Defenseman Brad Lukowich scored a third-period goal and the Vancouver Canucks earned a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
Thomas Vanek tied the game on a power play 1:49 into the period, but Henrik and Daniel Sedin combined on a nice play to set up Lukowich for the winner. After taking a pass from twin brother Henrik, Daniel cut into the slot before making a between-the-legs drop pass to Lukowich pinching in hard from the point.
Lukowich, who was in the American Hockey League until recently because of the Canucks' salary cap issues to start the season, quickly snapped a shot over Ryan Miller's glove at 5:21 of the third period for his first goal since Nov. 5, 2007.
Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin also scored and Daniel Sedin had two assists for the Canucks, who have won five straight games for the first time since March 2007. Roberto Luongo made 30 saves as Vancouver improved to 12-2-2 over its past 16 games to move into a tie with Colorado atop the Northwest Division.
Adam Mair also scored, and Miller made 22 saves as the Sabres dropped the final four games of season-long seven-game road trip.
Making their first visit in four years and looking for their first win in Vancouver since 1999, the Sabres took the lead on Mair's first goal of the season 3:13 into the second period.
Samuelsson tied it five minutes later, cutting into the middle on a 2-on-2 rush and sliding a backhand between Miller's legs, and Henrik Sedin gave the Canucks the lead on a breakaway 3:20 after that. Sent in by Alex Burrows, Sedin faked to his backhand to draw Miller to his left, stopped and reached back around to tuck it in on the forehand. The assist extended Burrows' point streak to 12 games (13 goals, six assists).
Buffalo appeared to tie the game on a short-handed rush with 33.6 seconds left in the second period, but was waved off and the Sabres were given another penalty.
After Ryan Kesler's power-play shot hit off the crossbar, the Sabres broke out on an odd-man rush and Craig Rivet's shot went in off the hand of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. But referee Kerry Fraser called Buffalo forward Paul Gaustad for cross-checking Ehrhoff into the net instead, giving the Canucks a 5-on-3 advantage.
Miller made a couple of good stops before the period ended, a Kesler elbow ended the advantage early in the third, and the Sabres tied it on the ensuing power play. Vanek's deflection of Tim Connolly's shot went off the post, off Luongo and trickled over the line, extending Connolly's point streak to 16 games _ the longest active run in the NHL _ with seven goals and 18 assists.
A scoreless first period was highlighted by a matchup of Olympic goalies, with likely American starter Miller turning away US teammate Kesler on a breakaway just 2:21 in. Not to be outdone, Team Canada goalie Luongo, who was playing behind a blue line missing three of its top-four defenders, threw out his left pad to stop Mike Grier from point-blank range with 4:30 left in the period.
Vancouver improved to 9-1-0 against teams from the Eastern Conference, while the Sabres slipped to 8-3-2 against Western Conference opponents.
Notes: Buffalo RW Drew Stafford was a late scratch with the flu. Canucks D Willie Mitchell missed a fourth straight game as coach Alain Vigneault confirmed before the game he suffered a concussion after being hit head-first into the boards by Evgeni Malkin late in a 6-2 win over the Penguins on Jan. 16. He is listed day to day, but hasn't resumed skating. Sami Salo (groin) is also day to day, while Kevin Bieksa (ankle surgery) is out indefinitely. Canucks RW Rick Rypien returned after missing three games with the flu.
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