CALGARY - A rare offensive contribution from Vancouver's fourth line turned out to be the difference Thursday night.
Byron Ritchie and Alex Burrows scored 16 seconds apart as the Canucks built up a 3-0 lead then withstood a furious Calgary Flames rally in the third period to hang on for a 3-2 victory. "It's a great feeling," said Ritchie, whose first goal of the season comes against his former team of the past two seasons. "We know we have to chip in more often then we have. It was nice to do that tonight and help the team."
Scoreless after 20 minutes, Vancouver struck quickly in the second period scoring three times in less than six minutes.
Brendan Morrison opened the scoring on a power play at 2:32, neatly completing a tic-tac-toe passing play with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
Ritchie made it 2-0 at 7:58 on a harmless-looking wrist shot from a bad angle that Miikka Kiprusoff mishandled. Calgary defenceman David Hale then gave the puck away to Trevor Linden in front of the Flames net who knocked it across to Burrows, who backhanded it into the low corner.
That made for two goals on the same shift for Vancouver's fourth line, which had combined for just one goal in the Canucks first 14 games.
Vancouver (7-8-0) continues to excel away from home winning its third straight game and improving its road record to 6-2-0. Friday night when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche, who they just beat 4-3 in Denver, the Canucks will be trying to end their woes at GM Place where they've lost six of their first seven.
"We won two big games on the road in two hard buildings to win in," said Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 36 saves.
"Now we're going home and it's going to be important to have the same approach and make sure we play a good, patient game and capitalize on our chances."
Anders Eriksson and Owen Nolan scored for Calgary (6-7-3). Losers of four in a row, the Flames will try to end that slump Saturday night when the Edmonton Oilers visit.
"We're beating ourselves," said Eriksson. "We're not playing until we get our backs pushed up against the wall and we have nowhere to go, then we start playing the way we can."
Calgary swarmed the Vancouver net for much of the third period peppering Luongo with 23 shots, but couldn't score the tying goal.
"They were coming at us hard in the third," Luongo said. "We took some penalties and it kind of swung the momentum their way, but we were able to hold on."
Adding to the Flames misery was the loss of Daymond Langkow to a concussion. The centre was knocked out of the game halfway through the second period after his head smashed into the glass on a check by Vancouver's Matt Cooke, who was penalized for boarding.
While Langkow lay on the ice, Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf went after Cooke. After unsuccessfully reaching him, Phaneuf grabbed and starting trading punches with Mattias Ohlund in a rare fight for the Canucks Swedish defenceman.
Calgary finally gave the sell-out crowd of 19,289 something to cheer about when Eriksson and Nolan scored 33 seconds apart.
Nolans goal at 10:17 was the first goal in 28 games for the free agent signing dating back to last season when he was with the Phoenix Coyotes.
"Luongo's a phenomenal goalie, him and Kipper are probably the two best in the world. He bailed us out in the third period there; he came up huge," Ritchie said.
Although Calgary's offence has struggled scoring five goal in its four-game slide, coach Mike Keenan still points to the defensive lapses as his biggest concern.
"If we play like we did in the latter part of the game, we'll get more goals on a consistent basis," Keenan said.
"The goals against is what makes the difference in this league. If you look at the top teams, they pay a lot of attention to their defensive play and wait for the transition and their opportunities offensively."
Notes - Calgary D Rhett Warrener (throat ailment) missed his third game in a row. ...Iginla has no goals in his last eight games versus Vancouver. ...Vancouver's in the midst of a quirk in it's schedule that sees them play back-to-back games sandwiched between two stretches of four days off. ...Vancouver improves to 5-0 against Northwest Division opponents. ...Kiprusoff, New York's Henrik Lundqvist, and San Joses Evgeni Nabokov are the only three goalies that have started every one of their team's games. ...Ohlund's fight was just his fourth in 10 NHL seasons. The last time he dropped the gloves was against Iginla in the playoffs on Apr. 11, 2004.