Hockey

Ducks nip Canucks on late goal

Saku Koivu scored with 4:13 remaining as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Saku Koivu did not seem to miss his old buddy Teemu Selanne very much Wednesday night.

Playing alongside upstart rookie Dan Sexton, Koivu scored the winning goal and added an assist as the Anaheim Ducks held off the hard-charging Vancouver Canucks for a 3-2 victory before a disappointed sellout crowd of 18,810 at General Motors Place.

"Teemu who?" Ducks coach Randy Carlyle asked rhetorically after Anaheim (13-13-7) posted its third win in four games.

The Canucks (19-15-1) saw their win streak end at three games. They have yet to record four straight victories this season.

Bobby Ryan, in the first period, and Ryan Getzlaf, in the second, also scored for Anaheim

Henrik Sedin and Steve Bernier replied for the Canucks, who were blanked on five power play chances while the Ducks scored on one of four.

The Ducks outshot the Canucks 34-30, including 13-2 in the first period and 24-13 after 40 minutes. Vancouver came alive in the third while trying to overcome a 2-1 deficit.

Koivu's power-play goal at 15:48 of the third period broke a 2-2 deadlock after the Canucks had rallied from a 2-1 deficit early in the third period.

With Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa serving a tripping penalty, Koivu tapped in a goalmouth pass from Kyle Calder after Sexton started the play with a cross-ice pass.

The assist was the second of the night for Sexton, who began the season in the ECHL and also spent time in the AHL. He extended his points streak to four games and now has seven points in six career NHL games.

"He's bringing a lot of positive things to our team right now, and he's getting the offence that we're looking for," said Koivu.

Ironically, the 22-year-old Apple Valley, Minn., native was on loan to Vancouver's Manitoba farm club when he was called up to help the slow-starting Ducks cope with the absence Selanne, who is out four to six weeks with a fractured hand.

"It's a big loss," said Koivu. "When he got hurt, he had [14 goals] and he was really playing well for us. Sometimes, you're hoping that other players will step up, and when that happens, the young players get an opportunity and a chance to play, and Sexton's really taking advantage of that right now. Hopefully, he can continue the success."

Koivu, the former Montreal Canadiens captain, signed as a free agent with the Ducks in the off-season largely because he wanted to play with longtime Finnish national teammate Selanne on a regular basis. Right now, he is thriving without him.

"The last two weeks has been the best he's played for our hockey club, and you can see in the determination that he displays and his compete [level] in the face-off circle and one-on-one for puck battles," said Carlyle. "He was battling with [Shane] O'Brien late in the hockey game. O'Brien's a six-foot-three, 225-pound defenceman and Saku Koivu is a five-foot-11, 180-pound player -- and he went toe to toe competing for pucks. That's a determination that he's been able to display throughout his career and we didn't have that fire earlier, for whatever reason. Maybe it's an adjustment period, but he sure is displaying it now."

'They have a lot of faith in me'

Sexton and Koivu set up Ryan as he opened scoring at 11:48 of the first period after O'Brien turned the puck over in the neutral zone. The rookie also helped linemates Koivu and Ryan extend their point streaks to four games.

"It's tough to kind of realize how far I've come to be here and be contributing on one of the top lines and playing on the power play," said Sexton. "It's good to know they have a lot of faith in me and I'm really happy to do what I can to help the team."  Henrik Sedin tied it 1-1, beating Jonas Hiller on Vancouver's second shot of the game at 17:07 of the first period. Henrik Sedin took a cross-ice pass from twin brother Daniel after the puck bounced over Ducks defenceman Scott Niedermayer's stick near the Anaheim blue-line.

Henrik Sedin leapfrogged New York Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik into second place in the NHL scoring race behind Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks as he and Daniel extended their point streaks to eight games apiece.

"It was not too many shots in the first period," said Hiller. "I kind of would have liked to start with some shots, especially when the second shot's going in. But it's part of the game. I never complain [about] not having shots on [my] net … because they're not able to score."

Luongo held the Ducks at bay until Getzlaf beat him on a rebound midway through the second period.

Fans protested the goal because, moments earlier, Calder tangled with Luongo and sent him to the ice momentarily. But Luongo wasn't using any excuses.

"They deserved to win the game," said Luongo. "We didn't. The sad part is it was 2-2 with five minutes left in the game. We had a chance to maybe bring the game to overtime and we take a penalty and they score."

After Bernier tied the game at 2-2 at 2:03 of the third, Hiller starred as he robbed Alex Burrows three times in the third and snared a Sami Salo slapshot in the late going.

"We were very fortunate that our goaltender brought his A game," said Vigneault. "He kept us in. The second was a more even tilt and then in the third I thought we outplayed them badly, but we took a penalty at a bad moment — and they made us pay for it." 

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