Canucks rout Habs with 7-goal performance
Vancouver Canucks captain Roberto Luongo told his teammates to relax, stop worrying, and have fun.
They executed the star goalie's plan perfectly at the expense of the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
After only managing six goals while losing their first three games of the season, the Canucks scored in bunches in their 7-1 romp over Montreal.
Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and Steve Bernier scored late in the first period, Henrik Sedin scored twice in a 3:37 span of the second, and Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Burrows scored 19 seconds apart in the third to help Vancouver avoid the first 0-4 start in franchise history.
"It's nice to get a win finally," said Luongo, who made 27 saves after being pulled from the Canucks last game on Monday and coming into this one with an uncharacteristic .820 save percentage and 4.55 goals-against average.
"We just spoke about relaxing before the game and just going out there and having fun, play our game and not worry about our record right now."
Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal, and Carey Price, who was brilliant in the first two games of the season, stopped 25 of 32 shots before being pulled with 8 minutes left. The Canadiens lost for the second time in two nights.
"You don't win any battles for loose pucks you're not going to win too many hockey games," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "We were outworked, and outdetermined. To win games you have to show a lot more determination."
Vancouver took advantage of a Montreal team that flew in late after losing to Calgary, outshooting the Canadiens 14-4 in the opening period and jumping out to a 3-0 lead. After averaging 40 shots in the three losses, the puck finally started to go in the Canucks against a defenseless Price.
"It felt like everything was going in and rightfully so," said Kesler, who also had two assists after opening the scoring. "We've been working hard and it s finally good to get rewarded."
Kesler took a pass from Alexander Elder in full flight and split the defensive pairing of Hall Gill and Yannick Weber, skating in alone from the blue line and beating Price with a nice forehand-backhand-forehand deke with 6:10 left in the opening period.
Raymond doubled the lead by getting behind the defense through the neutral zone, cutting hard through the crease and slipping a backhand through Price's legs.
Bernier made it 3-0 on a power play with 1:26 left, firing the puck into an empty net after a nice blind passing play from Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Montreal came out firing in the second period, recording the first 14 shots of the period and getting a sharp-angle power-play goal from Plekanec before the Canucks managed their first shot more than halfway through the period. But any chance of a comeback ended when Plekanec took a tripping penalty and Henrik Sedin was left alone to convert a rebound from identical twin Daniel.
Henrik Sedin added his second goal when a turnover at center created a 2-on-0 with Bernier from the blue line. The Swedish star faked a pass before lifting a backhand over the outstretched blocker of Price.
"It seems easy when pucks are going in but this is the way we have been playing in the first three games too," said Henrik Sedin, who also had an assist.
It was a tough night for Price, who was playing his first NHL game in his home province in front of family and friends after being benched in his lone visit last season despite having more than 800 fans in attendance.
"It was pretty disappointing not being able to play (last year), but this is even more disappointing," said Price, with a fresh, fist-sized hole in the wall beside his locker. "I battled as hard as I could."
He just didn't get much help.
Samuelsson jammed a power play rebound through him midway through the third as the Canucks went 3-for-5 with the man advantage. After Burrows scored on the next shift, Price was mercifully pulled in favor of Jaroslav Halak.
"It's terrible. We didn't do a good job for him the first two games and he stood on his head, he was Superman," said Mike Cammalleri, refusing use back-to-back games as an excuse. "We've all been on road trips before. We're pro athletes. We've got to come with better than that."
Daniel Sedin had three assists. ... Weber, a 21-year-old rookie called up after top defenseman Andrei Markov was hurt in the season opener, was minus-3 through two periods. ... LW Tanner Glass made his regular-season Canucks debut in place of Russian rookie Sergei Shirokov, who has struggled after leading the team with seven points in four preseason games.