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Canucks defeat Flames to even series

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com

VANCOUVER -- This time the Vancouver Canucks built on their lead instead of sitting on it against the Calgary Flames.

Daniel Sedin and Chris Higgins ended long playoff scoring droughts in the first period and Eddie Lack made 22 saves to lead the Canucks to a 4-1 win against the Flames in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Arena on Friday.

"We got off to a great start again, like we did last game," said captain Henrik Sedin, who had an assist. "We played a good game again. The difference was we scored a few more. That's why we won."

Rookie Ronalds Kenins scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal early in the third period, Radim Vrbata hit the empty net with 2:01 left and Alexandre Burrows had two assists for the Canucks, who evened the best-of-7 series at one victory apiece.

"We played a full 60 minutes tonight," said rookie Bo Horvat, who drew the penalty that led to Higgins' goal and set up Kenins' goal early in the third period. "We didn't let up at all."

Calgary defenseman Kris Russell, who scored the winning goal with 29.6 seconds left in Game 1, ended Lack's shutout bid with a power-play point shot through a screen with 3:34 left in regulation.

"They outplayed us in the first," Russell said. "You saw the goals they scored, they got a lot of momentum. I thought we slowly clawed our way back. Playoffs you can't take periods off, take shifts off. A bad period lost us the game. We will learn from this."

Calgary hosts Game 3 on Sunday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) and Game 4 on Tuesday. If the end of Game 2 was any indication, the old Canucks-Flames rivalry has heated up again.

Referees Dan O'Halloran and Brad Meier assessed 132 penalty minutes after all five skaters from each team squared off deep in the Canucks' end with 1:17 left to play. The penalty total included three game misconducts for Calgary defenseman Deryk Engelland and one each for Vancouver's Derek Dorsett, Dan Hamhuis and Brad Richardson.

"It was pretty intense. The hard-hitting, the stuff at the end, it was like old-time hockey," Horvat said. "It was a physical game, nobody was holding back and we are expecting the same thing in Game 3 and we're going to have to be prepared."

The win snapped a seven-game playoff losing streak on home ice for the Canucks, who hadn't won at Rogers Arena since Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. It was also the second win in 13 playoff games for Vancouver dating back to that Cup Final.

"That's all generated from media," Hamhuis said. "It's this year that matters. We were down 1-0 and we wanted to tie the series."

It showed early.

Daniel Sedin opened the scoring 2:56 into the first period, and Higgins doubled the lead on a power play four minutes later.

Engelland fell defending a Canucks rush, allowing Henrik Sedin to walk around him and down to the left faceoff dot before passing cross-ice to brother Daniel at the opposite dot. Daniel took the pass and beat Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller over the glove with a wrist shot for his first playoff goal in 13 games, dating to Game 2 of the of the 2011 Final.

Unlike Game 1, when they blew a 1-0 lead in the third period, the Canucks quickly added to their lead on a power play.

Calgary defenseman Dennis Wideman was penalized for knocking a rebound over the glass after Hiller got his shoulder on a good shot from Horvat, and Vancouver's second power-play unit converted.

Defenseman Christopher Tanev made a nice play to keep the play onside at the blue line and Burrows threw the puck at the net to set off a scramble. Higgins shot the rebound between Hiller's legs from the top of the crease for his first playoff goal since Game 2 of the 2011 Western Conference Final, a span of 21 games.

"They were better than us in the first period," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "They had great momentum during the entire game. It was tough to get a good scoring chance on those guys. They deserve the credit."

Lack got into the game after making his fifth save of the night on a screened point shot 7:27 into the second period. The rebound sat loose for a second and as Lack pushed to his right and Calgary forward Brandon Bollig ended up on top of the Canucks goalie as a scramble ensued. Bollig stayed there while other players tried to pull him off. An angry Lack, missing his helmet, got up throwing blocker punches at the backside of the big Flames forward.

"That actually got me into it, to be honest," Lack said. "I felt good after that."

Calgary has 11 wins this season when trailing after two periods, including one in the series opener, but Kenins ended any thoughts of a second straight playoff comeback early in the third. Horvat skated onto a chip down the left wing and circled down near the goal line before passing cross-ice to Kenins for a one-timer past Hiller's glove.

"In the third period we wanted to come out strong, we didn't want to give them anything and that's what we did," Horvat said. "That third goal helped us a lot, gave us a bit of breathing room."

Calgary's Sam Bennett, an 18-year-old rookie who was the Flames' best forward in Game 1, left the game with 5:39 remaining in the second period after a big hit by Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler but returned five minutes into the third.

"He's good. He got bumped," Hartley said of Bennett. "There was no sense at the end of the game that I would expose him."

Calgary forward Michael Ferland was called for charging after a big hit on Tanev, and Sean Monahan and Gaudreau got into a scrum Hamhuis with 4:14 left. Hamhuis was penalized for interference, leading to Russell's goal, but the post-whistle activity continued even after Vrbata's empty-net goal ended the scoring.

"I don't think it was about sending a message," Hartley said. "It was about two teams competing. They have some gritty guys and we have some gritty guys and I don't think that's no big deal."

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