Vancouver looked to their backup goalie, Curtis Sanford, tonight and it showed as Buffalo beat the Canucks 5 to 2. Sanford settled in midway through the second period, but by then he had coughed up three goals in the first. Buffalo scored just six seconds into an early Puck Over Glass penalty on Willie Mitchell, with Spacek blasting one home with Vanek providing a partial screen. Clarke MacArthur cleaned up the mess on the second goal, also on the power play (provided by yet another guy trying to bash in the back of Kaleta’s head). Kotalik had the third goal, on a wrist shot that it appear was stopped under Sanford…until he moved and the puck popped out and into the net.
Ryan Kesler brought the Canucks back within two at the start of the second period, but it was Thomas Vanek who extended the lead back to three with a very nice backhand. It was his 6th of the year, and as the AP points out, he didn’t have that until game 21 last year.
Steve Bernier scored in the third period, assisted by one of the Sedins – how do they know they don’t switch off night to night? – but an outstanding play from Vanek helped put the game away later on. Vanek raced past the defense on a breakaway and was pulled down to one knee, but managed to backhand a pass right to Kotalik who slammed it home.
Clarke MacArthur played very well tonight, winning some battles and looking very comfortable in a first/second line role. Sekera was great too, it gets easy to forget about Campbell when he is out on the power play. I am worried about Henrik Tallinder, though. He just doesn’t come up with the puck in the corners like he used to, and I think he feels it. Hopefully he can pull it together.
Buffalo is on the way to Atlanta for a game tomorrow night. I expect Lalime to start, otherwise the lineup should be the same.