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Canucks show no rust in blanking Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Vancouver Canucks didn't skip a beat after taking a week off.

Eddie Lack made 18 saves for his second career shutout and the Canucks returned to action after a seven-day Christmas break by beating the Calgary Flames 2-0 on Sunday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Jannik Hansen scored late in the first period and Lack made the goal stand up until Mike Santorelli added some insurance with 2:16 left in regulation.

"Of course you want to get back at it," Hansen said of the long break. "The game is a little different than we're used to when you're playing every other night. We got a long break, but the points are just as important as they are in late March and early April and these points are going to stick with us to the end.

"If you look at the standings, it's extremely tight. If you're not stringing wins together you're not going anywhere. We've played a tremendous December and we're still fourth in our division. It takes a lot of wins and it takes a team effort to get them on a nightly basis."

Since returning from their break, the Flames have been shut out in back-to-back home games. After scoring at least once in their first 33 games, the Flames have been shut out three times in their past six. They've won just three times in their past 10 as well.

"It gets very frustrating out there, but we have to do a better job of keeping our emotions in check and we've got to generate more," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "We're not generating enough, and when we are, it seems like it's not going in right now. We have to find a way to get an ugly one and get going."

Due to a quirk in the schedule, the Canucks had a full week between games sandwiched around the Christmas break. It didn't take them long to return to form and win for the 10th time in 12 games.

And though he missed most of warm-ups receiving "five or six" stitches after a puck off the post hit him in the ear, Henrik Sedin didn't miss Hansen behind the Flames' defense to help Vancouver open the scoring.

After Giordano's shot was blocked before it got to Lack, Sedin corralled the puck and found Hansen streaking through the neutral zone with a saucer pass he bobbled before ripping a shot by the blocker of Reto Berra with 39.7 seconds left before intermission.

"He took off and I was going to give it to him right away, then I was going to throw it off the end boards," Henrik said. "The third option worked out. It was a lucky bounce a little bit for him but it was a great shot."

"It's a tremendous play," Hansen said. "He's finding seams and holes that not a lot of players can do in this League and if you're open, it's going to get there."

The goal came on the Canucks' 13th and final shot of the period. Calgary managed just two and failed to put a puck on Lack until Mike Cammalleri's opportunity from the faceoff dot at 13:02.

The lopsided total was aided by Vancouver's five-minute power play after Calgary forward Brian McGrattan was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for elbowing defenseman Andrew Alberts 2:43 into the game. Alberts didn't return.

"It was an ugly incident," Hansen said. "You definitely don't want to see a guy go down like that."

The Flames mustered six shots in the second period and showed a little more life.

Just 1:41 in, Mikael Backlund took a drop pass in the slot from Cammalleri and wired a puck into Lack's chest. Joe Colborne also tested the Canucks goaltender, bursting by Jason Garrison down his off wing before driving to the net. Lack's goal line stand kept Colborne and the Flames at bay through 40 minutes.

Berra, who finished with 28 saves, did the same at the other end.

Facing another 11 pucks, Berra frustrated the Canucks while Calgary slowly started to find their legs. His best stop came off Daniel Sedin with 6:41 remaining; he denied Daniel's three whacks to push the puck past his pad and over the goal line.

Lack stopped 10 shots in the third period. He got his paddle on TJ Galiardi's spinning backhander from the slot at 5:32 and headed away another Galiardi chance 2 1/2 minutes later.

The saves paved the way for Santorelli's ninth of the season, a quick shot past Berra after a feed by Ryan Kesler on a 2-on-1 break.

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