Mikael Samuelsson had two goals and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks returned home from an NHL-record 14-game away trip to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Saturday night. The Canucks, playing at home for the first time since January 27, showed no sign of road weariness as they dominated their Canadian opponents, limiting them to just 14 shots.
"We were just excited to get back," said the Canucks' goalie, Roberto Luongo. "It's been such a long time that we haven't played here and guys were just excited to play in front of the home fans." Samuelsson, who was taking his season goal tally to 30, has scored in each of his last six games, and seven times in his last four. "When you score some goals, you see a lot of net and I do right now," he said. "I've scored five in a row [before], but nothing like this."
Samuelsson's goalscoring has been a by-product of playing on a line with fellow Swedes Daniel and Henrik Sedin. "It's no secret those two guys are really good, they find each other really good and right now I try to stay open and get the puck once in a while," Samuelsson said. "We think the game in the same way." Vancouver went into the match against the Senators after having played eight games away from home before the Olympic break and six after it, amassing an 8-6 record.
The reason for the prolonged trip was that their GM Place home was the main ice hockey venue for the Winter Games in Vancouver - during which it was temporarily renamed Canada Hockey Place because of Olympic rules preventing corporate sponsors' names being used in connection with venues. Saturday's game was the first of five in a row at home for Vancouver, who play nine of their remaining 14 regular-season matches at GM Place. The win also moved the Canucks five points ahead of Colorado in the race for the Northwest Division title.
"I don't know what to say about that effort," said Cory Clouston, the Ottawa coach. "They played like it was a play-off game and we weren't ready to step our game up." Elsewhere in the NHL, Chris Pronger scored with 2.1secs remaining to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Scott Hartnell, who helped set up the goal, had scored just two minutes earlier as the hosts came from 2-1 down to record a thrilling win.
"That was huge," Pronger said. "We didn't want to make this go into overtime or a shoot-out. "I just knew the time was clicking down pretty quick. We have to continue to play with that type of desperation." After a disappointing 5-1 loss to Boston on Thursday night the Flyers were determined not to let it turn into a losing streak. "We showed we can play with one of the best teams in the league," said Michael Leighton, the Philadelphia goalie.
"We just had a really good, all-around game." firstname.lastname@example.org