It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
The Canucks proved that on Tuesday night, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 at Rogers Arena, securing a crucial pair of points as we head into the home stretch of the Western Conference playoff race.
Vancouver scored three unanswered goals in the second period, including the game-winner from Radim Vrbata with just one minute left before the final intermission.
The Canucks also added a pair of empty-netters to ice the game after another heroic late performance from Eddie Lack, including a game-saving glove save in the final minutes when the Canucks held a slim 3-2 lead.
Both teams entered Tuesday's game with 88 points as the Canucks held onto second place in the Pacific while the Jets clung to the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Vancouver has now won five of their last six games with nine games remaining in the regular season.
With the game tied 2-2 late in the second period, Radim Vrbata showed off his patience by dragging the puck across the top of the crease, forcing Michael Hutchinson to drop down in desperation. That opened the net for Vrbata, who sent in his 28th goal of the year to give the Canucks a 3-2 lead.
If we can rewind to late 2nd period, just for a moment... https://t.co/bgGc6Fxpn4— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 25, 2015
Eddie Lack let by a pair of early goals, including one by Jiri Tlusty just 2:17 into the game as Winnipeg jumped out to a 2-0 lead. However, Lack settled down and shut the Jets down the rest of the way, making 26 saves in the process.
Hutchinson started strong, but struggled during the second period as he surrendered three goals in the span of 10 minutes. The Jets' goaltender made 25 saves on the night, but Vancouver's offensive outburst in the second proved to be too much.
It didn't take long for Winnipeg to get on the board as Tlusty beat Eddie Lack to give the Jets an early 1-0 lead. Linden Vey tripped while the Canucks attempted to get the puck out of their own zone, clearing a path for Tlusty to get the shot off, putting Winnipeg ahead on just their second shot of the night.
The Jets added to their lead early in the second period when Blake Wheeler poked the puck in at the crease for his 23rd goal of the year. You could sense a goal was coming when, after the Canucks couldn't get the puck out of their own zone for a change, both Lack and Yannick Weber lost their sticks in the process. The puck sat in the crease, and when Weber couldn't play it with his skate, Wheeler came in and jammed it home to put the Jets up 2-0 at 5:07.
But the Canucks are no strangers to falling behind early, and once again, they were able to erase an early deficit.
After a rather lackluster start to the second period in which the Canucks managed just a couple of shots on net, Chris Higgins got the Canucks on the board with his 10th goal of the season at 10:57. Higgins took a nice backhanded pass from Radim Vrbata, sending a one-timer past Hutchinson.
Higgins became the 10th Canuck to score at least 10 goals this season. Vancouver may not have a guy who is a threat to score 60 goals, but only a handful of teams have been able to spread around the scoring like the Canucks have this year. You never know who is going to step up on any given night, and that can be a very useful tool to have in your back pocket.
Late in the second period, Vrbata got slashed hard by Tlusty and threw his glove off in pain. After a quick break, Vrbata was right back in there for the power play.
During the power play, the Canucks managed to control the puck for the duration of the advantage. Finally, as the fans started to get antsy, Weber took a pass from Henrik Sedin, unleashing a one-timer from the slot to tie the game at 2-2. The goal was Weber's eighth of the year, a new career-high for the Canucks defenseman.
Career-high eight goals anyone? HOW ABOUT YOU WEBER! https://t.co/McGZ41CIqk— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 25, 2015
Two minutes after Tlusty opened the scoring, Nick Bonino nearly tied up the game for the Canucks. After taking a backhand feed from Luca Sbisa, Bonino had an open look at the side of the net, but was denied twice by Hutchinson as the game remained 1-0 in favor of the Jets.
Later in the first period, Dan Hamhuis had a great chance at his first goal of the year. Bonino hit Hamhuis, who rushed into the slot for a one-timer, but the hard slap shot was turned away by Hutchinson to keep the Jets out front and also keep Hamhuis without a goal yet this season. Last season, Hamhuis scored five goals in 79 games.
Henrik Sedin and Vrbata both scored on Winnipeg's empty net in the final minute to wrap up the clutch win.
The Canucks have two more games on this homestand before their final road trip of the season. Vancouver will welcome the Avalanche to town on Thursday, followed by the Stars on Saturday. After that, the Canucks will face perhaps their toughest test in the season when they hit the road to face the Predators, Blues and Blackhawks, all who have at least 94 points this year.