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Canucks bury Ducks early, cruise to 5-2 victory

by Curtis Zupke /
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Vancouver Canucks felt right at home in the Honda Center on Thursday night.

Hundreds, if not thousands of Canucks fans traveled south and were represented in full force. Blue jerseys filled whole sections, and cheers for Vancouver canceled out those for the Anaheim Ducks. Vancouver didn't disappoint them with an authoritative 5-2 victory in front of a standing-room only crowd of 17,544.

"Every time we scored, you could hear it," goaltender Cory Schneider said. "It felt like a home game at times."

Ten Canucks made the scoresheet as Vancouver improved to 2-0 on its California swing and joined Chicago as the only teams to reach the 50-point plateau.

The victory even earned the Canucks a day off before Saturday's game at Los Angeles.

"Manhattan Beach, baby," said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault in reference to the local tony enclave.  "Not coaches, but players."

Daniel Sedin finished off a two-goal performance with 3:58 remaining and twin brother Henrik had a goal and two assists.

The Canucks got goals from three lines, killed five Anaheim power plays, including a 5-on-3 advantage, and won despite getting only one late power play.

"We took some penalties when they were pressuring," said Schneider, who made 30 saves for his eighth win.

"They have so much talent on that power play unit that it's hard to really contain them. We were selling out, blocking shots. We were working hard and even got some shorthanded chances. I thought it was a key part of the game."

While the Ducks might not represent the sternest of tests for the Canucks, Anaheim did take a surprising 4-0 record against Vancouver and San Jose into Thursday. That included a Nov.11 win against Vancouver in which Anaheim almost blew a 4-0 lead.

This time it was Vancouver, coming off a 3-2 victory against San Jose on Wednesday, that jumped to a 4-0 lead.

A big swing occurred about 13 minutes into the second period when Alexander Edler got his stick on Teemu Selanne's backhand try with Vancouver up 3-0. About a minute later Vancouver pounced on Cam Fowler's pass at center ice and Daniel Sedin finished off a 3-on-1 break for a 4-0 lead.

"I thought we came out with a lot of jump and real good execution in the first 20 minutes that really gave us good momentum for the game," Vigneault said. "We were able to capitalize on a couple of their mistakes."

Daniel Sedin's first goal ended the night for Jonas Hiller, who allowed four goals on 16 shots.

Hiller was coming off perhaps his best game under coach Bruce Boudreau, a 36-save performance Monday against San Jose in a 3-2 win.

That Anaheim is not getting anything close to consistency from Hiller is a growing concern. Boudreau said he sensed Hiller was down and replaced him with Dan Ellis, who stopped 14 of 15 shots.

"A lot of times when teams score two goals really quickly, the goalie starts thinking about the previous goal," Boudreau said. "Then all of a sudden another one goes in before they can get their head back into it."

Selanne's attempt was one of several close calls for Anaheim. Bobby Ryan ricocheted a shot off the post and off Schneider late in the second period, but the goaltender gloved the puck before it crossed the goal line.  

"Get the glove over the camera so they can't see," Schneider joked.

Corey Perry was alone in front in the first period but couldn't corral the puck, and he broke in unsuccessfully from the right side in the second period.

Vancouver scored early and late in the first period for a 2-0 lead.

Alexandre Burrows intercepted Toni Lydman's pass behind the goal line and fed Henrik Sedin in the slot for a snap shot past Hiller 71 seconds into the game.

Hiller, who has been quite candid about his club's defensive issues this season, again didn't hold back.

"It's tough right now," Hiller said. "It looks like we're beating ourselves. It's not like they worked harder for those chances. It's like we gave it to them. We are just not competing enough to do our job. You cannot give up those kinds of scoring chances against a top-scoring team."

With 91 seconds to go in the first, Cody Hodgson picked up a loose puck on the right side, shot it through Lydman's feet and beat Lydman to swat home the rebound.

Lydman, among the NHL's plus-minus leaders, had a bad night in a disappointing season.

"I thought the first two goals were a direct fault of his," Boudreau said. "You don't expect that from veteran guys. (But) I think it was the veteran guys that created a lot of the mistakes tonight."

It was Hodgson's eighth goal this season.

"His minutes are important minutes," Vigneault said. "They were huge minutes for us. His line, when they were on the ice, they had some really solid offensive shifts. They created some real good momentum for us."

Anaheim's Saku Koivu missed his eighth straight game with a groin injury.
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