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Game 53: Five Alive

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
For a Canucks team that has struggled to score goals lately, Sunday night's offensive explosion was a sight for sore eyes. But what was even greater sight for the fans at Rogers Arena to behold was the Canucks picking up a rare victory over a Pacific Division foe not from Alberta.

Kevin Bieksa scored twice, including the game-winner at 2:15 of overtime, to lift the Canucks to a 5-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins and Zac Dalpe also had goals for Vancouver, who improved to 1-1-0 on their current four-game home stand and have now won three of their last four games.

The win was just the Canucks' third in 15 games against Pacific Division teams not counting the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames.

Antoine Vermette scored three times while Shane Doan added a single in a losing effort for the Coyotes.

The only downside on this night for the Canucks was the fact they allowed the Coyotes to walk away with one point - something that could have been avoided had it not been for a few defensive lapses.

Vancouver twice enjoyed two-goal leads in this game only to watch Phoenix battle back each time and force overtime before Bieksa's heroics finally put the desert dogs away for good. Roberto Luongo stopped 29 of 33 shots in the victory while Mike Smith made just 20 saves on 25 shots in the defeat.

The Canucks have little time to enjoy this victory as they are right back in action on Monday night when they host the Oilers.

Despite putting up five goals in the game the Canucks' power play continued its struggles on Sunday going 0-for-4, including failing to score on a lengthy 4-on-3 opportunity early in the overtime session, while also surrendering a shorthanded goal to boot. Vancouver's man-advantage has scored just twice in its last nine outings going 2-for-34 during that stretch (5.9 percent).

TOP DOG: Antoine Vermette became the first Coyote to ever record a hat-trick against the Canucks although he's not the first member of that franchise to score three versus Vancouver. The only other member of the Jets/Coyotes franchise to score three goals in a game versus Vancouver is Ray Neufeld, who managed to feat back on November 1, 1987 in a 7-3 victory for Winnipeg. Vermette is the second player to score a hat-trick against the Canucks this season. The first was New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider back on November 30.

NOTES AND NUMBERS: Kevin Bieksa's two-goal game equaled his personal career-high set back on April 10, 2010 against the Flames. The overtime goal was also the first in his NHL career in regular season play... The five goals the Canucks scored on Sunday is the most since their six-goal effort against the Bruins back on December 14... Jannik Hansen's goal was his first in 12 games and also snapped a seven-game point drought... The Canucks dressed seven defencemen with Yannick Weber taking the spot of forward David Booth, who was a healthy scratch... The Coyotes earned a single point for their overtime loss giving their head coach, Dave Tippett, 412 in his career behind Phoenix's bench to move him into sole possession of first place on the all-time points list ahead of Bob Francis (411).

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