Jannik Hansen scored and added an assist to help the Vancouver Canucks extend their winning streak over the Toronto Maple Leafs to eight games with a 4-1 drubbing of the Leafs Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks have not lost to the Maple Leafs since November 24, 2003 - a span of 2,577 days and counting.
Canucks fans have Hansen to thank for that as he notched the game-winning goal with 2:06 remaining in the second period and set up Christian Ehrhoff for Vancouver’s third goal, the insurance marker, 14:57 into the third.
While Hansen started the game alongside Raffi Torres and Manny Malhotra, he was bumped up the second line to flank Ryan Kesler and Jeff Tambellini midway through the second period.
For that, play of the game goes to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.
“I felt Jannik was skating well tonight and getting to loose pucks and getting pucks behind their D, so halfway through the game I made that switch and it worked out for us,” explained Vigneault.
While the pace of the game varied throughout because of the rare 4 p.m. start, Hansen was consistent throughout, providing the spark Vancouver needed to improve to 8-1-1 in its last 10 games.
“I felt good lately and have had a lot of opportunities, it’s just a matter of putting them away,” said Hansen, fresh off his first game-winner of the season and the sixth of his career.
“When you get a chance to play with good guys, you end up getting chances and that’s what happened.”
Hansen and Tambellini, who had an assist and has at least a point in nine of 16 games, both benefited from playing with Kesler, the man with a bull’s-eye on his back after picking up his first career hat trick a game ago.
With Kesler tied up, open ice was plentiful for Hansen and Tambellini.
“He’s playing extremely well right now and it seems like teams are paying attention to him a little more when he’s out there, so obviously you’re going to get a little more room,” said Hansen.
Roberto Luongo stopped 27 shots for his 15th win of the season and eighth victory in his last nine starts.
NHL debut. Saturday night. Hockey Night in Canada. Toronto Maple Leafs.
Aaron Volpatti will have a tough time toping that.
The 25-year-old native of Revelstoke, BC, made his NHL debut Saturday night, on Hockey Night in Canada, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dream come true on every front.
“You don’t want to get too nervous out there and I felt alright after the first shift there, I had a couple hits and that got me into it,” said Volpatti, who had six assists and 44 penalty minutes in 26 games with the Manitoba Moose prior to being called up earlier this week. “It was everything I expected and more and it was good we got the win, it just made everything that much better.”
Before the game had even started Volpatti knew he was in for a treat with fans from both teams stirring it up in the stands to create an electric atmosphere in Rogers Arena.
Go Leafs Go and Go Canucks Go went back and forth all night, but in the end Canucks faithful gave Vancouver the edge with their rousing support.
“It was crazy,” laughed Volpatti. “Walking through the tunnel to start the first period was a bit of a surreal feeling because you always see that kind of stuff on TV and then to be a part of it was great. That crowd was great.”
Volpatti and the Canucks will now hit the road for three games in four nights starting Monday in St. Louis; a grueling trip to some, Volpatti can’t wait to take off.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a good Christmas present.”
Daniel Sedin extended his point streak to 10 games with a first period assist on Alex Burrows’ sixth goal; Kevin Bieksa picked up two assists to give him five this season and first since November 2nd in a three-assist effort against the Edmonton Oilers; six players had at least three hits for the Canucks, including Tambellini, Glass, Edler, Hansen, Alberts and Bolduc.