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Miller, Canucks shut out Penguins

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks like to think of themselves as a four-line team under first-year coach Willie Desjardins, but too often lately none of them had been contributing consistently.

That wasn't the case against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Alexandre Burrows and Daniel Sedin scored on the power play and Bo Horvat, Shawn Matthias and Zack Kassian scored at even strength to give the Canucks goals from each of their four lines in a 5-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Arena.

In a lot of ways, it was the opposite of a 5-1 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

"We have to realize we are a four-line team, every guy gets their minutes," Daniel Sedin said. "If guys aren't ready at the start of the game, it's going to look like it did last game. If we are ready, we play like we did today. That's the difference."

It's a difference the Canucks (29-19-3) were on the wrong side of a lot during an otherwise underwhelming 3-3-0 homestand. Few expected that to change against the Penguins, who were coming off back-to-back shutouts. But they were also playing on consecutive nights and offered little resistance, especially after an apparent goal was called off early in the second period.

"Really the turning point was we seemed to get momentum early in the second and didn't get the goal and they come back the other way and make it 3-0," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "If we get that first one and make it 2-1, it might have been different."

As it was, Canucks goalie Ryan Miller was asked to make a few tough saves among the 31 required for his sixth shutout of the season.

"The guys did a great job," Miller said. "[We] really limited their shots."

Backup goalie Thomas Greiss made 22 saves for the Penguins (30-15-8), who failed in their bid to sweep a three-game Western Canadian trip.

"Just a poor start," Crosby said. "They came out hard, you fall back two goals and are probably guilty of taking some chances when you fall behind and it was uphill from there."

Burrows ended a long power-play drought 7:13 into the first period and Horvat doubled the lead two-and-a-half minutes later.

Vancouver didn't manage a shot until the final seconds of an early power play, but got another chance 10 seconds after it expired when Crosby took a holding penalty deep in the offensive zone.

Burrows converted it from atop the crease by deflecting a Radim Vrbata one-timer under the arm of Greiss. It was Vrbata's 500th career point, ended an 0-for-14 slump on the power play, and was the first time in seven games the Canucks opened the scoring.

"It's tough to chase from behind all the time," Daniel Sedin said.

Horvat, a 19-year-old rookie who played his first couple shifts head-to-head against Crosby, doubled the lead midway through the period after stealing the puck from Evgeni Malkin at the blue line while the Penguins tried to break out of their own end. Horvat passed across to Derek Dorsett on the resulting 2-on-1, but Dorsett fanned on a one-time attempt before knocking the bouncing puck back across to Horvat, who had an empty net for his fifth goal of the season.

"I saw my chance to attack him and I don't think he was expecting me to pinch in like that," Horvat said. "Lucky I got my stick on it and Dorsett made a great play back to me."

Pittsburgh appeared to score 4:29 into the second period when defenseman Derrick Pouliot's point shot hit the post, bounced off the back of the Miller's leg and trickled over the goal line. But the net was knocked off its moorings as the puck went in and a long review proved inconclusive, so the call on the ice of no goal stood.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston was still at a loss to understand the call after the game, calling it a "critical turning point of the game."

"It was definitely a goal," Johnston said. "I don't know how it was determined it wasn't a goal. I still don't understand."

Miller was happy with the call, but more so that the Canucks took advantage of it.

"I was just kind of holding my breath, hoping for getting one of those calls," Miller said. "I told myself we were given an opportunity, we have to make it count. We can't let them back in the game."

Matthias made it 3-0 with five minutes left in the second period on a 2-on-1 rush that started with Malkin going down in the Vancouver end with the left hand of defenseman Dan Hamhuis on Malkin's left hip. With Malkin looking for a call, Hamhuis joined the rush with Matthias, who looked pass before beating Greiss past the blocker with a wrist shot.

"Our guys came with a real good effort and it was an effort from everybody," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "It wasn't an effort by 15 guys, it was the whole team."

Kassian, who was back in the lineup after three games as a healthy scratch, converted a Greiss giveaway to make it 4-0 with 2:39 left in the period. Greiss whiffed on a pass behind his own net, moving it a couple feet to Linden Vey, who passed to an open Kassian in front of an empty net for his first goal since Oct. 21, a span of 22 games.

"Just mishandled it," Greiss said. "It stood up right on the boards and I tried to shoot it as hard as I could and it just rolled off my stick."

Kassian looked as stunned as anyone after scoring.

"I forgot what to do," said Kassian, who received a long ovation after. "It's nice to see. It's been tough. It's a game I want to build off of and keep getting better."

Daniel Sedin added a second power-play goal 2:05 into the third period after a nice backdoor pass from Burrows. It was Sedin's 115th power-play goal, moving him past former teammate Markus Naslund for first place on the Canucks' all-time list, and 318th of his career, moving him into a second-place tie with Trevor Linden.

Asked what the milestones mean, Daniel simply said, "I've played a long time."

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