Canucks 6, Penguins 2
The Vancouver Canucks wasted little time taking advantage of the Pittsburgh Penguins' inexperienced goaltending.
Henrik Sedin scored the tying goal, then added two assists in Vancouver's four-goal burst in a 5-minute stretch in the Canucks' 6-2 victory Saturday night.
The outburst started with Alex Burrows' short-handed breakaway with 1:23 left in the first period. Mikael Samuelsson, Jannik Hansen and Willie Mitchell then scored in the first 4 minutes of the second period to chase goalie John Curry, pressed into service by an injury to Marc-Andre Fleury.
``It's tough as a team to play when shots are going in like that,'' said Daniel Sedin, who had two assists, including his 500th NHL point. ``We knew he was kind of shaky and we wanted to take advantage of that.''
Ryan Kesler also scored, and Roberto Luongo made 22 saves as the Canucks snapped a three-game losing skid by capitalizing on Fleury's absence after he broke the ring finger on his left hand during a 3-2 win in Edmonton on Thursday.
``It's proof that you can be the Stanley Cup champions but if you get no goaltending, you stand no chance of winning,'' Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. ``Their first goaltender obviously wasn't good enough.''
Curry, in goal because regular backup Brent Johnson was already out with a lower- body injury, was beaten five times on 14 shots. He was replaced 4:29 into the second period by Alexander Pechurski, a 19-year-old Russian called up from junior hockey on an emergency basis and signed to an amateur tryout contract.
Pechurski stopped 12 of 13 while wearing Fleury's pads, and was named third star. Not bad for a fifth-round draft pick who left Russian in late December and played the night before for Tri-City in the Western Hockey League.
``That's the definition of thrown into the fire,'' coach Dan Bylsma said. ``From getting the call last night, to wearing Flower's pads, it's a lot to ask of a young kid. But he played fantastic, stood in there and was confident.''
By then, however, it was too late. Evgeni Malkin ended his 11-game goal drought to open the scoring 7:32 in. But it was all Vancouver after that as the Canucks tormented Curry in his fourth NHL appearance - and first this season.
Henrik Sedin banked a shot from below the goal line in off the back of Curry's blocker, and Burrows put Vancouver ahead on a short-handed breakaway with 1:22 left in the period after stripping the puck off Sergei Gonchar at the point.
``Obviously we wanted to get to him early and we didn't really,'' said Burrows, who has 11 goals and two assists during an 8-game point streak. ``In the first 10 minutes we only had 1 or 2 shots and coach kept telling us to get some pucks on net and try to get rebounds and traffic and that's what we did there early in the second period and we were rewarded with a few goals.''
Samuelsson made it 3-1 by deflecting a soft, bouncing point shot over Curry's shoulder 1:22 into the second period. Shortly after Rick Rypien's 40-foot from the board shot went off Curry's glove and hit the post, Hansen was left alone to bang in a backdoor feed from Henrik Sedin. Mitchell made it 5-1 52 seconds later, taking a cross-ice feed from Henrik at the faceoff circle and skating in untouched before tucking his career-best fourth goal between Curry's pads.
``I've got to use it as a learning experience,'' Curry said.
Bylsma left Curry in another minute and a half - and a great save off Christian Ehrhoff - before replacing him with Pechurski, who was forced to wear a set of Fleury's leg pads because his junior equipment didn't meet NHL standards.
``No, it wasn't (comfortable),'' Pechurski said with translation from Gonchar. ``I was excited I had a chance to play. It was like a dream for me coming and playing in the NHL. I was surprised, but happy I had a chance to play.''
Former Canuck Matt Cooke also scored for the Penguins, who were trying to wrap up a five-game road trip by sweeping the final three games in Western Canada.
Sedin's three-point performance gave him an NHL-leading 67 points on the season, four more than San Jose's Joe Thornton in second place. It also came playing head-to-head against Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who was held off the scoresheet and remains fourth in NHL scoring with 57 points.
``They controlled the puck, especially the first two periods, Crosby said of the Sedin twins and linemate Burrows. ``They just outplayed us.''
NOTES: Fleury, who finished Thursday's game despite suffering a small fracture in his finger during the second period, isn't expected to be out long. He took morning skate Saturday and is listed as day-to-day. ... Canucks RW Pavol Demitra, who had 53 points in 69 games last season, made his season debut after tearing up his shoulder in the second round of the playoffs, an injury that required surgery in May and again in mid-October.