But Mitchell gave the Canucks' offense a big boost on Thursday night with his first goal in 22 games as the Canucks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 at the WachoviaCenter.
The goal was Mitchell's third of the season, but first since Oct. 11 and just his 18th in 566 NHL games.
"Kind of get scared when he wanders off near the other team's net," Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo said with a laugh. "You never know what could happen."
What did happen was Tanner Glass bulled his way out of the corner and into the crease. Philadelphia netminder Brian Boucher stopped his shot, but Glass bumped Boucher enough that he couldn't recover in time to stop Mitchell's backhander from the slot.
"Just kind of a broken play, puck squirted out," Mitchell said. "Most of their guys were turned around to the net and a lot of times you can creep down a little bit when their forwards are down toward the net. Got lucky that puck bounced out and I put a backhand up high."
Alexandre Burrows and Christian Ehrhoff also scored goals, Henrik Sedin had a pair of assists, and Luongo stopped all 38 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. Taking in Luongo's second straight strong performance -- he made 27 saves in the Canucks' 5-2 win in New Jersey on Wednesday -- were Steve Yzerman, executive director for Canada's Olympic team, and assistant Doug Armstrong.
"Didn't know (they were watching) until after the game," Luongo said. "Kind of happy they were now."
The Canucks entered the game just 5-8-0 on the road, but have won three straight away from G.M. Place, including the first two on a four-game road trip that continues Saturday in Carolina and finishes Tuesday in Nashville.
"Back-to-back games, against a team that was desperate," Burrows said. "We knew they were going to be playing hard. … It was good, builds a little bit of confidence on the road. We're finding ways right now."
The Flyers lost for the sixth time in their last seven games, and have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 10-12, 2003. They lost 1-0 on Saturday in Atlanta. Their last goal came at 19:56 of the first period of against Buffalo on Nov. 27, and their scoreless streak is now 160:04.
Philadelphia, which entered the game tied for second in the League on the power play, went 0-for-5 against a Vancouver team which entered the game 21st in the NHL killing penalties and 24th on the road.
Anger boiled over in a short team meeting after the game. Captain Mike Richards wouldn't detail what was said, but did say a number of points were discussed.
"We hit on some points we felt we needed to address and we did that," Richards said.
One of them was placing an importance on creating traffic in front of the other team's net. The Flyers have been piling up lots of shots but getting few true scoring chances. Luongo said he saw almost everything the Flyers threw at him.
"We create chances, just seems like we're not at the net," said forward Danny Briere. "Lot of loose pucks right around the net. It's not the job of one or two guys -- it's all of us, me first. We have to get closer to the net, we have to create or be there for the chances that we create. We create chances, pucks are laying right there, and we're always a step behind, or the defenseman always gets body position on us or they get a stick on us. Earlier in the season when we were scoring goals it seemed like we were on the inside, always finding those pucks. We have a pretty big team -- big bodies up front; I just don't think we're using that to our advantage right now. We're always a step behind."
Brian Boucher played well in the loss, stopping 25 of 28 shots. Two of the goals he couldn't be blamed for, including Mitchell's.
"He's been sniffing around the net," Burrows said of the veteran defenseman. "He likes to come down there. He made a great read … and was able to find the puck, go backhand, top shelf. We won't see too many of those, but we'll take it at this time of year."
The same could be said for Burrows' goal. He was battling with Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger in front when Daniel Sedin's shot caromed off his back and into the net at 17:28 of the second for his eighth of the season.
Ehrhoff made it 3-0 at 16:41 of the third. Henrik Sedin walked through the high slot and backhanded a pass to Ehrhoff, who one-timed a shot that trickled under Boucher's arm for the defenseman's seventh goal of the season.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com
|Willie Mitchell (3) ASST: Rick Rypien (2), Tanner Glass (2)|
1 - 0 VAN
|Alexandre Burrows (8) ASST: Daniel Sedin (8), Henrik Sedin (17)|
2 - 0 VAN
|Christian Ehrhoff (7) ASST: Henrik Sedin (18)|
3 - 0 VAN
|Alexandre Burrows Unsportsmanlike conduct against Mike Richards|
|Henrik Sedin Holding against Mike Richards|
|Ryan Kesler Cross checking against Jeff Carter|
|Kimmo Timonen Interference against Mikael Samuelsson|
|Chris Pronger Slashing against Ryan Kesler|
|Mike Richards Fighting (maj) against Kevin Bieksa|
|Kevin Bieksa Fighting (maj) against Mike Richards|
|Daniel Briere Spearing against Mikael Samuelsson|
|Willie Mitchell Fighting (maj) against Chris Pronger|
|Chris Pronger Fighting (maj) against Willie Mitchell|
|Mikael Samuelsson Roughing against Daniel Briere|
|Daniel Briere Spearing against Mikael Samuelsson|
|Mason Raymond Hi-sticking against Mike Richards|
|Alexandre Burrows Interference on goalkeeper against Brian Boucher|
|Kimmo Timonen Hooking against Jannik Hansen|