Canucks end four-game skid with 2-1 win over Flames
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — John Tortorella and the Vancouver Canucks kept their cool this time around.
Yannick Weber scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, helping the Canucks snap a four-game skid with a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
It was the first meeting between the teams since a fierce line brawl broke out 2 seconds into a game on Jan. 18 that saw 150 penalty minutes assessed. Tortorella went after Flames coach Bob Hartley by storming Calgary’s locker room during intermission of that game.
Tortorella, furious at Hartley for putting his fourth line on the ice to start the game, served a 15-day suspension and the Canucks have been struggling since.
”We didn’t even talk about it in our locker room,” Tortorella said of Hartley’s starting line. ”We needed to play. We have to scratch, claw and grind and find points anyway possible.”
Despite Hartley starting tough guy Brian McGrattan again Saturday night, the teams clean until six minutes into the game when Bieksa got the better of Calgary’s Mark Giordano with a right hand after the two dropped gloves.
Giordano headed to the dressing room after, but returned later in the period.
”I could tell that Gio was good,” Hartley said. ”It was just a gash that needed to be fixed.”
Darren Archibald also scored for the struggling Canucks, who entered the game having lost 11 of their last 12. Vancouver lost 6-1 to Dallas on Thursday night, a defeat that defenseman Kevin Bieksa called ”rock bottom” for the team.
McGrattan had the only goal for Calgary, which had won its last two and three of its last five.
The Canucks had their chances early, including a 2-on-1 against Flames goalie Joni Ortio, but David Booth fired the puck wide to keep his goal drought intact. Booth hasn’t scored since Dec. 17.
The absence of Canucks stalwart goalie Roberto Luongo – traded on Tuesday to Florida – was felt at 2:13 of the second when a harmless looking slap shot by McGrattan near center ice eluded new No. 1 Eddie Lack. The crowd groaned and Tortorella shook his head in disbelief.
”I just wanted to throw one on net,” McGrattan said. ”I was at the end of my shift and fortunately it went in. It was a muck and grind game. A lot of sloppy plays at both ends. The puck was bouncing everywhere.
”Those are good tests to see what you’re made of.”
The Canucks evened the score three minutes later with a goal almost as ugly. With three Canucks crowding Ortio in the crease, Archibald wacked in the puck for his first career NHL goal.
”It’s never a bad play to stuff it and crash the net and get a greasy one,” Archibald said. ”That’s part of my game – win battles down low – and I kind of won a battle and stuffed it from behind the net and pitchforked it in.”
Lack didn’t let the bad goal take him mentally out of the game.
”I am just telling myself to get going again, and try to focus on the next save,” he said. ”And the guys got a goal really quick and that took the pressure off.”
Action picked up in the third as Ryan Kesler was stopped by Ortio on a point-blank shot in the slot, while at the other end, Lance Bouma missed on a wide-open net with Lack way out of position.
Weber scored the go-ahead goal five minutes into the third when he banged home a rebound off a shot from new teammate Shawn Matthias, who came to Vancouver from the Panthers in the Luongo trade.
”Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but that’s how we have to get out of our slump,” Weber said. ”We played a gritty game, and got some ugly goals and that’s the way we have to play.”
Calgary had a chance to tie the game with two power-play chances thanks to Vancouver’s Chris Higgins in the final five minutes, but the Flames couldn’t capitalize.
Lack finished with 22 saves, while Ortio stopped 12 at the other end for Calgary.
Notes: Saturday night marked the 10-year anniversary of former Canucks Todd Bertuzzi’s on-ice hit on Colorado’s Steve Moore. The former Avalanche forward, who never played again in the NHL, filed a $38 million dollar lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks. A trial date has been set for Sept. 8. … Canucks forward Zack Kassian served the first game of his three-game suspension after boarding Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon on Thursday.