Canucks deal final blow to Flames' playoff hopes

Andrew Ebbett scored the winning goal with 1:02 left in overtime as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Saturday night, handing the Canucks first place overall in the West while the the Flames were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Vancouver vaults into 1st in West with OT win

Calgary Flames goalie Henrik Karlsson (35) looks on as Vancouver Canucks centre Maxim Lapierre (40) celebrates teammate Vancouver Canucks defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani's, not shown, goal during the third periodin Vancouver on Saturday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Andrew Ebbett scored the winning goal with 1:02 left in overtime as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Saturday night.

Ebbett deflected in defenceman Sami Salo's shot from in front of the Calgary net.

The winger was playing his first game since January, when he suffered a broken collarbone. He missed 35 straight games, but still produced his second game-winning goal of the season.

The Canucks (49-21-9) posted their sixth straight win -- all without injured scoring star Daniel Sedin (concussion) — and moved into first place in the Western Conference.

They also gained a share of first place overall in the NHL. In the West, Vancouver moved ahead of the St. Louis Blues, who lost pace as a result of a loss to Columbus.

The Flames (35-29-16) meanwhile were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

The Canucks and New York Rangers, who did not play Saturday, are tied for first place overall with 107 points each.

Max Lapierre and Marc-Andre Gragnani also scored for Vancouver.

Olli Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri scored for the Flames, who squandered a 2-1 lead.

The Canucks were blanked on two power-play chances while the Flames converted one of two. Vancouver outshot Calgary 34-33.

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo returned to action after he missed a scheduled start Friday because of a stiff neck.

Calgary goaltender Henrik Karlsson made his first start since he suffered a knee injury in Vancouver on Dec. 4. It was only his second appearance since then. He last played while mopping up for Miikka Kiprusoff in one period of action Feb. 21 against Edmonton.

Vancouver led 1-0 after the first period and the score was tied 1-1 after the second.

Lapierre opened the scoring 5:08 into the game as he took a Henrik Sedin pass off his skate and jammed it past Karlsson. It was Lapierre's second goal in two games, coinciding with his move to the top line Friday.

With Lapierre still on the first line, Ebbett slid into a vacancy on the fourth line. Ebbett had not played since shattering his collarbone Jan. 7 in Boston. Despite his long absence, he came close to scoring with 11 seconds left in the first period but could not stuff in a rebound.

Moments later, Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis rang a shot off both goalposts.

Jokinen created a 1-1 tie on a power play five and a half minutes into the second period as he put home a weak one-timer on a pass from Jarome Igina during a three-on-two rush. The odd-man situation came after Jannik Hansen made a rush into the Calgary zone but then decided to pass the puck back toward his own zone to help kill his club's penalty, but Iginla intercepted the puck and set up the goal.

Ryan Kesler was off for high-sticking at the time.

Cammalleri gave the Flames a 2-1 lead just 51 seconds into the third period as he one-timed a David Moss pass behind Luongo from about 10 feet inside the blue-line.

With just over 12 minutes left to play in the third, Luongo robbed Tom Kostopoulos to keep the score close.

Gragnani created a 2-2 deadlock at 11:45 of the third as he slapped in a pass from Alex Burrows with Lapierre trying to set a screen in front of the net. The puck appeared to go in off Karlsson.

It was Gragnani's first goal as a Canuck. He was acquired near the close of the Feb. 27 trading deadline as part of the deal that sent Cody Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres.