The Canucks outburst of secondary scoring silenced critics Sunday night in a convincing 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. On a night Vancouver hosted their “Hockey Fights Cancer” night, four Canucks fought off a goal-drought. Andrew Alberts, Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson, and Ryan Kesler all scored their first of the season, while Cory Schneider, in his first start of the year also earned his first win.
Mason Raymond moved up to the first line to play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and he made the most of the opportunity.
Raymond registered three points and finished a plus-2 after going pointless in the first four games of the year. He netted two goals, including the game winner and added an assist to Samuelsson’s goal.
Last season, it took Raymond nine games to get his first, but finished with a career-high 25 goals, and 28 assists, finishing fifth on the team in points ( 25-28-53).
“Those guys are some great players, it’s hard to fill Alex Burrows’ shoes, but things went well, we made some good plays, so we’ll see what happens the rest of the way,” said Raymond. “I think we felt that we’ve had some good chances, but to actually get one feels, it’s cliché, but it’s like the monkey off the back, and more importantly we got the win.”
Mikael Samuelsson wasn’t immune from Alain Vigneault’s line juggling as he joined Raffi Torres and Manny Malhotra against the Canes Sunday.
“You get a little more on edge when they change up your lines and sometimes it’s good and I actually like to play with two big strong guys like Malhotra and Torres and I think we worked good together,” he said after the game.
Samuelsson scored his first goal of the season and assisted on the first two goals of the game. His performances earned him the game’s first star honour.
Andrew Alberts earned himself a spot on the Canucks crowded blueline in the preseason and proving he can be more than just depth.
His 14 hits leads all Canuck defencemen, while his nine blocked shots sits second on the team through five games. While not known for his offensive prowess, he scored the opening goal against Carolina and with that goal already meets last season’s goal total.
“I'm just a lot more comfortable in my surroundings and the coaches have confidence in me,” he told Vancouver Sun reporter Iain Macintyre. “If you make a turnover or make a mistake, they're going to put you back out there because they believe in you.”
Cory Schneider started in his first game of the season, making 32 saves on 33 shots for his first win in Vancouver.
"For me to get a win and some confidence from teammates and the coaching staff is big," Schneider said. "Shots were deceiving. A lot of credit goes to the team because a lot of it was from the outside and they only had a handful of real good opportunities."
The coaching staff has the intention of giving Schneider 20 games this season in an effort to give Roberto Luongo more rest.
"We all know Cory's going to play more games this year,” said assistant coach Rick Bowness. “You just get to the point where you can't let him sit too long or the benefits of that disappear. So it's important to all of us to get him in when the time is right and we feel the time is right right now. We have four games in six nights. There's not a chance Lui's going to play them all and there's not a chance we're going to throw the kid into a game where we're all tired and just hope for the best. It's not fair to the kid or the team."
Kesler centered a line with Jeff Tambellini and Jannik Hansen. He scored his first goal of the season, a slap shot to the top corner, during a late third-period power play.
Last season Kesler scored 25 goals and a career-high 75 points, finishing third in scoring on the team.
Kesler admitted that he felt relief to the puck in the net after going scoreless to start the season.
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, individually and team-wise," he said to Sportsnet reporter Mark Spector. "We put more pressure on ourselves in here than you or most people think. We all want to score goals, and we all want to perform. We just had to relax. It's a lot easier now, after a night like this."