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Henrik Sedin leads Canucks to 6-2 win over Pens

by John Kreiser

Henrik Sedin upstaged Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sedin, the NHL's leading scorer, raised his point total to 67 with a goal and a pair assists as the Vancouver Canucks spoiled Pittsburgh's bid for a second straight sweep of Western Canada by beating the Penguins 6-2 on Saturday night at a sold-out GM Place

Crosby's second visit to Western Canada -- the first was a three-game sweep in December 2007 -- attracted huge throngs of media and sellout crowds in Calgary and Edmonton before the Penguins arrived in Vancouver. But the Canucks held Crosby off the scoresheet, while Sedin tied the game late in the first period and set up two of Vancouver's four second-period goals as the home side routed rookie goaltender John Curry while ending a three-game losing streak

"They've got a lot of talent up front. It's hard to eliminate their chances," Sedin said. "I think we did a pretty good job on them.

"I think this was a good game to have right now," he added. "It was a good matchup for us, and we played really good."

Sedin now has 39 points in his last 22 games and leads the scoring race by four points over San Jose's Joe Thornton. The line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows has 94 points in those 22 games.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasn't reluctant to match up his big line against Crosby's unit.

"I thought the Twins played well against that line," he said. "They had the puck most of the night. They cycle and they see plays that for the rest of us are hard to see. They did a good job against Sid, no doubt."

That they did. Crosby went without a shot on goal for the first time this season and finished minus-3.

"They capitalized on every mistake we made," he said. "They controlled the puck -- especially the first two periods. They outplayed us. They made plays. They just played better."

Vancouver now has 58 points, two behind first-place Colorado in the Northwest Division. The Canucks edged into sixth place in the tight Western Conference standings. Pittsburgh stayed four points behind first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.

Curry got his fourth career NHL start because No. 1 goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was out with a broken finger and backup Brent Johnson is on IR. But coach Dan Bylsma hooked Curry after Willie Mitchell's goal at 3:56 of the second period made it 5-1 -- replacing him with 19-year-old junior goaltender Alexander Pechurski, who one night earlier was playing for Tri-City of the Western Hockey League.

"We got a lot of traffic in front of their young goaltender," Vancouver center Ryan Kesler said. "We started throwing pucks at the net in the second period, and we capitalized on some lucky bounces."

Pechurski, a fifth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2008, looked right at home playing with the big boys; he stopped 12 shots and allowed only Kesler's unstoppable power-play deflection at 13:08 of the second period.

"He showed a lot of poise. That's a tough situation to go into," Crosby said of the young Russian, who was named the game's third star. "They had a lot of momentum, and they were still getting some good chances when he came in. He showed a lot of guts coming in and playing the way he did. That's a tough way to come in, and he passed the test, big-time."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Pechurski's insertion "was the definition of being thrown into the fire. It's a lot to ask of a young kid, but he played fantastic. He was in the moment. He was confident. He did a good job for us."

He said he needed to change goaltenders, even though he would have to use a junior netminder.

"We needed the change, regardless of who was the backup," Bylsma said. "I think the team needed it, and he did a good job."

The Penguins completed their five-game trip with a 3-2-0 record. They are off until Tuesday, when they host the New York Islanders.

Pittsburgh got off to a fast start when Evgeni Malkin drove to the net and nudged Ruslan Fedotenko's pass behind Roberto Luongo 7:32 into the game for his first goal in 12 games.

But Sedin tied it just over seven minutes later, controlling the puck just behind the goal line to the right of Curry and flipping the puck off the goaltender's blocker, down his arm and into the net.

Burrows put Vancouver ahead at 18:37 with a spectacular shorthanded goal, stripping a bouncing puck from Gonchar at the Vancouver blue line, racing in alone and controlling the bobbling puck long enough to flip a backhander over Curry.

The wheels came off for the Penguins at the start of the second period.

Malkin's turnover in his own zone led to a Mason Raymond point shot that bounced and was deflected into the net by Mikael Samuelsson at 1:22. Jannik Hansen raced past defenseman Mark Eaton to redirect a perfect pass from Sedin into the net at 3:04, and Sedin saw Mitchell creep in from the left point and hit him with a beautiful across-the-slot pass. Mitchell, not known as a goal-scorer, flipped home a backhander for a 5-1 lead.

Curry left 82 seconds later, having allowed 5 goals on 14 shots.

"I think when they got that cluster there in the second," Crosby said when asked where the game turned. "It obviously didn't help when they got that shorthanded goal, but we were still in the game, but then they opened it up with two or three quick ones."

Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke rammed home a rebound at 11:54, but Kesler's power-play goal 74 seconds later ended any Pittsburgh hopes for a comeback.

"From the second half of the first period through the time when they pulled their goaltender, we had some real quality chances," Vigneault said. "It's proof that you can be the Stanley Cup champions, but if you don't get goaltending, you have no chance of winning. The first goaltender obviously wasn't good enough. They put the kid in and the kid did a pretty good job."

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