Canucks honour Linden with a win
How's this for a tribute to Trevor Linden: a hard-nosed victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
The Canucks did just that, beating their Western Canadian rivals 4-2 after their former captain's number was retired on Wednesday night in Vancouver.
Daniel Sedin scored two of the Canucks' three second-period goals as Vancouver (18-11-3) won its second straight to keep pace with Calgary atop the Northwest Division.
Dustin Penner and Sam Gagner scored in the third period for Edmonton (14-14-2), but Jannik Hansen's empty netter with 46 seconds left quashed any thoughts of a comeback.
Celebrated for his toughness, talent and off-ice charitable work during his 19 NHL seasons — 16 spent in Vancouver — Linden fought off tears as his No. 16 was raised to the rafters at GM Place in an hour-long pre-game ceremony.
"This is an incredible day," the Medicine Hat, Alta., native told the adoring sellout crowd. "To the fans of Vancouver and the province of B.C., it's hard to express my gratitude to you tonight.
"Thank you for letting me into your lives. Thanks for being incredible, passionate hockey fans."
Linden's sweater joined former teammate Stan Smyl's No. 12 as the only two jerseys retired by the Canucks.
"It's a great honour to be here tonight to celebrate with Trevor," said Smyl, who remains part of the Canucks organization. "It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since the two of us took to the ice together.
"To this day, I am very humbled to have my number hang in GM Place. Trevor, to share this honour with you is a great thrill."
'Set the perfect example'
The festivities included video tributes from luminaries such as former Canucks coach and GM Pat Quinn, ex-teammates Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison, golfer Mike Weir and NBA star Steve Nash, who was raised in Victoria.
The current Canucks players watched while wearing No. 16 jerseys with Linden's name on the back.
Defenceman Mattias Ohlund, Linden's roommate for seven years, said the long-time Canuck combined skill on the ice with commitment to the community.
"Everybody knows about the hockey player he was, but he also was a great teammate and mentor," said Ohlund. "He set the perfect example both on and off the ice."
Linden, who retired in June, was also honoured earlier in the day when the main entrance and reception area for guests entering GM Place was renamed Gate 16.
Linden played 1,382 NHL games with the Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. He had 375 goals and 492 assists for 867 points.
Perhaps his finest moment as a player was when he led the Canucks to Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup final before losing to the New York Rangers.
Linden, who never met a scrum or scramble he didn't like, was surely proud of the effort he saw in Wednesday's pivotal second period.
Sedin, who was mentioned along with twin brother Henrik as one of Linden's favourite teammates, took a page from his old captain's book to open the scoring on the power-play 1:14 into the second.
Absorbing a hit from sturdy Edmonton defenceman Steve Staios that knocked him into goalie Dwayne Roloson, Daniel got credit for the goal after the puck trickled in.
Less than three minutes later, Ryan Kesler made it 2-0 with a blue-collar effort of his own. Driving hard to the net with the puck, Kesler was denied on his first shot but stuck with it and banged home the loose puck.
Daniel Sedin struck again with 3:50 left in the period, converting Hansen's feed from behind the net.
Sedin later credited Linden for taking the twins under his wing after they were drafted second and third overall by Vancouver in 1999.
"He almost turned Henrik and my career around," said Daniel, who leads Vancouver with 14 goals. "He came in, taught us a lot and helped us get better. He was a big help to us.
"We talked to him a lot. He's been a big part of our success."
Penner scored an unassisted goal early in the third for the Oilers, and Gagner cut the deficit to one by seizing on a goal-mouth scramble with 1:29 left, but that's all Vancouver goalie Curtis Sanford would allow.
"We showed some resolve in the end and got ourselves back in the game," said Staios. "We kind of ran out of time."
The win came at a price for Vancouver as defenceman Sami Salo and Shane O'Brien both left the game with injures.
O'Brien was hurt in the first period after taking a hard hit behind the net from Edmonton's Zack Stortini. Salo, who had just returned to the lineup after missing three games with a groin injury, was driven into the end boards by Ethan Moreau late in the second period. He left the ice favouring an arm.
With files from the Canadian Press