VANCOUVER - Whenever the Vancouver Canucks thought they had some momentum, the Detroit Red Wings snatched it away.
First Detroit erased a 1-0 Canuck lead by tying the game just 12 seconds later. Then the Red Wings scored goals late in the first two periods for a 3-2 victory Sunday night. "When they scored, we scored right after," said Mikael Samuelsson, who had a goal and added an assist as the Red Wings won their fifth consecutive game.
"That was the key tonight. We bounced back right away and they didn't get any momentum going."
Jiri Hudler's pretty goal, with one minute left in the second period, proved to be the winner. Samuelsson scored with 16.2 seconds remaining in the first for a 2-1 lead.
"That was the difference," said Canuck captain Markus Naslund, who tied the game 2-2 at 15:01 of the second. "We can't make mistakes against a high-end skilled team like Detroit."
The Canucks thought they had tied the game with just 28 seconds left. With goaltender Roberto Luongo off for an extra attacker, Taylor Pyatt looked like he had jammed the puck into the net.
Referee Steve Kozari instantly waved the goal off, saying the whistle had blown and goaltender Chris Osgood had been pushed into the net.
"I didn't hear the whistle," said Pyatt. "The puck was there and I thought it should have been a goal."
Osgood, who made 27 saves to keep his record a perfect 5-0 this season, said there's no way the goal should have been allowed.
"I knew right away it wasn't in," said Osgood, making his second start for Dominik Hasek who is out with a hip injury.
"It was between my knees. You can't push me in the net. It wasn't as big a deal as they made it out to be."
The Red Wings flexed their defensive muscle in the third period, limiting Vancouver to just four shots.
"The first two periods we were a little looser than usual in our own end," said Osgood. "We played a real good third, buckled down and didn't give up much at all."
Tomas Holmstrom also scored for the Red Wings, who improved their record to 9-2-1, best in the NHL.
Henrik Zetterberg, the NHL's leading scorer, earned an assist to extend his point streak to 12 games.
Matt Cooke got the other goal for Vancouver, who dropped to 5-7-0. The struggling Canucks are 1-5 in home games this year and 2-5 in their last seven games.
"We have to come out better than we have been at home earlier in games and kind of take it over early," said Naslund.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault criticized his defence, especially Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa, who were on the ice for the first two Detroit goals.
"Obviously those two guys aren't playing at the level we need them to play," said Vigneault. "Willie Mitchell . . . got beat twice. That's not the Willie Mitchell we know as a defensive specialist.
"He's having a tough time and his partner is having a tough time. We need those guys to pick up their play."
Hudler's goal was the backbreaker.
The speedy centre took a pass from Samuelsson at the blue line then raced around defenceman Alexander Edler like he was standing still. He beat Luongo with a shot over the goalie's shoulder.
"I saw him going down," said Hudler. "I just tried to get it up and it worked."
Luongo, who made 29 saves, said the late goals killed his team.
"Those are tough to take in a tight game," he said. "Those are the goals you don't want to be giving up."
The sellout crowd of 18,630 had something to cheer about early when Cooke opened the scoring at 5:48 of the first. The feisty winger was able to take the rebound of a Trevor Linden shot and put it past Osgood.
The cheering stopped a dozen seconds later when Pavel Datsyuk fired a shot that Luongo stopped. Holmstrom was left alone to scoop up a big rebound and put it into the net.
A mistake by Bieksa resulted in Detroit taking the lead in the period's dying seconds.
Bieksa whiffed on a shot attempt, allowing Samuelsson and Valtteri Filppula a two-on-one break. After a couple of pretty passes Samuelsson put the puck behind Luongo.
Notes-Linden's assist on the first goal was his 411th as a Canuck, tying him for the franchise lead with Stan Smyl. ... The Canucks were coming off a four-game road trip where they managed two wins against a pair of losses. ... Canuck defenceman Aaron Miller's last goal was Nov. 27, 2003, when he was a member of the L.A. Kings and scored against Phoenix.