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Comeback kids

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Coming from behind to steal a win is tricky at home, it's nearly impossible on the road.

In a building like the Pengrowth Saddledome with 19,289 rowdy Flames fans desperately trying to push their team to a win, its even harder.

None of that phased the Canucks on Saturday night though, they looked as comfortable as ever as they doused the Flames for the second straight game, this time in a thrilling 5-4 overtime finish.

Pavol Demitra scored the game-winning goal with just over a minute remaining in sudden death play, his first goal as a member of the Canucks and 700th NHL point came at a perfect time as it put Vancouver ahead for good by capping off an impressive comeback.

Vancouver only led once in this game until Demitra's final blow, the visitors scored at 17:49 of the first period as Daniel Sedin picked up his first of two goals on the night, but the Canucks fell asleep after that allowing Calgary to score three straight goals to end the frame.

They had a bit more jump to their step to start the second and inspired by a great fight between Canucks forward Rick Rypien and Flame Brandon Prust - Rypien won this bout handedly, he was throwing haymakers like it was the middleweight championship - Vancouver was able to erase the two goal deficit. That was comeback number one.

Calgary forward Mike Cammalleri vaulted his team back in front by a score of 4-3 before the second period was through, meaning Vancouver trailed once again heading into the final 20.

Stats from the 2007-08 season mean nothing this year, it's true, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that the Canucks were 2-29-2 when trailing after two periods last season. They simply weren't a good come from behind team last year, the Canucks are faster, grittier and tougher than last year though, as advertised, and they made coming from behind to win almost look easy in the third period.

Steve Bernier and Henrik Sedin set up Daniel Sedin six minutes into the period, he knotted the game at fours and it became evident that this two points was going to the Canucks, one way or another. That was comeback number two.

They almost sealed the deal late in the third period with Calgary's Todd Bertuzzi in the box for boarding, then almost scored once again midway through overtime before Demitra ended the game for good in the late stages.

Twice the Canucks trailed, twice they fought back and because of it they now have two wins against a dreaded Northwest Division opponent to start the season. These comeback kids are alright.

The big difference for Vancouver in this game, much the same as it was in their 6-0 blowout win over Calgary on Thursday, was speed. After a sluggish first period the Canucks turned on the afterburners for the rest of the game and the Flames couldn't keep pace.

"We just talked about not trying to do too much at their blueline, they've got big D and they like to stand up but we feel our speed up front with our forwards, if we can get in behind them, can create chances down low and that's what we did," said Willie Mitchell, who logged over 25 minutes of ice time and really stepped up for a defensive unit that was without Kevin Bieksa.

"When we started doing that we started creating some life."

Mitchell also helped the team come to life when they were slumping early in the first period when he and Calgary captain Jarome Iginla traded recipes in the Flames zone.

Mitchell got Iginla's jersey partially up and over his head which allowed the BC native to land a few early blows, but Iggy held his own once he got his left hand free. He hit Mitchell right in the kisser with the last punch of the fight, his bulls-eye definitely left a mark.

It didn't really matter who won this tussle though as it came moments after Calgary had scored their third goal of the period. It shifted momentum in Vancouver's favour because it helped stop the bleeding.

"I was swinging for the fences a bit there, I was getting a little anxious but it was a lot of fun, we've gone a couple of times and like I said, it gets both teams into the game in a hurry," said Mitchell.

"Jarome's a good competitor and he's one of those few guys that can play any way he wants and I think that if you're going to compete against him and be a guy who's going to hopefully shut him down, I think you should play him that way back. That was a good start for both teams, it kinds of gets everyone going a little bit."

A come from behind win by the Canucks will definitely get the team going as they skate into Washington for a Thanksgiving tilt with the Capitals. The comeback Canucks were exciting to watch on this night, but hopefully last minutes heroics won't be necessary against the Caps.

  3 – Fights for the Canucks, they've dropped the mits four times in two games

7 – Shots on net for Daniel Sedin, who scored twice and was the game's first star

11 – Goals for the Canucks in their first two games of the season

11 – Combined points for the Sedins and Bernier this season (4-7-11)

25 – Saves for Roberto Luongo, he held Vancouver in the game in the late stages

The top line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Steve Bernier was impressive once again, as was the third line of Jannik Hansen, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, these six players combined for eight points in the win.

The second line of Pavol Demitra, Mason Raymond and Taylor Pyatt had a few chances but they haven't been able to carry their pre-season success over into the regular season.

There were a few times were Vancouver's D tried to make the extra pass instead of just clearing the zone and it cost them. They were playing a man down as Kevin Bieksa left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury so fatigue cerrtainly played a part as they all logged extra minutes.

The Canucks had a chance to end this game late in the third with Todd Bertuzzi in the box, but they couldn't even get things set up and Calgary killed the powerplay without much of a threat.

Vancouver was 0-for-5 on the powerplay, which was disapointing as they never really even got any good scoring chances. They weren't as bad as Calgary though, the Flames finished 0-for-7 as the Canucks have yet to allow a powerplay goal this season.
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