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Canucks make it two in a row at home

by Brian Compton
A great start and weak finish was enough for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

Playing at GM Place for the second straight night following a 14-game road trip, the Vancouver Canucks fired 20 shots on goal in the first period and none in the third in a 3-1 victory against the Calgary Flames.

Roberto Luongo made 32 saves and Ryan Kesler also scored for the Canucks, who improved to 25-7-1 at home. Vancouver, which is now five points ahead of Colorado in the Northwest Division, is also 6-1-1 in its last eight games.

"Obviously we came out strong," Luongo said after the Canucks were outshot 11-0 in the third period. "And then I don't know what happened, if we tried to protect the lead or what, but we struggled and they took the momentum and fortunately we were able to hold on."

The Canucks chased Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff after the first period. Daniel Sedin scored just 1:13 into the game, and Kesler made it 2-0 just over six minutes later when he one-timed a feed from Alex Burrows past the Calgary goaltender and extended his points streak to 13 games.

"We've talked about this for a long time, but at home you tend to come out a little bit harder and forecheck a little bit harder," Daniel Sedin said. "(Scoring first) makes it easier on us mentally."

Vancouver then capitalized on a two-man advantage, when Henrik Sedin put a rebound past Kiprusoff for his 28th goal of the season.

Henrik Sedin has three goals and seven assists during a five-game streak, and with 93 points has pulled within three of Alex Ovechkin for the NHL scoring lead. Sedin also took over the franchise lead for assists, passing Trevor Linden with his 416th career assist.

"It's really tough to come back in this League," Henrik Sedin said. "We really got our legs going, came out of the gates strong. I don't know if it's the crowd, just being back home, or what it is, but we seem to create a lot of chances early and got the first goal two games in a row."

Kiprusoff, who stopped 17 of 20 shots, was replaced by Vesa Toskala to start the second period. Calgary outshot Vancouver 27-8 the rest of the way, but failed to score until Robyn Regehr spoiled Luongo's shutout bid with 8:10 left.

"Kipper had played one game already," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "Twenty-some shots and 14 or 15 quality scoring chances, the period was completely dominated by Vancouver and I didn't think it was fair to our goaltender to keep him in there."

The loss snapped Calgary's four-game winning streak. The Flames -- who went 0-for-5 on the power play -- also remained a point behind Detroit for the final Western Conference playoff spot as they head into Monday night's showdown against the Red Wings at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"I really don't have words to explain it," Sutter said. "I was shocked to see us play that way in the first period. It tells you exactly what preparation is and they get woken up and play better the last two periods."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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