VANCOUVER -- No one should be surprised that it was Daniel Sedin who scored in overtime for the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, but some might be by where his goal has the Canucks.
After blowing three earlier leads, Daniel Sedin converted a cross-ice pass from Henrik Sedin with 54.4 seconds left in overtime to lead the Canucks to a 4-3 win against the Ottawa Senators at Rogers Arena.
Daniel's 12th career overtime goal extended his team record and put the Canucks atop the Western Conference and tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the entire NHL.
It's not a spot many expected Vancouver to be after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time in six years.
"We're showing we are a good team," said Henrik Sedin, who had two assists. "We keep winning games. We find ways to win. It's fun."
It wasn't always pretty against the Senators despite dominating possession and controlling the play for the first two periods.
Shawn Matthias, Alexandre Burrows and Kevin Bieksa scored for the Canucks, who have won eight of their past 10 games. But every time Vancouver pulled ahead, the Senators answered quickly.
The Sedins finally scored a goal Ottawa couldn't answer when Henrik came off the bench and skated onto a pass at the left point. He walked around Clarke MacArthur to the left faceoff dot and fed a pass to Daniel at the bottom of the right faceoff circle for a one-timer past the glove of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.
"I had no idea he was over there and I came out go challenge on the right side and when he makes that pass I am expecting something in the slot, not something in the corner," said Anderson, who made 33 saves. "Perfect shot too. He goes bar-in and you have to tip your hat to these guys sometimes, they are good hockey players."
Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris and Mark Stone scored for the Senators, who have lost three straight for the first time this season but picked up points in two of them (0-1-2).
"There are positives to take out of this moving forward, but it's a lot nicer playing with the lead than chasing it," said Turris, who also had an assist playing in his hometown. "We have to work on that."
Coach Paul MacLean also focused on the positives.
"Our execution with the puck wasn't what it needed to be but at the end of the day we got some big goals out of [Curtis] Lazar's line and another one from Turris' group," he said. "So hard-fought after tough travel to get out here and to come away with a point, although we're not real pleased with the effort, we're pleased with the point."
Coming off a four-game road trip in which they went 3-1-0 but lost four regulars, the Canucks carried the play early, outshooting Ottawa 12-3 through the first 15 minutes and forcing Anderson to make a handful of good saves. With all the injuries and a couple of American Hockey League call-ups in the lineup, Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins didn't play his fourth line nearly as much as he has most of the season, but still got a goal from each of his top three lines.
Daniel Sedin played a season high 23:13 (exactly four minutes above his season average coming in) but credited the renewed commitment to a balanced attack for a 12-5-0 start.
"The going into the third it's like you haven't played 40 minutes of hockey," Sedin said. "You are feeling fresher. You can tell the other team is starting to get tired. Mentally that means a lot as a team."
Despite a lot of time in their own end early, Anderson felt Ottawa did a good job of limiting the Canucks' quality chances.
"There was a few times they had the best of us but we did a pretty job keeping them to the outside and allowing them to more or less tire themselves out," Anderson said. "Protecting the middle and not allowing them free chances and letting them keep cycling and cycling, it tired everybody out but we really didn't give them much."
Matthias opened the scoring 6:13 into a wild second period after getting around defenseman Mark Borowiecki and tucking it between Anderson's legs with a backhand-to-forehand move.
Ottawa tied it less than four minutes later after a consecutive tough saves by Anderson at the other end. On the ensuing rush, Lazar, who used to make the four-hour drive from his hometown to watch the Canucks growing up, corralled a dump-in along the right boards and threw the puck towards the net. The rebound bounced off Miller's right pad to an unchecked Hoffman for an easy tap-in.
Vancouver restored the lead with 3:43 left in the second period when Bonino fed Burrows a nice cross-crease pass on a 2-on-1 down low, but Turris tied it with two minutes left in the period.
The Canucks hit the post twice in the next 17 seconds, but took the lead again 5:36 into the third period when Bieksa's point shot bounced in off the leg of Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba.
Again, it didn't last long.
The Senators had two great chances to tie the game on the next shift, and did over three minutes later off the rush. Turris' low shot off a rush went off Miller's left pad and right to Stone, who was cutting hard to the net unchecked and chipped it up and over the goalie.
Henrik Sedin lamented the Canucks' inability to get a two-goal lead.
"We had a lot of puck possession and time in their end but sometimes you overdo things," he said. "You try that extra play or you don't do the work in front to get that extra goal. If we had scored a second one they would have been done. But they kept coming back."
But Daniel Sedin finally scored a goal that couldn't be answered, putting the Canucks ahead for good and atop the NHL standings.
"It's nice to touch that threshold," said Miller, who finished with 21 saves for his League-leading 11th win. "It's a nice little checkpoint to say we got there. We've got to keep working as a group to get better throughout the year. It's about being there in the end."