For the fourth time the Vancouver Canucks were the first team to visit Honda Center, and for the third time they knocked off the Anaheim Ducks in their home opener.
Alexandre Burrows' third round shootout attempt squeaked through Frederik Andersen's five hole, and Ryan Miller's swooping poke-check knocked Corey Perry's final attempt away as the Canucks took a 2-1 shootout win at Honda Center on Monday night.
For the first regular season session of three-on-three overtime Vancouver survived a hooking penalty by Alexander Edler thanks in large part to the Ducks trying to create the 'perfect' look. A particular moment was Ryan Getzlaf taking a toe drag to the low slot with the Canucks defensive triangle collapsed to the front of the net, trying to force a pass across the slot that was intercepted and cleared. Vancouver outshot the Ducks 4-2 in overtime, while Anaheim outshot the Canucks 29-25, out-attempted them 67-53 in all situations and 55-37 at even strength.
"We tried to force plays in to areas that weren't there, when that happens and they get the clear it builds their momentum up and tears our down," coach Bruce Boudreau told Jill Painter-Lopez on the Prime Ticket broadcast after the game. "We've just gotta get back to the drawing board when it comes to four-on-threes."
The first two periods had a a consistent pace, with whistles few and far between as the Ducks created several chances but ended up being too fine in trying to set up opportunities. In the early going it was the Anaheim fourth line of Shawn Horcoff centering Patrick Maroon and Chris Stewart that put together the best shifts for the hosts, getting two extended spells in the attack zone and generating chances below the face off circles.
Sami Vatanen scored the game-opening goal 1:56 in to the second frame, hammering a slap shot from the right point through a screen by Mike Santorelli in front. Andrew Cogliano won a puck battle in the corner that chipped the puck back to the blue line, earning him the primary helper on the play, Santorelli getting the secondary assist. The restricted free agent to be Vatanen was aggressive all evening long, doing well to win the puck in the defensive zone and orchestrate offensively.
Vancouver leveled nearly six and a half minutes later, as the Canucks fourth line created a flurry of pressure off shots from odd angles. Andersen made a couple saves on the run of play, but a rebound came to Adam Cracknell at the bottom of the near circle, who fired a shot high to the stick side that deflected off the shoulder straight back in to the net. The second period ended with the teams tied at one apiece.
In the third period the game lost much of the flow it carried early, becoming much more herky-jerky with multiple stoppages in play and teams unable to establish many regular spells in the offensive zone. Getzlaf narrowly missed connecting with Corey Perry at the near post as Dan Hamhuis intervened at the moment of truth, while Jared McCann fired a wide open chance from between the circles over the net.
The game went to a shootout, with Jakob Silfverberg converting with his trademark sweep left, drag across the slot right move. Radim Vrbata equalized with a quick back and forth stickhandling move between the circles before sweeping to the backhand and scoring to the blocker side. Andersen denied McCann on the Canucks first shot, and Miller shut down Rickard Rakell going backhand to the stick side on the Ducks' second.
Anaheim continues their four game homestand on Wednesday against the Arizona Coyotes at 7:30 PM. The desert dogs are off to a 2-0-0 start, with wins at Los Angeles and in their home opener against Pittsburgh.