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Canucks snap 5-game opening night losing streak in 4-2 win over Flames

The Canucks are undefeated. Sure, it's only one game. But it's a promising start to the 2014/15 season.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Change is coming.

That's what the Canucks were telling the fans all summer long. They cleaned house and now have a new president, GM, head coach and new faces on the ice. We saw the first signs of those changes on Wednesday night as the Canucks defeated the Calgary Flames 4-2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, their first opening night win since 2008.

Four different Canucks scored in the win, including the newcomer on the Sedin line, Radim Vrbata.

New Canucks goalie Ryan Miller notched the win in his debut, stopping 23 of 25 shots as Vancouver never trailed the whole night.

So how did the Canucks snap their opening night losing streak? Glad you asked. Let's dive in to the first recap of the year!

1st Period

With the Canucks already shorthanded, Chris Higgins was sent off for a delay of game, giving the Flames a 5-on-3 advantage for a minute. The Canucks survived that minute, allowing a couple chances towards the net, including a centering pass that was broken up by Luca Sbisa. Nick Bonino also came up with a couple blocked shots during the 5-on-3 as the Canucks survived without allowing a goal. Let’s clap it up for the new guys!

The Canucks had their crack when Paul Byron was sent off for hooking. Immediately off of the faceoff won by Bonino, Dan Hamhuis delivered a shot on net which was redirected by Alex Burrows for the goal at the 11:55 mark of the opening period. Yes, the same Alex Burrows who didn’t score his first goal last season until March. Is this what the Canucks meant around the whole, "Change is Coming" campaign over the summer?

On Vancouver’s next power play, it was actually more about the defense as Hamhuis and Mike Stanton came up with some huge plays on defense that most likely preserved Vancouver’s 1-0 lead after the first period.

Chris Tanev had one of the better chances of the period, blasting a slap shot on net as time expired. Only a nifty glove save from Jonas Hiller kept the game at 1-0 going into the intermission.

The Flames controlled the face-off circle during the opening period, winning 76 percent of the draws. Fortunately, the Canucks won the face-off that mattered most on the power play.

Burrows also had the early front-runner for quote of the year during the intermission.

That’s a strong candidate for #SBNationAfterDark on Twitter tonight.

2nd Period

Just under five minutes into the second period, the Flames tied the game at 1-1. While trying to control possession, Jannik Hansen fell to the ice, creating a 2-on-1 rush for the Flames. Paul Byron took it all the way, ripping a shot past Miller from the right face-off circle.

The Canucks answered right back less than a minute later. Brad Richardson came up with a turnover, eventually getting the puck back in front of the net from Linden Vey. Richardson found Zack Kassian on the opposite side of the net who tipped it in to put the Canucks back in the lead.

The Canucks took a 3-1 lead when Radim Vrbata knocked in the a centering pass from Henrik Sedin that was deflected into the air. The goal was initially waived off as it was deemed Vrbata’s stick was above the crossbar when he knocked it in, but after a lengthy review, the call was overturned and Vrbata was awarded with his first goal in a Canucks sweater.

The Flames came up with their second goal thanks to Alex Edler mishandling the puck right by Ryan Miller. Jiri Hudler was right there to capitalize and bring the Flames back to within one goal with 6:41 left in the second period. Somehow, Edler was already at -2 not even 40 minutes into the season.

Late in the second period, Alex Burrows delivered a punishing hit on Dennis Wideman just before the two reached the boards, swinging the right shoulder into Wildeman to send him flying.


Boom. Goes. The. Dynamite.

With just a couple ticks of the clock left, things finally started to get a little chippy as Daniel Sedin and Deryk Engelland got into a shoving match. Pretty soon, everyone had a hold of someone, but no gloves were dropped. Just a good ol’ fashioned scrum to end the period with the Canucks leading 3-2.

3rd Period

Miller came up big early in the third period for the Canucks, stopping a flurry of chances all while his stick was behind the net. Vancouver was finally able to clear the puck and allow Miller to pick up his stick before the Flames could take advantage.

The Canucks caught another lucky break when a penalty against Vancouver was overturned. Even the Sedins were getting verbal about things. That’s when you know something is up.

The Flames had one of their better chances of the third period when Johnny Gaudreau, the 21-year old forward fresh out of Boston College with all of one game of NHL experience so far, skated in for an open look at the net, but the shot was deflected away as time continued to tick away in the final period.

While they had been outshooting the Flames for much of the night, the Canucks seemed to shift to more of a conservative, defensive approach as the game went on. I'm all for playing smarter more defensive hockey when you're in the lead, but there's a fine line between playing defensive and playing not to lose rather than playing to win. That's a dangerous line to walk.

Trailing 3-2, the Flames pulled Hiller for a last-ditch effort. Then, Henrik Sedin pulled off the most exciting empty net goal you've ever seen, tipping the puck to the net while gliding into the net himself, icing the game emphatically.

Next up for the Canucks

The Canucks now head home to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night in their home opener at Rogers Arena. Enjoy the night, because tonight, the Canucks are 1-0-0 for the first time since 2008.