The Vancouver Canucks threw Cory Schneider into the fire, and although the rookie goalie held his own, he ended up getting singed by the Calgary Flames.
Schneider was outstanding in his NHL debut, making 28 saves Saturday in a 3-1 loss to the hometown Flames, who swept the home-and-home series between the Northwest Division rivals.
Schneider was pleased with his performance, but would have been happier if the Canucks had won.
"It was bittersweet. I had a lot of fun out there, it was exciting and I think I answered a few questions about myself, but at the same time we didn't get the [win]," Schneider told Hockey Night in Canada after the game.
Schneider was told during the team's morning skate that he would get the start against the Flames. The 22-year-old product of Boston College said he had no trouble adapting to the level of play in the NHL.
"It's the same game. It's obviously faster and more skilled and the shots are more dangerous, but you get it going in your head that it's a dream to play in the NHL," said Schneider.
The Canucks called up Schneider after starting goalie Roberto Luongo suffered a groin injury in last Saturday's win in Pittsburgh. Curtis Sanford started the previous three games for the Canucks, but coach Alain Vigneault felt the time was right to give Schneider a chance on Saturday.
"Cory played solid, he kept us in the game," Vigneault told reporters. "In the second and third, we weren't good enough and give them credit, they were executing well and were on top of their game and they deserved to win".
Schneider, the Canucks' first-round pick (26th overall) in the 2004 draft, posted an impressive 10-1 and a 1.37 goals-against average with the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose before being called up by Vancouver.
Daymond Langkow, David Moss and Matthew Lombardi scored for the Flames, who won 4-3 in Vancouver on Thursday night, and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff turned aside 17 shots to earn his 14th win of the season.
"It was real big effort from all the guys. All four lines battled and our defencemen did everything they had to do. We knew [the Canucks] were going to come out strong after we got the big win in Vancouver. They worked hard, but we had an answer for it," Lombardi said in a post-game interview with HNIC.
Schneider showed no signs of fear or apprehension against the Flames, impressing Luongo with his poise and composure as he made 11 saves in the opening period.
"He's looked great. He's been steady, he's looked good technically and when the pucks are hitting you, you know you're doing a good job," Luongo told HNIC during the first intermission.
The Canucks shot-stopper continued to thwart the Flames in the middle frame before Calgary crowded the area in front of his net while on the power play and Langkow tipped in Dion Phaneuf's point shot past a screened Schneider with 39 seconds left in the period.
David Moss made it 2-0 for Calgary at 6:11 of the third, taking a short pass from Curtis Glencross and streaking over the Canucks' blue-line before firing the puck underneath the pads of Schneider.
Schneider said it was a shot he should have stopped.
"It was a two-on-one and I read the shot, so I was sliding over to take it away. I was anticipating a high shot and he put it hard back to my trailing leg and I wasn't able to get it down in time. Obviously, it was one I would like to have had back, especially with us down a goal in the third period," said Schneider.
Calgary seemed to have the game well in hand, but the Canucks fought back and made it a one-goal contest at 11:26 when Kyle Wellwood notched his ninth goal of the season. Jannik Hansen dug the puck out of the corner and fed a gorgeous back-handed pass across the slot to Wellwood who beat Kiprusoff with a one-timer.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla snuffed out any chance of a Canucks comeback, setting up a Lombardi goal with 1:22 left in regulation.