The Canucks rallied to a decisive 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night at Rogers Arena, earning their first victory of the pre-season.
Vancouver's veteran core was unstoppable, leading the charge and displaying mid-season form. Taking advantage of a first period power play, Henrik Sedin opened scoring, assisted by Daniel Sedin and Alexander Elder. Guillaume Desbiens added to the lead in the middle frame, before Daniel with a little help from his brother gave the Canucks a 3-0 lead to close out the second.
After a standout 2009-10 campaign, the Sedins - wearing A's along with Christian Ehrhoff - seem to be using this year's pre-season action to hone their skills and perfect a decidedly trigger-happy style, setting the stage for a promising start to the regular season.
Playing well with the lead, a good look for the Vancouver squad, the team continued to battle in the rough match up. Prospect Jordan Schroeder tallied his first NHL pre-season goal, set up by Brendan Morrison on the power play in the third. Ducks forward Josh Green ruined goaltender Roberto Luongo's shutout at 12:42 in the final period, but that was all the comeback that Anaheim could muster.
The Sedins were at their cycling best tonight, playing with Jeff Tambellini who slotted into the top line in a re-ignited quest to find a third for the twins while Alex Burrows is out due to off-season shoulder surgery. Signed by Vancouver in the summer, the left winger didn't find the score sheet but fit in well, building a decent case to crack the lineup.
“He was really good," said Daniel of Tambellini. "Has good speed and he understands the game, was solid defensively. You can’t ask for anything more."
Another staple of the Canucks lineup, Luongo also earned some praises for his performance in his first full 60-minutes of the pre-season action. The star netminder notorious for his slow starts was sharp, turning away 28 of 29 shots, stoning Bobby Ryan in close and getting a pad on a Saku Koivu chance in the third.
“We played a solid game throughout the game," said Daniel. "Lui had the saves when he needed to save the puck. It was a good effort.”
“He was unbelievable. When we needed him there he was there for us."
While Luongo and the Sedins of course are cemented firmly in the line up, another player trying to make his mark in exhibition play stood out. Former Canuck Brendan Morrison spent the night making it difficult for anyone to ignore his speed and skill.
Putting in a notable performance, playing with Schroeder and Peter Schaefer, Morrison's skating and plays were reminiscent of the glory days of the West Coast Express.
Morrison’s line came flying out of the starting blocks, giving Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller a workout, generating some of the game's best chances, before Schroeder found the back of the net at 4:30 in the third.
“It was nice to get some chances early," said Morrison. "When you feel the puck early it makes things easier to get into the game. We just wanted to build off that."
The 35 year old Pitt Meadows native, who is on a professional try out contract, would've liked to have netted a few more, but was happy with the play of his line.
“I thought we had a pretty good game, we generated a lot of chances, we only scored on one, but it’s fun playing with those two guys."
While Cody Hodgson, who is expected to dress for Sunday's game, remains the prospect most speculated about, Schroeder was drafted to high expectations as well, 22th overall in the 2009 draft, a steal if GM Mike Gillis ever saw one. The Minnesota native did nothing to dash the high hopes surrounding him, displaying elite skills on the line with the veteran former Canucks.
“It was great feeling that’s for sure," said Schroeder of his goal. "A great play by Mo and Schafs just working hard and getting the puck to me in the slot. I think our line did pretty well tonight and we had a good team effort.”
“You can just see the experience that they have out on the ice, so it was a lot of fun playing with those guys tonight."
“Right off the first shift when I hit the crossbar and we were buzzing down their zone.”
With four games remaining until the regular season, the Vancouver squad erased any unease caused by dropping three straight exhibition games. The highlights of tonight's win offer promising tidbits of what's to come.
NOTES: Assistant coach Rick Bowness stood in for head coach Alain Vigneault who is in Quebec for a personal matter, but is expected to be in Edmonton tomorrow; Daniel Sedin tallied five shots on net; Alexandre Bolduc finished the game with an assist and a team-leading five hits.