Sabourin stopped 38 shots for his first NHL victory, Daniel Sedin scored on a power play 2:19 into overtime, and the Canucks beat Anaheim 3-2 Tuesday night in a matchup of division leaders.
Vancouver began a four-game road trip with its league-leading 23rd one-goal victory. The Canucks are 35-18-3 under Alain Vigneault, tying Tom Renney’s record for most wins by a Vancouver coach in his first season with the team.
“It was a team effort, and Dany came up really big for us,” Vigneault said. “He did a very good job in there and we were able to score two power-play goals. That was the difference.”
Sabourin, claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh on Oct. 4, was brilliant in his fifth start of the season and 12th NHL appearance. He was picked by Calgary in the fourth round of the 1998 NHL draft and was the AHL’s top goalie last season, going 30-14-4 with a 92.2 save percentage and a 2.26 goals-against average for the Penguins’ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton club.
Kevin Bieksa also scored on a power play and Markus Naslund had a goal and an assist for the Northwest Division-leading Canucks, who have won five straight and are 18-3-3 since Dec. 26—including 10-1-1 in their last 12 road games.
“They’re playing extremely well as a team right now, and that’s what it takes to have success in this league,” Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer said. “You can tell they have confidence in each other and in what they’re doing out there.”
Tim Brent opened the scoring with his first NHL goal, Chris Kunitz connected on a power play and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 28 saves for the Pacific Division-leading Ducks, who had beaten the Canucks five straight times including 6-0 and 2-1 in the first two meetings this season at Vancouver.
“We played a lot better defensively, and that was the key,” Sedin said.
Naslund tied the score at 2 with 15:54 left in regulation, taking control of a bouncing puck Andy McDonald tried to clear out of the Anaheim zone and scoring his 20th goal on a short wrist shot. It’s Naslund’s eighth consecutive season with 20 or more goals, tying Stan Smyl’s franchise record.
After a penalty-free third period, the Canucks got the man advantage for the fourth and last time at 1:33 of overtime when Niedermayer was sent off for hooking Brendan Morrison. Sami Salo got a drop pass in the slot from Naslund and took a 40-foot wrist shot that went wide of the net, but Sedin played the carom perfectly and whipped his 26th goal past a stunned Giguere.
“You don’t want to be in the penalty box in overtime when there’s that much (open) ice,” Niedermayer said. “A 4-on-3 is tough to defend, and unfortunately, they capitalized.”
Vancouver’s penalty-killing unit, which came in with a league-best 88.9 percentage, had allowed only six goals in 104 short-handed situations over the team’s previous 21 games. The Canucks killed off a two-man advantage Anaheim had for 72 seconds in the first period, but the Ducks grabbed a 2-1 lead on Kunitz’s 21st goal with 7 seconds left in the second period while Morrison was serving a cross-checking penalty.
“We didn’t start out great, but we found a way,” Naslund said. “We struggled against Anaheim the first two games this year, and we wanted to play a strong game. It was a good character win for us.”
The Ducks, who came in averaging a league-leading 18.1 penalty minutes, found themselves two men short after Brent and Sean O’Donnell both got holding penalties at 6:45 of the second period. The Canucks tied the score 1-all just 20 seconds later with their next shot on net, as Bieksa’s 40-foot wrist shot from the slot broke off Giguere’s pads.
“Earlier in the year, a lot of these games were going our way. And if we keep working at it, eventually, it’ll go that way again,” Niedermayer said following Anaheim’s 10th loss in 15 games. “We know what works for this team, so we just have to get back to it and stay with it.”
Morrison played in his 483rd consecutive game since joining the Canucks, breaking Trevor Linden’s franchise record. … The Ducks are 7-for-21 on the power play over their last four games, after going 0-for-21 in their previous five. … Henrik Sedin assisted on Bieksa’s goal. The Canucks are 110-35-16 when both Sedin brothers get a point in the same game. … Roberto Luongo has backstopped all of the Canucks’ other 34 victories—four shy of the single-season club record set by Kirk McLean in 1991-92.