EDMONTON — With his parents looking on proudly, Kellan Lain made his NHL debut on Saturday night and was kicked out of the game two seconds after the opening faceoff.
In his second game on Tuesday night, he scored his first NHL goal in his second shift in a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Canucks over the Edmonton Oilers.
Game 3 is set for Thursday night at Rogers Arena. Given everything that’s happened to the Canucks rookie thus far, it’s hard to know what to expect next.
But you might want to tune in to find out.
“It was his second shift of the game (when Lain scored), so in three shifts he fought a heavyweight and scored a goal,” said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “You can’t have a better start than that. It kind of makes you think he would have scored in his first game if he played more than two seconds.”
That would have been two goals and a fight which, of course, would have been a Kellan Lain hat trick.
“Just excitement,” Lain said of his reaction. “It’s a dream to play in the NHL and be able to score a goal. It’s an accomplishment for me and my family.”
And, this night, for the Canucks.
Lain, whose NHL debut received attention for all the wrong reasons on Saturday, was in the spotlight for different reasons in his second outing at Rexall Place. Five minutes into the first period Lain drove the net, chopped at a juicy rebound provided by Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens, and scored. In addition to energizing the entire team, Lain’s goal gave the Canucks a lead they’d never relinquish as Roberto Luongo turned in a standout effort, stopping 28 of 29 shots for his second straight win since returning to the lineup from an ankle injury.
It was also the Canucks’ first game without suspended coach John Tortorella and injured team captain Henrik Sedin, who saw his 679-game iron-man streak come to an end.
“Guys are excited when things like that happen,” Luongo said of Lain’s goal. “I don’t know if you can picture more memorable first two games in the NHL than that.”
“It’s great,” said acting head coach Mike Sullivan, who stepped in behind the bench for Tortorella. “Everyone is so thrilled for Kellan. He’s had a tough couple of days. To get rewarded with a goal is pretty exciting.”
Lain drew the biggest scrum after the game but this win mostly belong to Luongo. Over the first 40 minutes, he stopped all 17 shots, including three big saves during an Oilers power play midway through the second period. At the conclusion of the penalty, Zack Kassian gave the Canucks a 2-0 lead when he ripped a wrister past Scrivens off a Ryan Kesler feed, and Luongo made that goal stand up as the game-winner through a shaky third period by the Canucks.
“(Luongo) played really well, especially on their power play,” said Bieksa. “The one way we thought they could beat us was on the power play. They picked us apart a few times and Lou had to make some big saves.”
Elsewhere with the Canucks, general manager Mike Gillis clarified the terms of Tortorella’s suspension. Tortorella, who was suspended for 15 days, the equivalent of six games, on Monday, isn’t allowed any interaction with Canucks players during his penalty.
“There are a number of limitations they’ve imposed, but the gist of it is he won’t be able to have any contact with the players during a game or practice,” said Gillis. “I don’t want to get into the details of it. He can talk to me and other people, but fundamentally he can’t have any contact with the players.”
Gillis said Tortorella showed “contrition,” during his hearing, which included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“He realized you can’t do those things. In the heat of the moment, with the adrenalin and emotion, he did something that can’t be tolerated in the National Hockey League.”
© Copyright (c) The Province