Naslund, H. Sedin Lift Canucks Over Flames

Monday, November 19th 2007, 7:54 am
By: News On 6

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks didn't blink after defenseman Mattias Ohlund was given a four-game suspension.

After losing Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa to injury in the same game earlier this month, the Canucks were already comfortable being short-handed in their own end.

``There was not much talk about (the suspension),'' C said after making 29 saves in the Canucks' 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.

Nor should there be much discussion. Vancouver has gone 5-0-1 despite missing its three best defensemen.

``The guys were aware what happened to us after the first two guys went down so we didn't really need to talk about it,'' Roberto Luongo said. ``I think we're playing the system really well right now.''

Markus Naslund and Henrik Sedin each had a goal and an assist, and Willie Mitchell and Brad Isbister scored their first goals of the season. Daniel Sedin added two assists for Vancouver, which had lost four of five and was three games below .500 before injuries forced the Canucks to tighten up in their own zone.

``Systematically, we're much more sound, it's night and day,'' said Willie Mitchell, who helped kill three straight penalties just before scoring his first goal in 46 games.

``Passes are there, support is there and coverage is there. We were forced into that with all the injuries.''

In other NHL games Sunday, it was Detroit 5, Columbus 4 in a shootout, and Minnesota 4, Colorado 1.

Adrian Aucoin scored for the Flames, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Miikka Kiprusoff started again for the Flames, even though he backstopped a win Saturday night in Edmonton. He has played every game this season and finished with 17 saves Sunday.

Calgary has lost six of eight.

``I guess the bottom line, the word to use, would be inconsistency,'' Flames coach Mike Keenan said.

The Canucks lost Ohlund to a four-game NHL suspension after his baseball swing Friday left Minnesota forward Mikko Koivu with a cracked bone in his left leg. Lukas Krajicek took Ohlund's place, returning a few games earlier than expected after missing 3 1/2 weeks with a broken bone in his ankle.

``The boys beared down,'' said Roberto Luongo, who has a .946 save percentage since the injuries. ``We lost another D-man so guys just picked up the pace again and it was a really good effort from our group, especially in our own zone.''

The Flames were also without a top defenseman most of the game after Robyn Regehr took a slap shot from Krajicek in the ear just 1:31 into the game. He was held out for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons.

``It was a big loss early but we've got no complaints because you look at their roster and the people they have out, arguably their top-three defensemen,'' Mike Keenan said. ``(Regehr) will be evaluated (Monday). I think he's fine.''

Wild 4, Avalanche 1

At St. Paul, Minnesota, Matt Foy scored for the first time in more than two years, Aaron Voros and Brent Burns added goals for the second time in two games, and Minnesota beat Colorado.

Stephane Veilleux also scored for the Wild, who won for the fourth time in 12 games and moved past the Avalanche atop the Northwest Division. James Sheppard, who centered Foy and Voros in the Wild's makeshift lineup, had two assists.

Milan Hejduk scored for Colorado, which has been outscored 10-2 in losing two straight after going 7-1-1 in its previous nine games.

Red Wings 5, Blue Jackets 4, SO

At Columbus, Ohio, Johan Franzen scored the winning shootout goal in the fifth round of the tiebreaker and Detroit snapped a three-game losing streak.

Chris Osgood stopped Sergei Fedorov to keep the Red Wings in the game and then gloved David Vyborny's shot to end it.

Nicklas Lidstrom had a goal and two assists for the Red Wings, who rallied late to tie it. Tomas Holmstrom and Pavel Datsyuk each had a goal and an assist, and Brett Lebda also scored.

Osgood made 36 saves and is 9-1 this season.

Fedorov also scored in regulation and Nikolai Zherdev and Rick Nash had a goal and two assists for the host Blue Jackets, who have dropped six of seven including two shootout defeats.