Flames falter against red-hot Canucks
VANCOUVER — A big grin stretched across Jordan Schroeder’s face as he poised for photographs in the Vancouver Canucks’ dressing room Saturday night holding both pucks from his first two NHL goals.
As the camera flashed someone asked Schroeder if he’d give one puck to his father and the other his mother.
“No, these will both be for me,” said the 22-year-old rookie.
For a player who always seems just thrilled to be part of the team it was a glimpse into the determination that got the undersized centre into the NHL.
Schroeder gave the Canucks the lead on a second-period power play, then added another goal in the third period as Vancouver defeated the Calgary Flames 5-1. His first goal came in the second period just 27 seconds after Alex Burrows had tied the game 1-1.
“It’s kind of a weight off your shoulders,” said Schroeder, the 2009 first-round draft pick who has played nine games as a Canuck. “You’re gripping your stick pretty tight.
“There’s excitement, relief. You want to get that first one so bad. To be able to get two in one night is always good.”
Add in the two assists he has this season and Schroeder has four career points. That leaves him just 751 behind Canuck captain Henrik Sedin.
“It’s a start,” laughed Schroeder.
Sedin, who had two assists in the win, is now just one point behind former captain Markus Naslund’s franchise-leading total of 756 points.
Typically, Sedin was more interested in praising Schroeder’s accomplishment rather than talking about the milestone he’s close to achieving.
“The second (goal) is usually the toughest one to get,” said Sedin, who has 171 goals and 584 assists in 12 years as a Canuck. “It’s nice to get it out of the way in one game. It’s great for him.”
Chris Higgins and Kevin Bieksa also scored for the Canucks who won their fifth consecutive game. Vancouver improved its record to 7-2-2.
Lee Stempniak scored for the Flames, who saw a two-game win-streak snapped. Calgary dropped to 3-4-2.
“They worked harder than us and we weren’t very good, we weren’t very sharp,” Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said in a quiet Flames’ dressing room.
“They had too many point-blank chances. It was a game that we obliviously wanted but not as much as them. They deserved it.”
What the five-foot-eight, 175-pound Schroeder lacks in size he compensates for with speed and the ability to go to the net.
On his first goal he was standing in the slot and re-directed a Alex Edler shot past Calgary goaltender Leland Irving. He used his speed on the second goal, directing the rebound of a Mason Raymond shot into the net.
“Anyone can go there,” Schroeder said about doing the dirty work in front of the net. “It’s whether you want to or not.
“That’s what you have to do to stay in the lineup and produce.”
Schroeder’s play drew praise from Burrows, who is no stranger to crashing and banging.
“Jordan has been playing so well for us, not only offensively but defensively,” said Burrows, who collected his third goal of the year.
“He’s been really reliable. Finally tonight he gets rewarded with some bounces going his way.”
Schroeder had scored the winner in a 2-1 shootout victory against the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 1 but that didn’t officially count as a goal.
Cory Schneider, making his second consecutive start in net for Vancouver, stopped 33 shots.
Irving, filling in for the injured Miikka Kiprusoff, made his first ever back-to-back start. He stopped 26 shots.
Calgary coach Bob Hartley was frustrated with the loss after seeing the Flames earn road victories in Detroit and Columbus.
“It’s a great trip but an awful way to end this trip,” he said.
“It’s sad because you are playing the Vancouver Canucks, arch rivals, division rivals, and you play a great first period and suddenly the game is over.”
Notes: The Flames were also playing without centres Mikael Backlund (knee) and Mike Cammalleri (hip), plus forward Sven Baertschi (hip). ... Canucks’ general manager Mike Gillis said in an interview Friday that unless he gets the right offer for goaltender Roberto Luongo he is prepared to keep both Luongo and Schneider for the remainder of the season. ...David Booth, who has missed the entire season with a groin injury, skated with the Canucks Saturday morning. Ryan Kesler, recovering from both shoulder and wrist surgery, has been skating for a week.