Flames flounder in season ending loss to Canucks
VANCOUVER — Daniel Sedin scored twice before leaving on a stretcher after taking a hit from behind as the Vancouver Canucks concluded what has been a disastrous season with a 5-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
Frank Corrado, with his first in the NHL, Ryan Kesler and Yannick Weber also scored for Vancouver (36-35-11), while Jacob Markstrom made 21 saves for his first victory with the Canucks.
The result of a game that meant very little was overshadowed by a nasty incident late in the second period when Daniel Sedin was checked in the numbers by Calgary’s Paul Byron and stayed down before being stretchered off. Sedin appeared to be moving his fingers, but there was no immediate update on his status. Byron was assessed a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct.
The team said Sedin was taken in stable condition to hospital to undergo further evaluation.
“He exhibited signs of movement to his extremities and showed improvement from initially being hit,” the statement read. “No assessment will be made until completion of this evaluation.”
Henrik Sedin added two assists for Vancouver, which goes into the off-season with more than a few question marks after missing the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Johnny Gaudreau scored in his first NHL game and Karri Ramo stopped 18 shots for Calgary (35-40-7) as the Flames wrapped up a 2013-’14 campaign that saw the team miss the post-season for the fifth straight spring.
Vancouver scored twice in the first period and stretched its lead to 3-0 at 9:12 of the second on Corrado’s first career goal on a shot from the top of the faceoff circle through traffic past Ramo. Kesler then ripped his 25th of the season at 13:49 to make it 4-0 for Vancouver before Gaudreau scored his first in the NHL at 15:22, when a deflection in front went off his stick and past Markstrom to get Calgary on the board.
The 20-year-old Gaudreau won the Hobey Baker award earlier this week as the top player in U.S. college hockey after the native of Salem, N.J. recorded 35 goals and 42 assists in 39 games this season with Boston College.
After Sedin was taken off the ice before the hushed Rogers Centre crowd, Weber scored on the ensuing power play to make it 5-1 at 18:55, with Vancouver rookie Michael Zalewski picking up an assist for his first point in the NHL.
Markstrom, who came over as part of the Roberto Luongo trade with the Florida Panthers last month, made a nice save on a Sean Monahan breakaway early in the third but had a relatively quiet night.
The summer should be interesting for both Calgary and Vancouver. The Flames need a new general manager after firing Jay Feaster in December, while the Canucks are also on the lookout for a new GM following Mike Gillis’ dismissal last week.
The Flames have not made the playoffs since 2008-’09 but came into this season with a young roster and zero expectations. The club got off to a rough start, but played much better in the New Year, a surge that coincided with the line brawl against Vancouver in January that saw Canucks head coach John Tortorella try to get into the Flames’ locker-room.
The Canucks, meanwhile, were in a playoff spot at Christmas but stumbled badly for a 20-game stretch midway through the season because of injuries and an inability to adapt to Tortorella’s system. Whether or not the embattled coach remains behind the bench next season could be one of the first decisions for newly minted president of hockey operations Trevor Linden.
With playoff weather outside as temperatures reached 15 C in Vancouver on Sunday, there was more of a pre-season atmosphere with both teams playing for pride and little else.
The Canucks gave up two separate 2-on-1 breaks to the Flames’ fourth line early in the first period but survived that scare to score the opening goal at 7:14. Vancouver’s David Booth, while falling to the ice, swatted at a rebound in front that bounced off Daniel Sedin and past a surprised Ramo.
Markstrom then made a couple of nice saves on a Calgary man advantage midway through the period before the Canucks doubled their lead at 13:57 on a power play of their own when Sedin chipped home his 16th of the campaign. It marked Sedin’s first two-goal game of the season and first since Feb. 24, 2013 — a span of 101 games.