April 24, 2015 - 8:51 AM
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks still have a pulse in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Daniel Sedin scored early in the third period Thursday as the Canucks avoided elimination with a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarter-final.
Vancouver still trails the best-of-seven series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Saturday in Calgary.
"These are fun games to be part of. It's do or die," said Sedin. "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, which got 20 saves from Ryan Miller in his first start of the series after Eddie Lack was pulled in Game 4.
"It was just a grind. I thought the guys did a great job getting pucks to the net," said Miller. "We had the puck in their zone. Give the guys credit for working real hard. We created enough to win."
The Canucks snapped a 1-1 tie 1:47 into the third after the Flames iced the puck. Vancouver put out its top line for the offensive zone faceoff and made Calgary pay as Sedin shovelled a rebound through Jonas Hiller's pads for his second goal of the series.
"We've been trying different faceoff plays and tonight it paid off at the right time," said Sedin. "It hit my stick, but not much. I was fortunate.
"I thought I missed it at first, but somehow it went towards the net."
Vancouver entered play last on the penalty kill in the post-season and had to fight off a Calgary power play midway through the period when Dan Hamhuis was whistled for firing the puck over the glass, with Miller making a big stop on Joe Colborne.
The Flames had another man advantage with under six minutes to go when Henrik Sedin went off for hooking, but didn't get a single shot on target against Miller, who was making just his second start since February because of a knee injury and readily admits he's less than 100 per cent healthy.
"You just have to go out there and give it your best," said the 34-year-old. "My mindset was I can still battle, I can still give 100 per cent of my commitment in my mind and my focus."
Calgary has made a living off third-period comebacks this season, but were unable to find an equalizer as Vancouver stayed alive in front of a raucous towel-waving crowd at Rogers Arena.
"We wanted to come out here and throw our best game at them," said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "Obviously we had a couple calls against us late in the game, but we felt like we played strong enough, weathered the storm, a couple big saves by Millsy and got the job done."
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," said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. "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."
Down 1-0 after the first, Vancouver tied the game with 6:29 left in the second when Bonino ripped a shot under the crossbar from the faceoff dot for his first of the playoffs.
"We're pressing all period," said Bonino. "I think that goal started 10 minutes before that with every line rolling over."
Calgary could have taken a 2-0 lead earlier in the period, but Colborne hit the post a minute in before Mason Raymond saw the puck roll off his stick on a clear breakaway.
The Flames went up 1-0 just 2:40 into the first period when Jones jumped on a turnover and fired shortside on Miller for his second goal of the series.
Calgary's Dennis Wideman had an opportunity to add to the lead on the power play moments later only to see his shot hit the post and stay out.
Vancouver had some great chances to equalize at the other end, but Jannik Hansen's one-timer from the point clanked off iron before Radim Vrbata's effort on a man advantage also hit the post.
"We didn't get away from our game plan," said Daniel Sedin. "I thought we stuck with it even though they scored the first goal. We kept going at them and shooting the puck and got a little bit more guys in front of the net and it paid off in the end."
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2015