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Canucks blank Flames

The SportsXchange

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Vancouver Canucks insisted they were confident in backup goaltender Eddie Lack while their usual go-to guy recovered from a groin injury.

In his first start since Roberto Luongo was hurt, Lack didn't disappoint.

Lack wasn't especially busy, but the 25-year-old stopped all 18 shots fired his direction to record a shutout in Sunday's 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I felt the team played a really good game," said Lack, whose 7-2 record this season now includes two shutouts. "Overall, I didn't see a lot of rubber and they made it easy on me the times they came. It was a really good team effort."

Right winger Jannik Hansen and center Mike Santorelli provided the goals for the Canucks (22-11-6), who have now won three in a row.

Netminder Reto Berra probably deserved a better fate in the Flames' net, but he couldn't skate to the other end of the ice and try to beat Lack on his own. The Flames (14-18-6) have now been blanked in back-to-back games.

"(Berra) is playing unbelievable and made some huge saves to keep us in it all night," said Flames defenseman Mark Giordano. "We just didn't generate enough. The past two games, we haven't been good enough. You're not going to win any games not scoring, and I feel we haven't had that same pop that we usually have."

The Canucks limited the Flames to just two shots in Sunday's first period and finally opened the scoring with 40 seconds to go before the intermission, with captain Henrik Sedin sending Hansen off to the races with a terrific pass and the speedy right-winger tucking a wrist shot inside the post.

That turned out to be the game-winner.

Santorelli added some insurance with 2:36 remaining, beating Berra with a low shot. Berra finished with 28 saves, including a sprawling stop on left winger Daniel Sedin in the second period and a pad save on Santorelli earlier in the third to keep it close.

Lack's best work was a save on Flames right winger Lee Stempniak in the final period, with the puck actually hitting his mask.

It's uncertain how long Luongo will be out, but the Canucks don't seem worried about the puck-stopping position.

"I think he faced two shots in the first, five or six shots halfway through the game. That's tough being a goalie, especially for him that hasn't faced a lot of shots this year," said captain Henrik Sedin. "He's so calm. He's in the right spot all the time. On the bench, you never think that it's going to be a goal. He's right there making easy saves. It's fun to watch."

Flames right winger Brian McGrattan was ejected just 2:43 into the first period after a high hit on Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts, who needed medical attention on the ice as McGrattan settled his differences with left winger Tom Sestito. The Flames' enforcer received a major penalty for elbowing -- and another major for fighting -- and was ejected, while Alberts did not return to the game.

"It was an ugly incident," Hansen said. "You definitely don't want to see a guy go down like that."

The Canucks had a week of rest before Sunday's date with the Flames, but then rushed home for Monday's meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

The Flames will welcome the Flyers for a New Year's Eve clash at the Scotiabank Saddledome, when they'll try to end a goal-scoring drought that has now spanned 125 minutes.

"Goal-scoring, that's the toughest part in this league," said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. "We need to keep going. We have lots of youngsters that are facing adversity right now. We have a few veterans that are facing adversity. The No. 1 priority that we have is to stick together right now. We knew we would have some bumps on the road and right now, we're there. Coming back from the break, it seems like we can't buy a goal."

NOTES: Canucks C Henrik Sedin needed stitches to his ear after being struck by a puck in the pregame warm-up, but he was in Vancouver's lineup for a 669th consecutive game, the second-longest active ironman streak in the NHL. ... The Flames recalled C Markus Granlund from the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat on Sunday morning, but the 20-year-old was a healthy scratch. To clear a spot for Granlund, D Kris Russell was placed on injured reserve. Russell is expected to miss three-to-five more weeks due to a sprained knee ligament. ... With Canucks G Roberto Luongo nursing a groin injury, G Joacim Eriksson was summoned from the AHL's Utica Comets and served as Vancouver's backup in Calgary. The 23-year-old from Sweden has yet to make his NHL debut. ... Flames D Dennis Wideman, who has missed 15 consecutive games due to a broken hand, has returned to practice with the team. ... On Saturday, the Canucks signed C Dane Fox to a professional contract. The 20-year-old is in his final season of junior hockey and sits seconds in the Ontario Hockey League scoring race with 41 goals and 26 assists in 37 appearances for the Erie Otters.
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