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Zack Kassian scores game-winner as Canucks go duck hunting in 2-1 win over Anaheim

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Despite being outplayed much of the night, the Canucks found a way to grind out a tough win against the NHL's top team.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

For almost the entire game, the Ducks were outplaying the Canucks. But with the game tied 1-1 in the final minutes of regulation, Zack Kassian came away with the game-winning goal as the Canucks took down the top dog in the NHL, defeating Anaheim 2-1 on Monday night at Rogers Arena.

Heading into tonight, the Ducks had not lost a one-goal game in regulation all season. Kassian made sure that wouldn't be the case.

After the Canucks surrendered their 1-0 lead, Kassian put Vancouver back out in front off a nifty pass from Dan Hamhuis. The goal was Kassian's 10th of the year, and it couldn't have come at more opportune moment for Vancouver.

Eddie Lack was dominant in net once again for the Canucks, making 29 saves on the night. Perhaps none were bigger than when Vancouver found themselves shorthanded just 35 seconds into the period after an Alex Edler hooking penalty.

With the Ducks on the power play, Corey Perry almost tied the game up, but a quick pad save from Lack preserved Vancouver's lead.

Then, with 57 seconds to go, Alex Edler was sent off for slashing, allowing the Ducks to go on a 6-on-4 power play with the net empty, needing just one goal to tie things up. But Lack and the Canucks stepped up defensively to run out the clock for the win.

Of course, sometimes Lack has a bit of luck on his side, and that was certainly the case on Monday night. Perry almost gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead late in regulation as he tipped in a shot from the net past Lack. Fortunately, the puck stopped right at the goal line, which would be confirmed after a brief video review.

On Vancouver's third shot of the game, Bo Horvat opened the scoring at 9:57 when he came up with a loose puck at the right face-off circle, sniping a shot past Frederik Andersen. The goal was Horvat's 11th goal of the season, tied for ninth among rookies in the NHL.

If you feel like it's been a while since the Canucks scored first, you're not alone. The last time the Canucks struck first in a game was in a 4-0 win over the Islanders on February 22. The last time the Canucks scored first in a non-shutout was back on February 14 in a 3-2 loss to the Flames. During that stretch since Valentine's Day, the Canucks have gone 6-4-1, so it's not the end of the world when they fall behind early.

The Ducks finally beat Lack midway through the third period as Emerson Etam skated into the slot and sent in a one-timer off the feed from Nate Thompson at 8:40. The goal, tying the game at 1-1, came on Anaheim's 26th shot of the game.

After Etam's goal, it was like a switch had been flipped for the Canucks. Suddenly, Frederik Andersen was left literally scrambling to keep the puck out of his net. One of the best chances came when Shawn Matthias had a rebound opportunity in the slot, but whiffed on the shot attempt.

Of course, no game against the Ducks is complete without some drama surrounding Ryan Kesler. Early in the first period, Zack Kassian leveled Kesler with a punishing hit. Kesler, who didn't take too kindly to the hit, then made a run at Chris Tanev, who was just returning to the lineup from injury.

The Ducks outplayed Vancouver in the first period with 28 shot attempts compared to just eight shot attempts for the Canucks, but still led 1-0 after 20 minutes thanks to more fabulous goaltending by Lack. The official shots on net during the first period were 12-5 in favor of Anaheim.

The Canucks continued to struggle to get shots on net during the second period. In fact, fans would even get excited as a shot attempt developed.

Late in the second period, Patrick Maroon decided he was going to pick a fight with Zack Kassian. But after Kass started throwing the punches like the wild man he is, Maroon immediately realized what a bad decision he had made. You can be sure Kassian let him hear about it in the penalty box.

The Canucks now sit three points ahead of the Flames in the Pacific, and 11 points behind the Ducks with 16 games to go. Vancouver is back at it on Thursday when the LA Kings come to town.