VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ The Vancouver Canucks were tired of
hearing how bad their power play was, so they made it click at just the right
Brendan Morrison scored the last of four power-play goals and Vancouver beat
the Calgary Flames 5-3 Wednesday night in their playoff opener.
The Canucks came in with the worst power play in the playoffs at 15.1
percent after converting just four of 53 chances in their final 16 games. But
they scored on their first two opportunities and finished 4-for-6.
``You guys were complaining about it so much we figured we'd do something
about it,'' said Morrison, who added two assists. ``We kept it simple. We
played with a lot of confidence on the power play, which makes a big
Martin Rucinsky, Sami Salo and Henrik Sedin also scored on the power play
and Mattias Ohlund added a goal during a delayed penalty.
``Our power play was not going all that well at the end, but now in the
playoffs it's clicking,'' said Dan Cloutier, who made the best of his 26 saves
while killing off eight of 10 power plays.
Vancouver has won seven straight, dating to the regular season, after
winning just once in seven games after star forward Todd Bertuzzi was suspended
throughout the playoffs for punching Colorado's Steve Moore.
That late push lifted the Canucks to the Northwest Division title and the
No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
It's a big difference from last season, when the Canucks lost the division
on the final day of the regular season and were beaten 6-0 by St. Louis in the
``It's a good win for us,'' said captain Markus Naslund, who had three
assists. ``We wanted to get the first win at home early and not have the kind
of stuff we had last year when we lost the first one.''
The Canucks, who will host Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Friday night.
Chris Simon and Oleg Saprykin both had power-play goals, and Krzystof Oliwa
also scored for the Flames, making their first playoff appearance in eight
``Some of our players played a very nervous perimeter game and they are top
players. They can't play that game,'' Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said.
Miikka Kiprusoff, who set a modern-day NHL record with a 1.69 goals-against
average this season, made 17 saves and allowed more than two goals for just the
seventh time in 39 games.
``He's had a great season and that was a goal to try and get traffic in
front. We did a good job,'' Morrison said.
Vancouver scored following consecutive penalties to Ville Nieminen early in
the first period. Kiprusoff stopped Rucinsky on a breakaway 2:26 in, but
Rucinsky tipped in Ed Jovanovski's point shot eight seconds later.
Salo doubled the lead less than three minutes later, one-timing a slap shot
past Kiprusoff with Jovanovski and Rucinsky providing a screen in front.
The Flames, whose regular-season power play was one percentage point better
than the Canucks' mark, tied it with a pair of man-advantage goals 28 seconds
apart early in the middle period.
Already short-handed, the Canucks were whistled for too many men on the ice.
Simon converted the two-man advantage six seconds later after the puck took a
funny hop off the glass behind Cloutier.
Cloutier looked to his right, but the puck was on the left side and Simon
tapped it in.
Saprykin tied it at 5:06, but Sedin put the Canucks ahead for good at 12:47
with a goal that bounced in off the skate of Calgary defenseman Jordan Leopold.
Ohlund scored with 2:09 left in the second, and Morrison made it 5-2 at 5:26
of the third.
``Things can change quickly in these types of games and we've learned that
over the past couple of years,'' Morrison said.
Oliwa scored on a deflection 50 seconds later, but the Flames failed to
record a shot during a lengthy five-on-three power play with six minutes left.
Calgary was 2-for-10 with the extra attacker.
``We all feel in our dressing room that we're a lot better team than that
and we're going to play a lot better than that,'' Flames captain Jarome Iginla
said. ``It's playoff time.''