Iain MacIntyre: Canucks win one, only need two more

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks’ Ryan Miller celebrates 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames with teammates.
 
 

Vancouver Canucks’ Ryan Miller celebrates 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames with teammates.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

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VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks did something they haven’t in three years: they won an elimination game Thursday against the Calgary Flames. Now, they need to win another.

Actually, they need to win two more elimination games, but that sounds a little daunting, so we’re going to stick with one. That’s the way the Canucks are approaching Game 6 Saturday night in Calgary after beating the Flames 2-1 at Rogers Arena.

“We strongly believe we can win the series, not just make it a long series,” Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis said after setting up Daniel Sedin’s goalmouth game-winner at 1:47 of the third period. “We won’t be satisfied just forcing Game 6 or Game 7 if we lose. The whole idea is to win the series and anything short of that, we won’t be satisfied.”

He’s right. There are no moral victories in the National Hockey League playoffs. There isn’t time for them. You win or you don’t.

Still, given the quickness with which the Canucks were tossed out of the Stanley Cup tournament in 2012 and 2013 — the last two years they made it — it was impressive to see their resolve and backbone Thursday when they dominated a Flames team that may finally feel a little pressure on Saturday. Even after falling behind early, quieting an already uneasy crowd, the Canucks played with confidence and assertiveness. They outshot the Flames 43-21 and were undeterred when it looked for most of the game that Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller might single-handedly send them into another early summer.

Nick Bonino, who scored Vancouver’s tying goal, said team captain Henrik Sedin gave a rousing pre-game speech, telling teammates how the Canucks have been down before 3-1 in a series and rallied to win.

Sedin must have also discussed the offensive-zone faceoff play with his brother that allowed Daniel to make it 2-1 when Hamhuis swooped in to collect the puck from Henrik’s draw and sent a pass to the top of the crease.

“We try different things, but nothing has worked so far,” Danny said. “Tonight it did at the right time.

“We want to win this series — it’s not about playing well in (an elimination) game. We felt we could get back in the series and we’re going to go to Calgary to play Game 6.”

“Just go and play a good road game,” defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. “We didn’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We didn’t go out trying to win three games in one. We wanted to have a good start. We won the second period and we won the third.”

And they held off a Flames team that made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 on grit and resilience, including an ability to surge from behind in the third period. That’s how they won Game 1 last week. But on Thursday, the Canucks held the Flames to just five third-period shots and one sparkling scoring chance for Joe Colborne, who was stopped in the low slot by Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller.

“I don’t think we ever underestimated these guys,” Bieksa said. “We knew they were one of the best third-period teams in the league. It just so happened they came back on us in the first game. Tonight we were able to hold them.”

Struggling to make a mark in the series, Nick Bonino slammed a huge dent in Calgary at 13:31 of the second period when he tied it 1-1 with a bullet shot into the top corner from a sharp angle. The play began with Bonino taking a hit to get to the puck first on a shoot-in, then receiving a pass back from Radim Vrbata, who had also been largely invisible through four games.

The goal came amid a sustained surge of Vancouver pressure. The push essentially lasted the opening 40 minutes, as the Canucks outshot the Flames 34-16. And yet Calgary led for 30 minutes after opening scoring at 2:40 of the first period.

With the Canucks slow to regroup after a dump-in by the Flames, defenceman Alex Edler had his chip along the boards hit Matt Stajan and ricochet into the Vancouver slot to teammate David Jones. The Flame beat Miller stick-side.

The Flames’ entire season has been a counter-attack, their team able to collapse around its net and absorb pressure, then use its speed and stretch passes to counter. But the Canucks, too, have done their best work when it was least suspected, when the schedule or opponent was the most difficult.

No one Thursday morning was calling them to win this series.

“We’ve battled all year,” defenceman Chris Tanev said. “A lot of people counted us out at the start of the year. And at the end of the year, people weren’t sure we could pull it off and make the playoffs. I think everyone likes to play under pressure.”

They’ve got their wish.

GAME ESSENTIALS

THE SKINNY

Hoping for a fast start, the Canucks got just the reverse as David Jones beat Ryan Miller at the 2:40 mark after an Alex Edler turnover. The Canucks finally pulled even at 13:31 of the second when Nick Bonino beat Jonas Hiller far side from a sharp angle. Daniel Sedin then netted the game-winner at 1:47 of the third when he jammed home a loose puck after a Dan Hamhuis shot from the left corner that handcuffed Hiller.

PIVOTAL POINT

Midway through the second period with the Flames up 1-0, former Canuck Mason Raymond had a clear-cut breakaway on Ryan Miller on a bad Vancouver line change, went to his backhand but lost the handle and the puck slid harmlessly into the corner. Had Raymond scored there, it might have been enough to deflate the Canucks and the crowd. A few minutes later, Nick Bonino pulled the Canucks even.

