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Hamhuis gets overtime winner for Canucks

by Jerry Brown
GLENDALE, Ariz. – After treading water for the better part of a month, the Vancouver Canucks are again riding a wave of victories -- with the Phoenix Coyotes the latest team left in their wake.

The Canucks wiped out an early 2-0 deficit Tuesday night with three unanswered goals, then won 4-3 on Dan Hamhuis' second goal of the game with 2:47 left in overtime. It was their third win in four days on the road against possible first-round opponents in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin combined for six points as Vancouver - which won at Los Angeles and Anaheim before beating the Coyotes at Arena -- improved to an NHL-best 95 points and shook off a 12-game stretch that saw them alternate wins and losses with three straight wins to begin a five-game road trip.

"We talked about how .500 hockey wasn't good enough for our club and we've turned it up," said defenseman Sami Salo, whose second-period goal capped Vancouver's comeback and gave the Canucks their first lead at 3-2. "The last five or six games, we've adopted a playoff mentality. We're playing a lot of desperate teams and the last three games we've found a way to win. That's huge in preparing for the playoffs."

Vancouver had a great chance to win just 36 seconds into overtime when Alexandre Burrows was taken down from behind by Eric Belanger and awarded a penalty shot. But Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov closed off the right post and Burrows was unable to get his backhander on net.

However, that only delayed the outcome. Both Sedins set up Hamhuis for his game-winner -- a shot from the left circle that beat Bryzgalov to the far side. The goal denied the Coyotes a back-to-back sweep of the top two teams in the Western Conference after they rallied to beat Detroit 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday.

But Phoenix gained a point to move into a three-way tie with Dallas and Calgary for the fifth, sixth and seventh spots in the West. The Flames visit Dallas on Wednesday before coming to Arizona on Thursday.

"We had a good, strong effort and we found a way to get a point," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "There was a couple of mistakes made here or there, but no lack of effort whatsoever. (Vancouver) has the best record in the League for a reason."

Belanger had a goal and a pair of assists for the Coyotes, who also got goals from Shane Doan and Lauri Korpikoski. Daniel Sedin had 3 assists to pad his NHL lead in scoring with 84 points, while Henrik Sedin had a goal his League-best 62nd and 63rd assists of the season.

The Coyotes played without forwards Martin Hanzal and Ray Whitney and defenseman Derek Morris -- all out with lower body injuries. They lost another defenseman in the second period when Rostislav Klesla had a Daniel Sedin shot ride up his stick and hit him in the face.

And with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the building to talk about the team's uncertain future in Arizona, the Coyotes played well before a crowd of 12,843.

"To say you don't know what's going on or you're oblivious to it would be totally false because everyone knows what's going on," Tippett said. "There has been a lot of talk about (the future) lately, and our players continue to do a great job of blocking it out and not letting it affect their games."

Phoenix came out of the gate strong. Just 3:27 into the game, Belanger capitalized on a turnover by Salo and beat goalie Roberto Luongo for his 10 th goal of the season. When Belanger set up Doan for a power-play blast from the point at 10:55, the Coyotes had a quick 2-0 lead.

But the Canucks never blinked, pouring in three unanswered goals to take their first lead. Just 17 seconds after Doan's goal, Mikael Samuelsson set up Hamhuis in the left circle to get things started.

A second-period delay of game penalty to Korpikoski put Vancouver's No. 2-ranked power play to work. Bryzgalov stopped Ryan Kesler's deflection of a Christian Ehrhoff shot, but lost the puck. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin tried to clear the put but put it right on the stick of Henrik Sedin, who swept it in at 9:14 for his 16th goal.

Just 3:03 later, Salo's shot from the right point hit Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival in the slot and redirected past a helpless Bryzgalov to give Vancouver its first lead, with both Sedins picking up assists.

"When Hank and Danny are out there, as D-men we try to get open for them when we're cycling down there and that's what I did on both (goals)," said Hamhuis, who had four goals in 54 games before Tuesday. "They took over a little bit early but we battled right back, finished the period strong and the rest of the game."

The Coyotes were able to grab the momentum before the end of the second period on a highlight-reel goal. Belanger lifted a puck toward the net just as a speeding Korpikoski reached the crease and he swatted it - off a bounce and in mid-air - past Luongo at 19:17 to tie the game. Both goalies had great saves in the third period, with Luongo robbing Aucoin and Bryzgalov denying Burrows in the slot.

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