VANCOUVER – It only took a couple of seconds for the puck to deflect off Jordan Schroeder's stick in the low slot, hit the goaltender and trickle into the net. But for Vancouver Canucks' rookie, it felt a lot longer.
Especially after already waiting eight games to score his first NHL goal.
"It felt like it took a minute to cross the line as I was watching it," said Schroeder, describing his emotions in that moment. "Excitement. Relief. It's been eight games and it kind of feels like a weight lifted off your shoulders. You want to get that first one so bad."
Schroeder, a first-round pick in 2009, didn't have to wait nearly as long for his second one, rounding out the scoring with 4:19 left in a 5-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. Having the first one under his belt finally made it a lot easier to score the second.
"It's a weight off your shoulders, you are gripping you're stick pretty tight," he said. "To be able to get two in one night is always good."
For Schroeder, a skilled center who heard a lot about being just 5-foot-8 while waiting four years to make his NHL debut, it was no coincidence both goals came within 15 feet of the net. The first was a nifty deflection on a power play in the low slot. The second came on a rebound after a play he started with a nice cross-ice pass.
"Anyone can go there -- it's whether you want to or not," said Schroeder, who is listed at 175 pounds but is filling big shoes while Ryan Kesler recovers from offseason shoulder and wrist surgery. "That's what you have to do to stay in the lineup and produce."
For a while, it didn't look like Vancouver would produce much against a Flames' team riddled with key injuries. Calgary was outshooting the Canucks 11-4 when Lee Stempniak opened the scoring for with 1:42 left in the first period. But the Canucks took over soon after.
"It was a sluggish first, a little sloppy," said Cory Schneider, who made 33 saves for his second straight win after watching Roberto Luongo play the previous four. "But it's not how you start, it's how you finish and we had a great push back. We didn't let that first goal get us down, we just took it right to them and took over the game."
Alexandre Burrows jammed in a rebound to tie it 8:34 into the second period, and Schroeder put the Canucks ahead for good 27 seconds later by ending a 2-for-32 funk on the power play. Kevin Bieksa scored with 2:32 left in the second period, and Chris Higgins added another 1:18 into the third before Schroeder capped things off.
"Our start wasn't the best but once they scored we started buzzing," said Burrows, who added an assist. "Getting pucks deep, get on the forecheck, get four lines rolling and everybody was trying to join the party."
More probably would have if not for Leland Irving, who had several spectacular stops among 26 saves as he made his second straight start since star Miikka Kiprusoff strained his knee.
"Leland Irving kept us in the game. Without him, it would have been much worse than this," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "We played a great first period and then second and third period the bottom line is they outworked us, they wanted it way more than us."
Irving wasn't taking any solace in a handful of highlight-reel saves.
"I'm focusing on the ones that got by me right now," Irving said. "So I'll go back and look at those and see what -- if anything -- I can do to make sure it doesn't happen."
In addition to their workhorse No.1 goaltender, the Flames were missing three key forwards -- including Mike Cammalleri -- as they tried to win three straight for the first time this season. Hartley wasn't interested in any excuses.
"It's sad because you are playing the Vancouver Canucks, archrivals, division rivals, and you play a great first period and suddenly the game is over," he said. "You can't dwell on it, but there are certain players that have to look in the mirror and say ‘I need to be better.' We are in a professional business, and to be mediocre is not acceptable."
Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin combined to set up both Burrows and Bieksa. The second assist gave Henrik 755 career points for the Canucks, just one behind former captain and teammate Markus Naslund for the franchise record.
"He's a guy that will tell everybody it doesn't mean a whole lot but the way he has played for this organization has been remarkable," said Burrows. "Once he hits that milestone, we'll make it special for him."
On Saturday, though, it was Schroeder, who also has two assists this season, celebrating the milestones.
Only 751 more points to catch Sedin.
"It's a start," Schroeder said.