The Canucks have Dan Hamhuis to thank for bringing that streak to an end.
With the Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes in overtime tied at 3-3 playing four-on-four hockey, Daniel and Henrik performed their usual Sedinery working their way into the opposing zone with blind backhand passes the norm. After four exchanges, Henrik ended up with the puck behind the Coyotes net and as Hamhuis circled after cutting in from the point, he was hit with a perfect pass that he fired a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov.
It was just like they draw it up in practice. Alright, maybe not, but Hamhuis’ second goal of the game was nearly a carbon copy of his first, except it was Mikael Samuelsson setting him up for a one-timer.
Either way, the Canucks improved to 1-7-4 when trailing after the first period to beat the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Vancouver wins for the third time in as many games to open a five-game road trip.
Hamhuis’ first two-goal game of his career and first two-point game of the season moves him to 20 points (6-14-20) on the year; he’s now had at least 20 points in every NHL season played. Hamhuis doesn’t elicit nightmares offensively, but he’s a clutch scorer with nine of his 38 career goals counting as game-winners.
“It was kind of back and forth, I think we carried the play in the first bit and then they took it over, but it was a good showing by us,” said Hamhuis, on Vancouver’s league-leading 43rd win of the year.
Much to the chagrin of the piles of Canucks fans representing the blue and green in Phoenix making it feel like a home game for Vancouver for the third consecutive outing, the Coyotes held a 1-0 lead early and doubled it midway through the first period.
Hamhuis was quick to respond to get Vancouver on the board and back-to-back Canucks goals 3:03 apart from Henrik Sedin and Sami Salo midway through the second – the former goal on the power play – gave the visitors a 3-2 edge until Phoenix evened the game at 3-3 with just 43 seconds left in the frame.
Roberto Luongo and Bryzgalov combined for 15 saves in the third forcing overtime and before Hamhuis could play hero, it looked as though Alex Burrows would net the golden goal.
Picking off a puck from Eric Belanger at centre ice, Burrows scooted towards the Phoenix goal early in overtime. The Canucks forward was around Michal Rozsival in a flash before Belanger dragged Burrows down and into the Coyotes goal. As the ref signaled for a penalty shot, Burrows decided on going backhand with his deke, which proved unsuccessful as he missed the net wide right.
That set the stage for Hamhuis’ first game-winner since November 14, 2008, in a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, as a member of the Nashville Predators.
“We stuck with it and we didn’t change our game,” said Henrik Sedin, following a three-point effort. “I think a lot of times when we’ve been down this year we tried to force things and that’s when we open it up even more. But we stuck with it and it’s good.”
Captain Sedin took some heat following Vancouver’s 3-0 loss to the Predators before hitting the road for stating that he thought it was his team’s best outing in three or four weeks. Turns out Henrik was spot on as the Canucks are 3-0-0 since that game and on this night they topped three goals for the first time in eight road games.
“I thought so at the time,” said Henrik of his comments on March 3rd. “I felt the urgency on the team and we played a lot better defensively. A lot of people looked at the loss and didn’t think the same, but I felt our team played a lot better and I think we’re seeing that lately.”
With Mason Raymond out of Vancouver’s line-up with an undisclosed injury, Jeff Tambellini was bumped up to the second line alongside Ryan Kesler and Michael Samuelsson for the first time in a long time.
Entrenched in a 27-game goalless drought coming in, Tambellini came close to scoring for the first time since December 28, 2010, but he couldn’t pull the trigger – story of his life right now.
Still, the forward took it for what it was worth that coach Alain Vigneault promoted him to fill the vacancy.
“That was my plan when I came in this summer that I could be the guy that plays left wing, right wing or centre, whatever they need I can jump in and do the job,” said Tambellini, who has nine goals and eight assists in 49 games.
“It was nice to get a chance to play with Kesler and Samuelsson tonight, two of our top offensive guys, nice to get a couple of shifts with those guys.”
Tambellini may not be scoring, but he’s doing something right as the Canucks are 30 games above .500 with him in the line-up at 36-6-7.
His ferocious nature is one attribute Vancouver can always count on and he displayed it when asked if these games down the stretch are becoming meaningless for the playoff bound Canucks.
“We have major goals on this team, we want to finish at the top for home ice along the way and hopefully in June it makes a big difference. Plus we want to be going in on a roll. These points are just as big for us as for the teams chasing.”
Henrik Sedin’s three point night moved into a tie with Steven Stamkos for second in NHL scoring, five points back of leader Daniel Sedin; the Canucks are 11-4-2 versus the Pacific Division this season; Victor Oreskovich was recalled from the Manitoba Moose Monday, he filled in for Tambellini on Vancouver’s fourth line against the Coyotes.