What a quack.
The prescription looked good on paper, but Vancouver, despite holding a pair of leads in its first road game of the season, dropped a 4-3 decision to Anaheim at the Honda Center.
Daniel Sedin, Raffi Torres and Christian Ehrhoff scored for the Canucks, who led 2-1 after the first and 3-2 less than six minutes into the third before a pair of Ducks goals from Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan pushed the previously winless Ducks to their first victory of the year.
Anaheim came into this contest with a league-worst 0-3-0 record having been outscored 13-2 and outshot 145-72 – an average of 48 shots against per game, much to the displeasure of goaltender Jonas Hiller. Vancouver ensured Hiller remained the busiest netminder in the NHL with another 39 shots against, yet the Canucks couldn’t capitalize on golden scoring chances in the third period.
Case in point: Mikael Samuelsson’s missed opportunity that the Ducks turned into a tie game.
Midway through the third with the Canucks ahead 3-2 and pushing for more, a broken play led to a wide open net for Samuelsson from 10 feet out. He rifled the shot wide left and the puck hugged the boards allowing Ryan to pick it up and coasted the length of the ice before getting it to Ryan Getzlaf, who set up Perry for the equilizer with one of his three assists on the night.
Getzlaf had four points, while Ryan and Perry combined for three as Anaheim’s top line came to life.
Although the Sedins each had a point for the third consecutive contest, this game was plagued by botched chances for the Canucks and that included the top trio.
“We have to relax out there,” said Daniel Sedin, who passed Thomas Gradin for fifth on Vancouver’s all-time scoring list with two points vs. Anaheim. “We were probably squeezing our sticks a little bit too much and that can happen at the beginning of the season. I think we need to play more relaxed and we’ll be fine, we have a lot of talent on this team.”
After surrendering only two goals on 74 shots in two games to open the season, Canucks keeper Roberto Luongo allowed four goals on 32 shots to the Ducks, including one power play score. Vancouver went 2-for-3 with the man advantage.
Pundits scoffed at a few of Vancouver’s off-season signings, including bringing in Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres.
In the first period alone the duo surely turned a few doubters into believers.
Both Malhotra and Torres opened the game with unprecedented energy, a major reason the Canucks were able to climb out of a 1-0 hole with a pair of goals 17 seconds apart.
Prior to Anaheim opening the scoring on the power play, Vancouver was forced to kill off a lengthy 5-on-3 in which Malhotra created a great scoring chance with a shorthanded rush down the ice.
Malhotra used that same quickness to draw a penalty on Ryan late in the frame when he stole the puck in the Anaheim zone forcing Ryan to hook him to prevent a scoring chance.
“We were excited coming out tonight and we realized the task ahead of us,” said Malhotra of the hot start. “They’re obviously not too happy about the start of their season out there and they came out with a gritty performance and I think we did a good job of matching that intensity.”
Intensity is Torres’ middle name, or at least it was in his third game with Vancouver.
Torres opened the scoring for Vancouver by re-directing a Dan Hamhuis point shot through the legs of Hiller for his 99th career NHL goal, first as a Canuck and first since February 14 of last season in a 5-4 overtime loss to Chicago as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
More than just deft hands, Torres took a run at and dropped the gloves with Sheldon Brookbank a few shifts after scoring following a Brookbank hit from behind on Peter Schaefer at the Vancouver blueline. Call it a draw, but Torres got points for standing up for Schaefer. He also got 17 penalty minutes for it, moving him into top spot in that category for the Canucks and ninth overall in the league.
Keith Ballard played in his 400th NHL game on the night; Rick Rypien returned to the line-up after suffering an upper-body injury in Vancouver’s first pre-season game; Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff led the Canucks in shots with six each.