BY THE NUMBERS

Daniel Sedin’s goal, the 25th of his career in the playoffs, moved him past Cliff Ronning into fourth place on the Canucks’ all-time list. He’s one behind Geoff Courtnall … Nick Bonino’s second-period goal ended Jonas Hiller’s shutout streak at 85:19 … The Canucks outshot the Flames 43-21 and directed 66 pucks at Hiller. The Flames flung 50 shots at Ryan Miller … Faceoffs were 30-29 in the Flames’ favour.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Canucks have won Game 5 in a series in which they trailed 3-1 seven times. Here are the first six: in 1992 against Winnipeg (won series in seven), in 1992 against Edmonton (lost series in six), 1994 against Calgary (won series in seven), in 1994 against the Rangers (lost Stanley Cup Final in seven), in 2003 against St. Louis (won series in seven), and in 2010 against Chicago (lost series in six).

QUOTABLE

"We still have home-ice advantage, we’re still up 3-2, so the pressure is still on them to win the next one. Certainly we want to win at home (Saturday) and do everything to win the series. I didn’t think we played our best game tonight but, at the same time, it’s still a good sign because we can play better and I thought they played their best game.” — Flames netminder Jonas Hiller, summing up what coach Bob Hartley said post-game.

Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks’ Ryan Miller celebrates 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames with teammates.
 

Vancouver Canucks’ Ryan Miller celebrates 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames with teammates.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

 
Vancouver Canucks’ Ryan Miller celebrates 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames with teammates.
Canucks edge Flames, 2-1, to stay alive
Vancouver Canucks Daniel Sedin, 23, celebrates his 3rd period goal against the Calgary Flames.
Calgary Flames’ Kris Russell, from left to right, Dennis Wideman, David Jones and Matt Stajan celebrate Jones’ goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks Nick Bonino, 13, celebrates after he scored in the second period to tie the game 1-1 against the Calgary Flames.
Kate Upton, top right, and William H. Macy, top left, watch the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.
Calgary Flames’ Michael Ferland (79) celebrates a goal by teammate David Jones against Vancouver Canucks’ goalie Ryan Miller.
Vancouver Canucks Daniel Sedin, 23, jumps in front of the Calgary Flames net.
Vancouver Canucks’ goalie Ryan Miller makes the save as Luca Sbisa (5), of Switzerland, and Kevin Bieksa (3) defend against Calgary Flames’ Joe Colborne (8).
Vancouver Canucks Ryan Miler 30 looks down as the Calgary Flames Michael Ferland (79) celebrates early goal.
Calgary Flames’ goalie Jonas Hiller, of Switzerland, makes a save against the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks’ Luca Sbisa, right, of Switzerland, checks Calgary Flames’ Michael Ferland.
Calgary Flames’ goalie Jonas Hiller, left, of Switzerland, makes a save as Vancouver Canucks’ Jannik Hansen, of Denmark, waits for the rebound.
Calgary Flames’ Michael Ferland, left, checks Vancouver Canucks’ Kevin Bieksa.
Vancouver Canucks Yannick Weber, 6, battles the Calgary Flames Brandon Bollig, 25.
A fan watches the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames during the pre-game skate.
Calgary Flames’ Michael Ferland (79) celebrates a goal by David Jones against Vancouver Canucks’ goalie Ryan Miller.
Calgary Flames’ Kris Russell, from left to right, Dennis Wideman, David Jones and Matt Stajan celebrate Jones’ goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary Flames’ T.J. Brodie, right, reacts after taking a stick to the face from Vancouver Canucks’ Ronalds Kenins.
Vancouver Canucks Ryan Miller looks down as the Calgary Flames' Michael Ferland (79 ) celebrates early goal.
Vancouver Canucks’ Luca Sbisa, right, of Switzerland, checks Calgary Flames’ Michael Ferland.
Calgary Flames’ David Schlemko, back left, checks Vancouver Canucks’ Radim Vrbata (17), of the Czech Republic, as Flames Mason Raymond (21) watches.
Vancouver Canucks fans Ty Benoit and Hank Asp (r) show their support.
Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Tanev, top, checks Calgary Flames’ Sean Monahan.
Vancouver Canucks Shawn Matthias, 27, battles the Calgary Flames Brandon Bollig, 25.
Kate Upton, right, watches the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames play.
Goalie Ryan Miller during Vancouver Canucks practice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on April 22, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning at Rogers Arena.
Vancouver Canucks Chris Tanev winces as he battles the Calgary Flames.
Vancouver Canucks Daniel Sedin, 23, celebrates his 3rd period game-winning goal, with his brother Henrik (centre r) and Kevin Bieksa 3.
Calgary Flames’ goalie Jonas Hiller, of Switzerland, dives to cover up the puck against the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks Ryan Miller warms up against Calgary Flames.
Vancouver Canucks Henrik Sedin clears the puck from Calgary Flames Matt Stajan.
Vancouver Canucks’ goalie Ryan Miller makes the save as Luca Sbisa (5) and Kevin Bieksa (3) defend against Calgary Flames’ Joe Colborne (8).
Vancouver Canucks Yannick Weber, 6, is taken out by the Calgary Flames Josh Jooris, 86, and Brandon Bollig, 25.
Vancouver Canucks Ryan Miller leads team against Calgary Flames in game five of NHL playoffs at Rogers Arena.
Vancouver Canucks Nick Bonino battles Calgary Flames Joe Colborne in front of goalie Ryan Miller.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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