The game was really over much sooner than that.
Brendan Morrison scored 57 seconds in and Alexandre Burrows added another goal less than a minute later as the Canucks netted a team-record tying six goals in the first period en route to a 6-2 win over Montreal on Saturday night.
“Once we got down a couple of goals I think we went into shock and at that point, really the game tonight was over,” said Bob Gainey. Montreal’s general manager and interim coach. “Our team stumbled hard early in the game, and really by the 5-minute mark of the first period the outcome of the game was established.”
By that point, Mattias Ohlund had already made it 3-0 with a power-play goal. Gainey, in his fourth game behind the bench since firing coach Claude Julien, called a timeout but Markus Naslund added another power-play goal at 12:15. Just 62 seconds later, Henrik Sedin pushed the lead to 5-0.
“It was over halfway through the first period,” Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. “They came out and totally exposed us and embarrassed us.”
“I don’t think we’ve had a period like that, probably ever,” Naslund said. “We got some bounces and they came out flat and it was a combination of all of that.”
Alex Auld made 24 saves for Vancouver, which improved to 9-1 against the Eastern Conference and kept pace with Calgary atop the Northwest Division.
“I don’t know if you can put your finger on why,” Auld, who started his 10th straight game, said of Vancouver’s record against Eastern teams. “But it’s obviously something we want to find for the rest of our season against our own conference.”
Michael Ryder scored early in the second and set up Saku Koivu’s goal with 1:14 left as the Canadiens fell to 2-2 since Gainey took over for Julien. After winning their first two games for Gainey, the Canadiens lost 3-2 in Calgary on Thursday.
Then they came out flat against the Canucks.
“Our team was stumbling and bumbling and we didn’t have a player really who was committed to doing what they needed to do,” Gainey said.
Jose Theodore was pulled after giving up five goals on 11 shots, but didn’t offer up any excuses despite a handful of defensive breakdowns in front.
“As a goalie, you want to help your team when they need you. When there’s breakdowns, you’ve got to make those big saves,” he said.
Cristobal Huet didn’t fare much better in his place early on. He stopped Josh Green alone in tight on the first shot he faced, but Trevor Linden scored on the second—a long wrist shot just 30 seconds after Theodore was yanked.
Even when Montreal appeared to gain momentum, it was quickly taken away.
Souray’s apparent power-play goal with 1:38 left in the first period was quickly waved off because he knocked the puck in with a high stick.
Perhaps the only celebrations back in Montreal were at the Burrows’ household, where Alexandre grew up cheering for the Canadiens.
Now 24 years old, the undrafted left winger was playing in the ECHL and on a ball hockey team before signing a free agent contract with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba last year. He earned his first NHL contract with the Canucks after this season started.
“I’ve been watching the Canadiens since I was a kid and they were always my favorite team so it’s a big goal for me, one of the biggest in my career so far,” said Burrows, whose early wraparound gave him three goals and five points in his first 10 NHL games.
“It opened the floodgates for us.”
Montreal has one win in its last 16 road games, falling to 7-12-4 away from home, while the Canucks improved to 18-3-3 in Vancouver. … Canucks G Maxime Ouellet backed up Auld one night after making 17 saves for Manitoba in a 4-2 AHL win over Hamilton, the Canadiens’ affiliate. … Canucks D Ed Jovanovski missed his 11th straight game with a groin injury, but has resumed skating. He plans to accompany the team when it leaves Sunday for a seven-game, two-week road trip.