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Canucks blank Hurricanes for fifth straight win

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella wasn't worried about settling down his rookie goaltender, Eddie Lack, before his first NHL start in front of the home crowd at Rogers Arena.

For Tortorella, Lack is the one that provides a calming influence.

Light-shooting defenseman Christopher Tanev scored early in the first period, and Lack made 31 saves for his first NHL shutout in his first start at home to lead the Canucks to a 2-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.

"The thing I like most about Eddie is just his presence. I think he settles the team down," Tortorella said. "There's not a lot of extra movement in his game. He doesn't get rattled."

Not even playing in front of home fans for the first time.

"I wouldn't say I was nervous," Lack said. "It was more excitement."

Lack needed to stay calm until Jannik Hansen scored into an empty net with 1:15 left. Chris Higgins had two assists for the Canucks, who have won five straight games for the first time this season despite playing on consecutive nights and three times in four days.

"It's a tired team and they found a way to get through," Tortorella said.

Lack certainly wasn't tired.

The 25-year-old hadn't played since a 3-2 win in Carolina eight days earlier, but made 11 stops in the first period and his best saves late in the second.

Lack stuffed Riley Nash on a sharp-angle net drive then pushing across to get a glove on Patrick Dwyer's rebound attempt from the low slot. He added a similar stop on a Tuomo Ruutu rebound chance early in the third period, and stuffed an Eric Staal redirection in tight with four minutes left.

Tortorella credited Lack for "key saves" on a "couple deflections" in the third, but the goalie passed it back to his teammates for letting him see the puck most of the night.

"The guys did an unbelievable job," Lack said.

The bubbly, always-smiling Swede, said it was "funny" that Tanev, who has four goals in 125 NHL games, scored for him. They lived together during Lack’s three American Hockey League seasons.

"I'm happy for him," Tanev said. "I've known him for four year now. He's an awesome guy and it's an incredible moment for him."

It spoiled a good night for fellow backup Justin Peters. Playing the first half of back-to-back games ahead of No.1 Cam Ward, Peters finished with 24 saves for the Hurricanes, who had their season-high win streak snapped at three games.

"I think as a team we deserved a better fate," said Peters, who has played three of the past four. "We played the right way, we had some chances. Just give credit to their team and Lack was playing well."

After being forced to make a sprawling save off Jiri Tlusty on a rebound at the side of the net in the opening minutes, Lack was in control the rest of the way, catching more than half a dozen pucks.

"His rebound control was really good," Peters said. "Everything was sticking to him. Our whole mentality is to try to get shots to the net and we are going to get rebounds and we are going to get second and third opportunities, but there wasn't many of those."

Carolina coach Kirk Muller thought his team made it too easy on Lack.

"We wanted to get more traffic in front," he said. "We got some pucks to the net, but he saw a lot of them so we didn't get the screen and tip plays we were hoping for. He saw a lot of those shots and he's a big goalie, so he's going to make those saves."

Tanev scored his second goal of the season 3:35 in, beating Peters, who was screened by his own defenseman, low on the blocker side with a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle.

"There was a lane where I could step up and shoot it," Tanev said. "There was a guy coming at me and there was a guy in front of the goalie, so I just tried to get it by the guy coming at me."

Lack took care of the rest.

He made a good stop on a spinning shot off the right wing by Jeff Skinner, who was named the NHL's First Star for scoring five goals last week, early in the second period, and gloved his slap shot on a power play 19 seconds into the third.

Not be outdone, Peters, who came in with a .922 save percentage, kept it close with a handful of great saves in the first period.

"Peters did his part," Muller said.

The game started with an ovation from the Rogers Arena crowd for Manny Malhotra, who played parts of three seasons for the Canucks before being shut down by management over concerns about his vision and safety on the ice early last season.

"It's a very special place to play, these are incredibly passionate fans, it was a privilege to play in front of them for three years and I was grateful for that ovation, it was pretty special," Malhotra said.

He was less happy the night ended with chants for Lack.

"We felt we carried the play for most of the game, we were effective getting pucks in deep, getting sustained pressure on them, but Lack saw a lot of pucks tonight," he said. "We need to do a better job being in the goalie's eyes and battling in front of their net. When a goalie sees pucks, he is going to make saves."

Lack not only made them, he made most of them look easy.

"First home game, I thought he handled himself tremendously," Tortorella said.

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