For the second straight game Vancouver deployed an even offensive assault as 12 players had at least a point in a 6-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena Friday night.
Mikael Samuelsson scored twice, Jeff Tambellini, Raffi Torres, Alex Burrows and Keith Ballard added singles and seven others picked up assists as the Canucks rolled four lines and rolled over the three time defending Pacific Division champions.
Two nights ago nine players had at least a point in a 4-2 win over Colorado and Vancouver was able to best that effort on offence against San Jose with each trio in on the scoring.
“I think the last couple of games we took some great steps in the right direction,” assessed Roberto Luongo, who was stellar for the second consecutive outing stopping 32 shots for his sixth home win.
“We’re trying to do things the right way and improve as a team and we’re taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes and that’s the type of hockey you want to be playing. Sometimes it’s tough to create chances with the other team playing tight defence, but if we wait them out and take advantage of their mistakes, it’ll be good for us.”
Tambellini got Vancouver on the board 9:32 into the first and San Jose responded with a Dany Heatley goal six minutes later leaving the teams even after 20 minutes.
The game was on silver platter waiting to be snatched up in the second and the Canucks, despite only hitting Antti Niemi with six shots, got goals from Torres and Samuelsson to silence the Sharks.
Another Samuelsson goal midway through the third and the route was on; Burrows and Ballard added late scores leaving a matchup between the Canucks and Sharks decided by more than two goals for the first time in 11 meetings.
The score was ugly, but according to Tambellini it didn’t feel like a wash for the Canucks.
“I don’t think that’s representative of how they played,” said Tambellini. “They’re a tough team to play against, whether you’re up three or up four, they keep coming and their big line is tough to defend every night.”
After outshooting San Jose 15-8 in the first, Vancouver was up against the wall in the second with the Sharks firing 16 pucks at Luongo to six for the Canucks. Withstanding that push from the visitors in the middle frame was what allowed Vancouver to win its 12 game overall and improve to 8-2-1 at Rogers Arena.
“I think we had a bit of a breakdown there in the second period, there was a stretch, but when you play a great team that happens,” said Ballard, who scored his first goal and first point with the Canucks in the win. “They’re going the other way, they’ve got good skill on that side, so Lu was very solid there, especially in the second when he faced a ton of shots and other than that I think we were very solid.”
Ballard’s goal was the icing on the cake and although it came with the Sharks expelling less than premium effort, it came on Ballard’s 28th birthday.
“Considering nobody on the team bought me anything, it’s nice to at least get a goal,” said the birthday boy.
The Canucks have found their secret weapon.
His name is Jeff Tambellini.
The Canucks improved to 7-0-1 with Tambellini in the line-up, they’re now also undefeated at 5-0-0 when he records a point as he did versus San Jose.
Los Angeles’ 27th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft played six of Vancouver’s first 10 games before being sent down to the Manitoba Moose for a 10-game stint, but was recalled on Wednesday and again, he’s doing what he can to be a positive for the Canucks.
Two games, two points for Tambellini. So far, so good.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m just trying to make the most of it,” said Tambellini.
Others have taken notice of the forward’s drive and determination, so much so that Ryan Kesler was vocal in his support of calling up Tambellini earlier in the week.
“Ryan has taken a lot of pride in working with those two young kids,” said coach Alain Vigneault, of Kesler’s time with Tambellini and Mason Raymond on the second line.
“When I told him I was calling up Jeff, he was happy. He had an exhibition game with him, he liked that speed dimension. That's a line that's got a lot of push as far as speed and movement and they're pretty tough to handle.”
The win gives Roberto Luongo at least one on each day of the week this season except Sunday; the San Jose Sharks are celebrating their 20th anniversary, they lost their first franchise game 4-3 to Vancouver on October 4, 1991; Ryan Parent was assigned to the Maniotba Moose Friday.