VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It was one of those sequences where everyone in the building could feel a goal coming.
With the Vancouver Canucks trailing 1-0 late in the third period Saturday night, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, along with new linemate Loui Eriksson, played keepaway in the Calgary zone for the majority of a two-minute shift, searching for the tying goal against the weary Flames.
“(The Sedins) have that ability. They’re big-game players, and they sense it,” Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said. “Their whole career’s been that way.
“They know they have the other team on the ropes and they go after it.”
Henrik Sedin finally found an opening when he fed the puck between his legs to Eriksson, whose deflected pass in front was batted home by Daniel Sedin with 3:51 left in regulation. Brandon Sutter then capped the night with the only goal of the shootout as Vancouver beat Calgary 2-1.
“It felt really good at the time,” Daniel Sedin said of the shift that saw the Canucks finally break through. “They were tired. They were just standing still. It was nice to see it go in.”
Sutter beat Calgary goalie Chad Johnson through the five-hole on the winner in the fourth round of the shootout after Ryan Miller, who made 25 saves through overtime, stopped all four attempts by the Flames at the other end.
“We just stuck with it,” Sutter said. “We bounced back well and that shift that Danny, Hank and Loui put in for two minutes was pretty impressive.”
Troy Brouwer was credited with the game’s first goal in the opening period after Eriksson, who was making his Vancouver debut, put the puck into his own net on a delayed penalty. Johnson made 30 stops in his first start for Calgary which remained winless through three games (0-2-1).
Calgary opened the scoring at 9:14 of the first after Miller went to the Vancouver bench for an extra attacker with Brouwer about to be penalized for holding. Eriksson circled away from the Flames blue line before throwing a pass towards his own zone from near centre in hopes of finding a teammate.
The only problem was the Canucks were in the middle of a line change, and defenceman Erik Gudbranson couldn’t get back in time before the puck slid across the goal line in front of a stunned Rogers Arena crowd.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Brouwer said. “It was a bizarre sequence. I have never scored a goal and gone to the box at the same time.”
The goal was originally credited to Brett Kulak — which would have been the first of the rookie defenseman’s NHL career — but was later given to Brouwer, who now has two on the year.
“I don’t think I’ve ever scored a goal where I didn’t touch the puck,” Brouwer said.
In another twist, the goal also went into the stat line as an empty netter because Miller was already off the ice.
“It’s a weird way to catalog it,” said Miller. “Didn’t let one in and don’t get the shutout, but to get a win on opening night and help get us started in the right direction, I would have taken anything.”
For his part, Eriksson said he didn’t even realize Miller had left his crease.
“As soon as I put it up there I saw it was an empty net and I was like: ‘What is going on here,'” Eriksson said. “It slowly just glided in there. That was a tough one, but we won the game. That’s the important thing.”
The Flames and Canucks are both coming off disappointing 2015-16 campaigns that saw them miss the playoffs after making the postseason the previous year.
But while Calgary is expected to rebound, Vancouver has been picked by many experts to finish at the bottom of the standings.
“We stuck with our game plan and didn’t panic,” Daniel Sedin said. “I thought overall we played a decent game.”
NOTES: The Canucks were the last of the NHL’s 30 teams to open the regular season, while the Flames opened with losses to Edmonton in a home-and-home set. … Calgary gave up 12 goals in the two losses to Edmonton after allowing a league-high 260 last season.
Flames: At Buffalo on Tuesday night.
Canucks: Host Carolina on Sunday night in the second game of their season-opening four-game homestand.