VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - After falling behind early in a must-win game, the Vancouver Canucks persevered and extended their first-round series.
Daniel Sedin scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the Canucks avoided elimination Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
“These are fun games to be part of. It’s do or die,” Sedin said. “We played a solid 60 minutes. It was probably our best game of the series. We’ve had some good periods, but tonight was a 60-minute effort.”
Nick Bonino had the other goal for Vancouver, and Ryan Miller had 20 saves in his first start in the series after replacing Eddie Lack in Game 4.
“It was just a grind. I thought the guys did a great job getting pucks to the net,” Miller said. “We had the puck in their zone. Give the guys credit for working real hard. We created enough to win.”
David Jones scored and Jonas Hiller stopped 41 shots for Calgary, which will have to wait at least another game to secure its first series win since the team’s run to the 2004 Stanley Cup final.
“I’m very proud of the players. They did a great job,” Flames head coach Bob Hartley said. “We battled and we battled. We’re facing a great organization that knows how to win. It’s a special team and they deserve the credit for this win.”
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday night at Calgary.
After the Flames were whistled for icing in the opening minutes of the third period, the Canucks put out their top line for the offensive-zone faceoff. Sedin took advantage, shoveling Dan Hamhuis’ rebound through Hiller’s pads at 1:47 for his second goal of the series.
“We’ve been trying different faceoff plays and tonight it paid off at the right time,” Sedin said. “It hit my stick, but not much. I was fortunate.
“I thought I missed it at first, but somehow it went toward the net.”
Vancouver had to kill off a Calgary power play midway through the period when Hamhuis was whistled for firing the puck over the glass, with Miller making a big stop from Miller on Joe Colborne from the slot.
The Flames had another man advantage with under 6 minutes to go when Henrik Sedin went off for hooking, but didn’t get a single shot on target against Miller.
“The guys were running the system really well,” Miller said. “(The Flames) have some good shooters up top and they have some guys who can really handle the puck low, so for us to be aggressive and maintain that composure is nice to see.”
Calgary was unable to get the equalizer as Vancouver stayed alive in front of a raucous towel-waving crowd at Rogers Arena.
“We knew it was going to be a fight this series and we expect nothing less,” Flames defenseman Kris Russell said. “We have to make sure we have our best effort next game.”
Down 1-0 after the first period, Vancouver it with 6:29 left in the second after a good cycle down low when Bonino took a pass from Radim Vrbata and ripped a shot under the crossbar from the faceoff dot for his first of the playoffs.
“We were pressing all period,” Bonino said. “I think that goal started 10 minutes before that with every line rolling over. I was the one to get it, but it started earlier and definitely felt pretty good.”
With the Canucks then trying to grab the lead at the other end, Miller was forced into a good save on TJ Brodie to keep things even as Vancouver held a 34-16 shot edge through 40 minutes.
The Flames went up 1-0 just 2:40 into the first period when Jones jumped on a turnover by Alexander Edler and fired short-side on Miller for his second goal of the series.
Calgary could have added to its lead early in the second, but Colborne hit the post a minute in before Mason Raymond saw the puck roll off his stick on a clear breakaway.
Calgary’s Dennis Wideman also had a chance on the power play moments later only to see his shot hit the post behind Miller and stay out.
Miller was making just his second start since February because of a knee injury and readily admits he’s less than 100 percent healthy.
“You just have to go out there and give it your best,” the 34-year-old said. “My mindset was I can still battle, I can still give 100 per cent of my commitment in my mind and my focus.”
Vancouver had some great chances to tie it later in the period, but Jannik Hansen’s one-timer from the point clanked off iron before Vrbata’s effort on a man advantage also hit the post.
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