VANCOUVER -- Ryan Miller cherishes every game he plays against his brother Drew, a Detroit Red Wings forward. But the Vancouver Canucks goaltender admitted it was a little easier to enjoy the matchup after a rare win against both on Saturday night.
"I haven't beat him in a while, or ever, I don't know,” Ryan Miller said of Drew. “I can't even remember back that far. I owed him a win."
Ryan had lost seven of eight with Drew in the Red Wings' lineup, and he was 2-10-2 in his career against Detroit. But with their parents in the stands, the Michigan native made a great early save against Drew, and was exceptional against consecutive Detroit power plays in the third period that included a brief 5-on-3.
Tomas Tatar ended Miller’s shutout with 3:30 left and goalie Jimmy Howard pulled for an extra attacker. After Vancouver blew third-period leads twice in its past three games, Henrik Sedin ended any doubt by scoring his 200th goal into the empty net with 1:51 left.
"Even after they scored their goal there was no panic on the bench," Sedin said. "We kept playing the way we had throughout the game so I think we showed a lot of composure."
Sedin, who also had an assist, added a second empty-net goal with 32 seconds left, but Miller was the big story for Vancouver.
For Ryan Miller, playing against his brother was a big part of it.
"When you think about how long pro hockey's been played, especially at the NHL level, not a lot of people get to say they get to do something like this so I try and just appreciate it," he said. "I just want to be able to say when the game's over or even when my career's over that we had fun with it and we took time on the ice to appreciate each other and compete against each other."
Miller had to be at his best against Detroit’s second-ranked power play early in the third period. He robbed forward Pavel Datsyuk twice in the same sequence 2:30 into the third period, throwing out his right pad to stop a quick shot from the slot and then sliding right to left to deny Datsyuk on a backdoor chance. After Howard stopped Sedin on a shorthanded breakaway, Miller stuffed Stephen Weiss on a jam play atop the crease before the second penalty expired.
Miller made another great left pad stop off Tomas Jurco in the slot shortly after the power plays were over, and Vrbata converted his own rebound for an insurance goal two minutes later.
"(Miller) kept us in there," said Vrbata, who has a goal in three straight games. "He made some unbelievable saves. The second goal gave us a little breather."
Vancouver’s power play scored twice against Detroit’s second-ranked penalty kill as the Canucks improved to 4-1-1 in their past six games and moved into second place in the Pacific Division.
"We did lots of good things," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "Miller was good and our specialty teams weren’t good enough. We had some real good looks (on the third period power plays) too and I thought Miller made some really good saves on those."
Howard finished with 20 saves for the Red Wings (20-10-9) who began a six-game road trip.
Detroit had won three straight games and had points in eight straight (6-0-2) against the Canucks.
"It was a well-played game from both teams," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "Their special teams were a little better than our special teams. That's the real difference."
Playing outside the Eastern time zone for the second time this season, Detroit controlled play early. But Miller kept it scoreless with a great save on Drew after he was left alone in the slot to one-time a pass from behind the Canucks net eight minutes in.
It was the Red Wings' last shot of the first period.
Vancouver gained momentum by holding Detroit’s power play without a shot on a chance midway through the period, and had the final six shots, forcing Howard to make several good saves.
"Our first power play didn't gain any momentum whatsoever," Babcock said. "It’s one of those nights you have to find ways to stay out of the box and have better specialty teams."
With Zetterberg in the penalty box for slashing, Edler opened the scoring on a power play 1:48 into the second period with a one-time slap shot from the point that beat a screened Howard high on his glove side.
It was Edler’s first goal in 23 games, and the fourth power play goal against Detroit’s penalty kill in 13 games and 44 chances.
"The last two, three weeks it’s felt really good," Henrik Sedin said of a power play that was 2-for-4 after the Canucks had two power play opportunities in the past three games. "It's been tough to not get the amount of power plays we want, but tonight we got four and sometimes that’s what you need to start feeling the puck and make plays."
Vancouver couldn’t extend the lead on two power plays in the second period and Miller made a couple of saves before it ended. He got in front of Tatar’s one-timer from the high slot and denied center Riley Sheahan with his left pad on the rebound midway through the period. Miller also got his glove on a Datsyuk redirection off the rush, reaching back with his left hand as he slid to his right.
"Again there’s some big saves by the goaltender," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "One of those goes in and your penalty-killing doesn't seem that good, but Miller was good."
Vrbata made it 2-0 with 9:11 left in the third period, lifting his team-leading 16th goal over Howard on a rebound after the goalie had to sprawl to stop Vrbata’s first attempt.
Tatar closed the gap with a one-timer past a screened Miller, but the Canucks didn’t buckle.
Henrik Sedin would have preferred to score his 200th on the shorthanded breakaway, but reached and passed the milestone by scoring into an empty net.
"A lot of times when you miss those chances they are going to come back to hurt you but tonight it didn’t," Sedin said.