“They’re awesome players. They’re going to make plays all the time. So, for me, I got to keep giving them the puck,” said Burrows, a career agitator and checker who was moved up to the top line alongside the Sedins three games ago.
“They are easy to play with for me. It’s just getting them the puck and go to the net and bring some guys with me to open some space for them.”
Burrows did just that on the opening goal midway through the first period, going to the net on a 3-on-2 rush as Daniel took a drop pass in the slot and fluttered a deflected shot over the right shoulder of Jaroslav Halak.
Alex Edler made it 2-0 on a delayed penalty 48 seconds later, but it wasn’t until Burrows and the Sedins hooked up again late in the second period that the game was decided. After a bad Montreal line change created a 3-on-2 rush, Burrows made a cross-ice pass to Daniel, who quickly fed it to his brother in the slot for the goal.
“Alex is a really easy guy to play with, he moves the puck well and reads the ice really good, so it was fun,” Henrik said. “We moved the puck well and they gave us a lot of room out here.”
Ryan Kesler scored on a 2-on-1 6 minutes into the third period to help Vancouver jump from ninth to fifth in the tightly packed Western Conference playoff race, one point ahead of Dallas, Columbus and Anaheim. The Canucks have won five of six since snapping an eight-game skid two weeks earlier, and improved to 10-0-1 against Montreal since last losing back on Nov. 30, 2003.
“We played really good defensively and created a lot of scoring chances too,” Henrik said. “I thought we played solid, turned the puck over a lot of times and had a lot of 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s. We could have scored a lot more.”
They didn’t give up much either. After surrendering at least one power-play goal for 10 straight games, the Canucks never took a penalty Sunday.
“That’s a great recipe for not giving up power-play goals,” said Luongo, who made 25 saves but added he didn’t face an odd-man rush the entire game.
The same couldn’t be said at the other end, where Montreal surrendered countless odd-man rushes and point-blank scoring chances. Captain Saku Koivu and Andrei Kostitsyn, with 2:27 left to play, scored for the slumping Canadiens, who have lost five of their last six games, and 10 of 13.
“We’ve tried everything. Obviously there’s nowhere to hide,” coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We just can’t find that spark that gets us going. Every time we make a mistake, whether it’s a big mistake or small mistake, the puck ends up in our net, whether it’s a bad bounce or a bad play.”
It was Montreal goalie Carey Price’s first professional game in his home province of British Columbia, but last month’s All-Star game starter started this game on the bench watching backup Halak, who earned a second straight start with a career-high 46 saves in a 4-2 win in Colorado on Friday night.
Price, who gave up a career-worst seven goals in Edmonton his last start, was benched because of a 2-7 record, 3.87 goals-against average and .864 save percentage since coming back after missing three weeks with an ankle injury. But with an estimated 30 family and friends in attendance—and a couple of hundred more making the trip from his hometown of Anahim Lake, about 340 miles northeast of Vancouver—Price got into the game with 9 minutes left.
“I knew there was a lot of people here that wanted to see him,” said coach Guy Carbonneau. “At 4-1, it’s not like we were going anywhere.”
Under fire from the opening faceoff, Halak was excellent early on. He made five great saves before the Canucks finally beat him with their 10th shot, a wrist shot from Daniel Sedin in the slot off a 3-on-2 rush that hit defenseman Josh George’s stick and fluttered up and over the helpless Halak’s right shoulder.
Edler made it 2-0 with the next shot less than a minute later, one-timing a low shot from the point past Halak’s left skate on a delayed Montreal penalty.
With the shots 11-5 at that point, Montreal called timeout and settled down, closing within a goal when Koivu was left alone in the slot to snap in Tom Kostopoulos’ pass out from behind the net before Luongo could react.
Montreal kept it close until Henrik Sedin s goal late in the third.
“We battle back, play an OK period, trying to get momentum and last minute of the period we have five guys trying to change when the puck goes back into our zone,” Carbonneau said. “To me those are things we talk about every day and practice every day but when you struggle like that, those things happen.”
Montreal C Tomas Plekanec served the last of his two-game suspension for slew-footing Edmonton D Denis Grebeshkov from behind Wednesday and can return Feb. 18 in Washington, which will also be the 6000th game for the Canadiens’ franchise. … Vancouver kicks off a four-game cross-Canada road trip in Calgary on Tuesday that ends a week later in Montreal. The large group that came from the area around Price’s small hometown was organized in part by his mother, Lynda, chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation.