A back and forth game. A lucky bounce. And a Canucks win.
That's how it went down at Rogers Arena Tuesday, as the hometown Canucks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime. It was lively contest, with scoring chances and rushes aplenty, but when Avalanche defenceman Jonas Holos carried the puck too close to his own net, Mason Raymond poked it off his stick and past goaltender Peter Budaj.
"It's unfortunate the way it ended," said Colorado coach Joe Sacco, noting that the rookie from Norway should have circled behind his net.
Jeff Tambellini, Ryan Kesler and Peter Schaefer, who really needed one, scored for Vancouver, and goaltender Roberto Luongo made 36 saves for the victory, which should quell premature talk of a goaltender controversy in the Canucks crease.
Budaj made 27 stops, and he may have to make many more given what happened to starter Craig Anderson in the warm up. Anderson needed help off the ice after sustaining a knee injury that will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
Colorado led 1-0 and 2-1 on goals by David Jones and Daniel Winnik, but needed a late, six-on-five tally from Matt Duchene to earn a loser point. The visitors also set an NHL record thanks to John-Michael Liles, who notched an assist.
That made Liles the first defenceman in league history to register an assist in the first nine games of a new season. He remains tied with Henrik Sedin and Anaheim's Rayn Getzlaf for the NHL lead in helpers (11).
Vancouver is 4-0-1 at home, and hometown boy Tambellini continues to benefit by playing with the Sedin twins on the top forward combination. Alex Burrows (shoulder) is ready to return next week, but Tambellini, raised a Canucks fan in suburban Vancouver, is making his case to remain in the regular lineup.
Schaefer did, too, although he hardly received a ringing endorsement from head coach Alain Vigneault. A perfect Schaefer shot gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead five minutes into the third period.
Manny Malhotra's line hemmed the Avs into their own zone for an extended period, and Schaefer finished them off. Vigneault noted the former Ottawa Senator, who is coming back after two years out of the league, "didn't play much" and that he wasn't responsible for all the zone time.
Indeed. Schaefer logged only six minutes and 42 seconds of ice-time. The goal was his first point in nine games this year. Normally a winger, he is being used a fourth-line centre.
"It's nice to get it off my back," Schaefer said.