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Canucks show grit in 3-2 shootout win
NEWARK, N.J. -- Playing with just nine forwards in the final two periods on Thursday night, the Vancouver Canucks looked like every bit of a short-handed team playing its sixth game of a seven-game road trip.
But thanks to some outstanding goaltending from Roberto Luongo and a shootout goal from Mike Santorelli, the Canucks left Prudential Center with another two points in their pocket after a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Canucks coach John Tortorella dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen and lost right winger Dale Weise and left winger David Booth to lower-body injuries early in the game. The short bench appeared to catch up to the Canucks in the third, but Luongo stopped all 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes, one more in overtime and three in the shootout.
"We found a way to get her done," Luongo said. "Right now, we'll take these points because they're important."
Luongo said he was well aware of how tired his teammates were as the game progressed.
"It wasn't easy; a few guys go down with injuries," Luongo said. "I was trying to freeze everything so that our guys could get breathers. We dug deep. It wasn't an easy game to be part of for those guys having a short bench like that. Everybody had to chip in."
It wasn't pretty at the outset, even before the Canucks lost Booth and Weise. The teams combined for just eight shots in the first period and the Canucks trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes.
Patrik Elias scored his third goal of the season off a beautiful passing play that started with Jaromir Jagr hitting Andrei Loktionov with a cross-ice pass and Loktionov feeding it to Elias on the doorstep for a tap-in at 5:05.
The Devils' 1-0 lead didn't last long. Sixty-two seconds later, Ryan Kesler capitalized on a misplay by Devils goaltender Cory Schneider to pull the Canucks into a 1-1 tie. After Schneider couldn't control a bouncing puck, Henrik Sedin corralled the puck and slipped it to Kesler for his fifth goal of the season.
Rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas responded on the power play for his first NHL goal in his second career game. His shot from the blue line ricocheted off Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev to put the Devils ahead 2-1 at 9:41.
The Devils had their chances to extend the lead and later score in the third period of overtime, but they just couldn't finish their prime scoring opportunities.
"I feel like we have to be more hungry when we have those chances," Jagr said. "We have to be more hungry around the net, starting with me."
Daniel Sedin evened the score at 2 at 12:37 of the second period with a bad-angle goal off a setup from his twin brother. Henrik Sedin sent the puck into the Devils' zone from the red line near the right boards. The cross-corner dump-in kicked out to Daniel Sedin in the left circle, and his low slap shot slid under the pads of Schneider for his fourth goal of the season.
"He made a great shot," Henrik Sedin said of his brother. "It was a big goal. They're up 2-1 and we didn't have a lot going for us. It made us easier for us to play the rest of the game."
From there, the Canucks held on for dear life to steal a point in regulation, then grabbed a second one on the way out the door.
"It's tough. They rolled their lines and we had to play on a short bench," Henrik Sedin said. "That's why you work in the summer. A game like this, you have to try to make your shifts shorter and simplify things. It's fun. It feels like you're back playing peewee again, every second shift."
While the Canucks (7-4-1) are rolling, the Devils (1-5-4) are now 1-2-4 in games in which they score the first goal. It's the worst mark in the NHL among teams that have scored the game's first goal at least once.
Devils center Adam Henrique tried to take solace in the performance that fell short yet again.
"I thought guys played the right way," Henrique said. "I thought a lot of guys were battling hard. Now we have to take that and move forward."
NOTES: The Canucks will end their longest road trip of the season, a seven-game stretch, when they play the Blues on Friday in St. Louis. They are 4-1-1 on the trip. ... The Devils travel to Boston to play the Bruins on Saturday. ... Henrik Sedin played in his 641st consecutive game, the sixth-longest streak in NHL history. Blues D Jay Bouwmeester is the active ironman leader at 642 consecutive games. ... Devils LW Ryane Clowe (head injury) missed his fourth consecutive game. ... Elias returned to the New Jersey lineup after missing two games with an illness.