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Canucks stay alive by edging Flames

by Kevin Woodley /

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks avoided elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by playing their best game against the Calgary Flames. Now they need to do it two more times.

Daniel Sedin scored the go-ahead goal 1:47 into the third period to lead the Canucks to a 2-1 win against the Flames in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Arena on Thursday.

"These are fun games to be a part of," he said. "It's do or die, and we played probably our best game of the series."

Sedin said a mixture of patience and increased desperation led to the win. The added desperation helped the Canucks outshoot Calgary 43-21. The patience enabled them to stick with a game plan of getting pucks to the net even after falling behind early, and even though it wasn't paying off for long stretches against Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller.

"We didn't get away from our game plan," Daniel Sedin said. "I thought we stuck with it even though they scored the first goal. We kept going at them and shooting the puck and got a little bit more guys in front of the net and it paid off in the end."

It finally paid off after an icing against the Flames early in the third period. Henrik Sedin won the offensive-zone faceoff and defenseman Dan Hamhuis skated the puck into the corner before firing a sharp-angled shot at Jonas Hiller, who made the save. But the rebound went off Daniel Sedin and under Hiller's left pad for his second goal of the playoffs, breaking a 1-1 tie.

"It hit my stick, but not much. I was fortunate," Daniel said. "We've been trying different faceoff plays, and it paid off at the right time. It's still luck to get the rebound, but at least we're there. If you do it enough times I think it is going to pay off."

Nick Bonino tied the game with 6:29 left in the second period for the Canucks, who still trail the best-of-7 series 3-2 heading back to Calgary for Game 6 on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Daniel Sedin doesn't expect the Canucks to change a game plan he thinks may finally be wearing down the Flames.

"I think you just keep shooting," he said. "We knew before this series started it was going to be a long series, and hopefully we can make it into a seven-game series then we know it's going to pay off. They have to get tired of all the zone time and shots and protecting down low. It should pay off, but it's a new game on Saturday."

Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller made 20 saves in his first start of the playoffs; he took over for Eddie Lack after the first period of a 3-1 loss in Game 4 on Tuesday. Miller, who had played five periods since spraining his right knee two months ago, got help from his goal posts on a couple of occasions but made his best save of the third period on a Calgary power play nine minutes in, getting his left arm on Joe Colborne's shot from the slot.

"You just have to go out there and give it your best," Miller said of not being 100 percent physically. "My mindset was I can still battle, I can still give 100 percent of my commitment in my mind and my focus. There were some times I had to fight through it."

David Jones scored early and Hiller made 41 saves for the Flames, who are trying to win a playoff series for the first time since 2004, when lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"We know they are not just going to go away easy," Hiller said. "They played their best game. We weren't able to match that. But we've proven we always find a way to step it up to get better and hopefully with the home crowd we'll be able to finish it off."

The Canucks are trying to overcome a 3-1 series deficit for the fourth time in franchise history. That includes a comeback against Calgary in the first round of 1994, a run that ended in a trip to the Final.

It didn't look good early.

Jones, a North Vancouver native who scored the tying goal in the third period of Calgary's Game 1 win, opened the scoring after a Canucks turnover 2:40 into the first period. With the most of the Canucks exiting the zone, defenseman Alexander Edler's pass went off the skate of forechecking Flames forward Matt Stajan and caromed right to Jones, who was alone in the left slot. Jones gloved the puck down to his stick and quickly fired it past the glove of Miller on the short side, off the post and in.

Calgary had a chance to double the lead on a power play just over one minute later, but defenseman Dennis Wideman hit the post on the Flames' best chance and puck was cleared from behind Miller.

"We had a great start and scored off a great forecheck," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "And we had a couple chances to get that big second goal and then that's the game. We can't use this as an excuse. We're not an organization that goes on excuses. They were desperate and they're a great team. We saw once again that the Sedins are world-class players."

The Canucks stuck with their game plan.

"I didn't sense any panic on the bench and I don't know if that's a sign of a veteran team or a sign of a team that knows we can get back in games," Daniel Sedin said of falling behind early. "We've done that throughout the year and throughout the lineup."

Bonino finally tied it with a perfect shot after a good forecheck. Vrbata got the puck behind the net to Bonino at the left faceoff dot, and his one-timer beat Hiller high over the blocker just inside the far corner.

"We were pressing all period," Bonino said. "I think that goal started 10 minutes before that with every line rolling over. I was the one to get it, but it started earlier and definitely felt pretty good."

Calgary pressured after Sedin put the Canucks ahead, but couldn't take advantage of two power plays. After scoring three power-play goals in Games 3 and 4 in Calgary, the Flames managed only Colborne's shot on their two third-period advantages.

"We're happy with our PK," Bonino said. "It got us to where we are, and when we needed it most guys stepped up and made big clears, Miller was good back there and we got the job done."

The Flames have two more chances to finish the job, but forward Mikael Backlund wants no part of a return to Vancouver for Game 7 on Monday.

“There’s no way we’re losing at home,” Backlund said.

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