Linus Ullmark
- Radim Vrbata
- Ryan Miller
- Ryan O'Reilly
- Sam Reinhart
- Vancouver Canucks