It’s not how you start, but rather how you finish. The Canucks proved that on Sunday evening with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Rogers Arena. After giving up two goals on three shots to the Sabres, Vancouver answered back with four unanswered goals to keep the playoff flame flickering for just a little longer.
Zack Kassian had a career-high four assists on the night against his former team while his fellow linesmen Shawn Matthias and Brad Richardson each scored a goal on the night. The trio combined for nine points (two goals, seven assists) in the win.
Eddie Lack stopped 16 shots on the night while the Canucks sent 36 shots on net against Buffalo goalie Nathan Lieuwan.
The game got off to a wild start with Buffalo scoring first just 71 seconds into the game. Tyler Ennis beat Eddie Lack with a wrist shot using the post for a little help with the goal.
Things then went from bad to worse as just over two minutes later, a puck deflected off Ryan Stanton (again) and past Lack to give the Sabres a quick 2-0 lead. Stanton had kneeled down to block the shot from Jamie McBain, but the puck deflected off Stanton’s stick and changed its path to the net. Lack had already committed and couldn’t adjust to the deflection as McBain was credited with his fourth goal of the year. This was the third time in the span of a week that Stanton has been on the wrong end of an own goal against Lack. Looks like somebody owes the goalie a steak dinner after this one.
Fortunately, the Canucks were able to rebound with a pair of goals to tie the game. Brad Richardson struck first for Vancouver midway through the first period when Shawn Matthias was able to battle 27 along the boards to keep possession. Zack Kassian then found Richardson from behind the net, and Richardson was able to beat Lieuwen for his first goal in 22 games.
A few minutes later, it was Matthias who tied things up for the Canucks. Kassian and Richardson, both involved on the previous scoring play, battled together along the boards to free up the puck. Kassian then found Matthias and delivered a centering pass to set up the goal to tie things up at 2-2.
The Canucks wasted no time in getting things going during the second period. Just 100 seconds into the period, Yannick Weber gave Vancouver the lead with his fourth goal of the season. The goal was a bit of a fluke as Weber was just trying to get the puck towards the net. But in following one of the basic rules of hockey, just get the puck on net and good things happen. On the scoring play, Kassian was credited with his third assist of the night, getting involved on every goal against his former team.
With just under five minutes to go, Henrik Sedin was taken to the dressing room after twisting his left ankle while getting tangled up with Tyler Ennnis. He would not return to the game.
The Canucks drew their first power play of the game when Nicklas Jensen was tripped up by Mike Weber with 1:16 to play. Vancouver had their best scoring chance when Yannick Weber blasted a one-timer on net but neither Weber nor Ryan Kesler off the rebound could get the puck past Lieuwen as the game remained 3-2 in favor of the Canucks heading into the final period.
Much like the second period, the Canucks were able to find the back of the net in the third period when David Booth scored his first goal in 32 games. Zack Kassian created the play as he fought of a check from Henrik Tallinder and delivered the pass to Booth for his fourth assist on the night.
Late in the third period, the Sabres nearly cut into the lead when Cody Hodgson had a couple of opportunities in front of the net, but a diving Eddie Lack stopped the shots, spurring on the "Eddie! Eddie!" chants from the crowd as the Canucks wrapped up their second straight win for the first time since the end of January.
The Canucks now hit the road for back-to-back games against the Wild and Avalanche on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Vancouver trails the Phoenix Coyotes by three points for the final playoff spot in the west. Phoenix plays in back-to-back games against the Rangers and Penguins on the road Monday and Tuesday night. The Dallas Stars, who are one point ahead of the Canucks, face the Jets and Blackhawks in back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday as well. Time to do some scoreboard watching until the Canucks hit the ice again on Wednesday.