- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - After three straight comeback victories, the surprising Vancouver Canucks showed they can also protect a lead.

Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves and Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner in the third period Thursday night as Vancouver downed the Buffalo Sabres 2-1, a victory that left the Canucks as the NHL’s only undefeated team on the young season.

“Just coming back in games, that was huge early,” Sedin said. “Those first two, three games where we came back from behind, that’s when you realize you can play your system. Keep playing your system, even when you’re down 3-0, it’s going to pay off.

“That’s calmed everyone down and made everyone really believe we can do it.”

Not expected to do much this season after missing the playoffs two of the last three years, the Canucks (4-0-0) scored a shootout win followed by consecutive overtime victories despite trailing through two periods in each game to become the first team in league history to win its first three outings while never holding a regulation lead in any of those games.

Thursday’s formula was a little different, but the result turned out the same.

“We don’t want to be coming from behind in the third period in every single game,” said Jannik Hansen, who scored the 100th goal of his career to open the scoring. “It’s not something you can do over a long stretch.”

Brandon Sutter added two assists as Vancouver won for the fourth time in six nights, tying a franchise mark set in 1992-93 for victories to start a season.

“We talked before the game, you can’t get down by a goal or two and wake up,” Sutter said. “We wanted to come out and get that first one and we did. We probably didn’t play as good as we wanted to in the second half, but we will take the points.”

Nicholas Baptiste scored his first NHL goal in his second game for the Sabres (1-2-1), who got 18 saves from Robin Lehner.

“It’s obviously exciting for me, but we didn’t get the win and that’s unfortunate,” Baptiste said. “I’m happy to get that first one.”

The Canucks led 1-0 through two periods and stretched that lead to two at 9:10 of the third when their power play - 0 for 12 up to that point this season - finally connected. Lehner robbed Sutter at the side of the net, but Loui Eriksson fed a nice pass to Sedin, who buried his second.

“It was good to get one,” Sedin said. “I think everyone’s going to relax a little bit and start moving the puck better.”

The Sabres‘ penalty kill had gone a perfect 11 for 11 before Vancouver struck.

“It may be my fault,” Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. “I happened to see the number before going out for the third period. They were at zero and we were at 100 percent and they get the power-play goal. I regret that a little bit.”

But the Sabres kept coming, and after Ryan O’Reilly had a great chance that Alexander Edler swept off the goal line, Baptiste scored a strange one. The rookie forward threw the puck in front and it struck Vancouver’s Jack Skille as he battled with Nicolas Deslauriers. The puck caromed toward Markstrom’s net, off Edler’s stick and in at 11:23.

The Sabres had a couple of looks from there, but a late penalty for too many men on the ice took the wind out of their sails before the Canucks held on with Lehner on the bench for an extra attacker.

Markstrom, 3-0-0 this season, made his second straight start in place of Ryan Miller, who served as the backup after sitting out last game with general tightness.

“I love every second out there,” Markstrom said. “When stuff like this happens you have to be ready to come in and play.”

Vancouver was just 3-30-1 when trailing after 40 minutes last season, and each victory in 2016-17 before Thursday came after the club trailed through two periods. The Canucks didn’t require a comeback Thursday after Hansen scored at 11:10 of the second, the Canucks‘ first lead in 218:22 this season.

NOTES: The Sabres were once again without injured Fs Jack Eichel (ankle) and Evander Kane (ribs) as they wrapped up a three-game road trip through western Canada that also included a 6-2 win over Edmonton and a 4-3 overtime loss in Calgary.

UP NEXT:

Sabres: are off until Tuesday, when they visit Philadelphia.

Canucks: will hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday in Los Angeles.

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