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Sedins, Sutter lead Canucks past Flames in opener

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Vancouver Canucks started the 2015-16 season on a winning note by exacting a small measure of revenge.

Brandon Sutter had a goal and an assist in his Canucks debut, and Ryan Miller made 29 saves to help Vancouver defeat the Calgary Flames 5-1 in the 2015 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Jannik Hansen, Daniel Sedin, Alexandre Burrows and Henrik Sedin scored for Vancouver, which was eliminated by Calgary in six games in the Western Conference First Round in April.

"Rivalries are always fun to play in. It's always a battle," said Sutter, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in June. "They're always tough games. These two teams played each other in the playoffs last year, and any time you do that, playoffs have the way to change the mindset on the ice when you're playing a team. It really turns into a battle, a war."

Jiri Hudler scored for Calgary, which extended the NHL's longest active losing streak in season openers (0-5-1). The Flames haven't started with a victory since Oct. 1, 2009, against the Canucks and are 12-20-1 with 10 ties all-time in their first game of the season.

"It was a lot of things," Calgary defenseman Kris Russell said. "Tonight, I don't think there was one thing that you can say that's what cost us the game. We had a training camp, just like they had a training camp, so there's absolutely no excuses. We weren't ready to play."

Tension from the Stanley Cup Playoffs immediately spilled into the season opener. Flames forward Micheal Ferland, who had 40 hits in the series, dropped the gloves with Canucks forward Derek Dorsett off the opening faceoff. Brandon Prust, who joined the Canucks from the Montreal Canadiens in an offseason trade, and Brandon Bollig followed at 8:02.

"It started right away," Sutter said. "[Dorsett] did a great job going out and [Prust] a little later in the game. Four pretty tough guys going at it there in those two fights. That's just the intensity of the game, and those guys don't get enough credit for what they do. Great way to start the year for them."

Moments after Calgary goalie Karri Ramo denied Daniel Sedin's one-timer with a paddle save on a 2-on-1, Hansen beat Ramo with a short-side slap shot to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 10:34.

Ben Hutton, playing in his first NHL game, had his first NHL point with an assist on the goal.

Sutter scored his first goal with the Canucks with 1:59 remaining in the first by batting Daniel Sedin's rebound out of midair and behind Ramo to extend Vancouver's lead to two.

"That just happened too quick to really think about it," Sutter said. "That was more just a reaction. I'd say probably 99 times out of 100 you miss it. I was fortunate to get a stick on it."

Calgary trimmed the deficit to one at 3:39 of the second. After forcing Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa into a turnover, Sean Monahan slid the puck over to Johnny Gaudreau, who spotted Hudler behind the play. In uncontested on Miller, Hudler quickly deked the Vancouver goaltender before sliding the puck five-hole and in.

But with five seconds remaining in the period, Dan Hamhuis' shot from the point deflected off the stick of Ramo, hit Daniel Sedin and dropped over the goal line to restore Vancouver's two-goal lead heading into the third.

"A little bit lucky too," Daniel Sedin said. "It bounces off the goalie, hits my leg and goes in. That was a huge one, I think, to be up 3-1 instead of 2-1."

The Flames were among the NHL's best late-game teams in 2014-15, ranking second in third-period goal differential (plus-31) and third in wins when trailing after two periods (10). They couldn't replicate that magic to start the 2015-16 season.

The Canucks outshot the Flames 8-3 in the opening seven minutes of the third, including another chance by Hansen on a one-timer from the slot that was turned aside by Ramo, one of his 39 saves.

But Ramo was beaten twice after that.

Calgary defenseman Dennis Wideman knocked Burrows' centering feed past Ramo at 8:17, then Henrik Sedin scored from the goal line with 3:29 remaining to extend Vancouver's lead to 5-1.

The line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Sutter had three goals and six points.

"It's always nice to score goals," Sutter said. "You want to be on the right side of that, and that's always fun, but I thought the reason we scored those goals was how good we were without the puck and coming into their zone and breaking out of our zone. After the first period, we really tightened things up, didn't give them much, and that's why our offense was so good, how good our game was defensively."

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