For the first time in a month, the Vancouver Canucks have won two in a row.
Cory Schneider made 26 saves for his first career shutout, Manny Malhotra scored two goals and the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks won consecutive games for the first time in four weeks, beating the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 at the Honda Center on Sunday night.
NHL scoring leader Daniel Sedin got a power-play goal in the third period for the Canucks, who had alternated wins and losses for a full month before back-to-back victories in Southern California to kick off a five-game trip.
"We're getting back to the things that made us successful over the course of the year," said Malhotra, who contributed his first two-goal game in four months. "(We're) getting on teams quick, forcing them to make errors and forechecking really hard. I think our goals were a result of that."
Dan Ellis stopped 13 shots in his first regulation loss in five appearances with the Ducks, whose three-game winning streak ended.
Malhotra scored his 100th career goal in the opening minute before adding another goal 17 seconds into the second period. Jannik Hansen assisted on both goals as Vancouver moved seven points ahead of East-leading Philadelphia in the Presidents' Trophy race.
"When you come out the way we did and then you push the pace and roll the lines the way we were, we're pretty hard to play against," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "When we did make some mistakes, Schneider was really good and made the right saves at the right time."
After third-period comebacks led to overtime victories over Detroit and Dallas in their past two games, the Ducks missed a chance to leapfrog back into the top eight in the crowded West playoff picture. Anaheim dropped to 3-2-1 on a key seven-game homestand that ends Wednesday against the New York Rangers.
"We have to reevaluate, sit back and take a look at the things we did wrong and right," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We’ll present that to them. I talked to them after the game. I told them they just didn’t play well enough to win the hockey game. We have to accept responsibility for that. We have been on an emotional rollercoaster and have played lots of hockey. Every game is very important."
Schneider capitalized on a rare chance to play in place of starter Roberto Luongo, earning his first shutout in 29 career appearances.
One day after Luongo picked up his 300th career victory against the Kings, his extremely capable backup picked up a historic shutout in just his second appearance in the past nine games. Schneider's stats are nearly identical to the totals of Luongo, the Canadian Olympic hero.
"I was most happy that I got the win," Schneider said. "Luongo and I have been joking that we've lost four or five shutouts in the last few minutes. The guys buckled down at the end. It's a good feeling to finally get this out of the way, but the team is more important. I've never really been a shutout guy. Hopefully there are many more to come."
Malhotra put the Canucks ahead just 42 seconds in, beating Ellis with a stoppable shot on an odd-man rush. The veteran center then created his own goal on the first shift of the second period, disrupting Ellis behind the net and forcing a turnover by rookie Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler before banging home a one-timer from Hansen.
"Any time you get scored on at the start of both periods, it’s not a good sign," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "It put us behind the eight ball. We had opportunities to get back into this hockey game. We hit a few posts and a crossbar. That is the way things go some nights. We can’t get too high or too low. We have to get going here for the next one."
Malhotra is a journeyman center who specializes in defense, but his two-goal game was his third of the season, albeit the first since Nov. 6.
The Ducks twice hit Schneider's post in the second period, but failed to capitalize on four power plays.
Sedin, who scored the tiebreaking goal in Vancouver's win at Los Angeles, capitalized in the third period with accidental help from Ducks defenseman Andreas Lilja, whose stick redirected Sedin's slap shot between Ellis' legs.
"We shut them down defensively," Ellis said. "We played a very strong game. We had some chances, but we just didn’t bury them. Schneider played well for them and gave them a chance to win."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.