Canucks down Senators in shootout thriller
If Friday's contest between the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks was a preview of the 2006 Stanley Cup final, hockey fans should start counting the days until the playoffs start.
Goaltender Alexander Auld made stops on Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Mike Fischer, while Daniel Sedin scored the winning goal in the shootout to lift the Canucks to a thrilling 3-2 win over the Senators at home.
Daniel Alfredsson was the only Senator to score in the shootout.
Dominik Hasek made saves on Canuck captain Markus Naslund and Ryan Kesler. Todd Bertuzzi scored for Vancouver after Alfredsson's goal to keep the Canucks alive in the shootout.
With the win, the Canucks improved their home record to 13-1-0. Vancouver has won six straight on home ice since their only loss at GM Place this season, a 5-3 setback to Colorado on Nov. 10.
Vancouver also moved into a first-place tie with the Calgary Flames in the Northwest Division. The Canucks have a game in hand on Calgary.
The Senators lost for only the third time on the road after winning eight of their last nine games.
Friday's contest lived up to its billing, with end-to-end action, plenty of scoring chances and outstanding goaltending from two of the best teams in the NHL.
Hasek made 36 saves, while Auld turned aside 21 shots.
Vancouver struck first after Spezza took a two-minute penalty for goaltender interference just 34 seconds into the game.
On the ensuing power play, Naslund scored his 16th goal of the season when he took a Bertuzzi pass along the boards and beat Hasek with a quick wrist shot at 1:07
Fischer's hooking penalty gave the Canucks another early power play, but it was the Senators who scored when Peter Schaefer netted a short-handed goal at 3:14. The ex-Canuck beat Auld with a shot on a two-on-one with Bryan Smolinski.
Henrik Sedin found the back of the net with just over two minutes left in the period to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead going into the intermission. Henrik collected a rebound and fired the puck past Ottawa defenceman Chris Phillips with Hasek out of his net.
After a scoreless second period, the Senators knotted the score when defenceman Andrej Meszaros bagged his first goal of the campaign at 5:01 of the third. Meszaros's shot from the point deflected off Vancouver defenceman Bryan Allen before beating Auld.
In the shootout, Sedin beat Hasek with a stick-side wrist shot from 15 feet out to give Vancouver its second straight victory.
Ottawa plays Calgary on Saturday (CBC, 10 p.m. ET) in the third contest of its four-game road trip.
Vancouver will have a few days off before taking on the Rangers in New York next Tuesday.