VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - On a night when the Vancouver Canucks' top line combined for eight points, goalie Cory Schneider stole the show.
Schneider made 36 saves - many of the highlight-reel variety - as the Canucks beat the reeling Calgary Flames 5-2 on Saturday night to move four points ahead of the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Northwest Division.
Making his 10th straight start, eight of which have been victories, Schneider has grabbed the No. 1 role over Roberto Luongo the past three weeks.
``Our best player was our goaltender,' Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. ``He made some unreal saves. They came to play and they came at us real hard. They had some quality chances, but Schneids shut the door, and we were able to jump on a few of their mistakes and score some goals.'
Schneider's saves were not only sharp - like his lightning-quick glove stop against Lee Stempniak early in the third period - but timely, as well.
Schneider was at his best while the Canucks held a 2-1 lead late in the first period and early in the second when he robbed Roman Cervenka and Mike Cammalleri on in-close attempts.
``They had some good chances, but that's why you have a goalie,' said Schneider (14-7-3). ``That's why you pay a guy to stop pucks, so if there are a lot of shots he's there to stop them. Sometimes it might be 20, sometimes it might be 40. But either way your job doesn't change.'
Henrik Sedin scored an empty-net goal and earned career NHL assists No. 600 and 601, Daniel Sedin added three assists, and Alex Burrows scored and had an assist to pace Vancouver (21-11-6), which has won eight of 10.
Dan Hamhuis, Dale Weise and Alex Edler also had goals for the Canucks.
Dennis Wideman and Alex Tanguay scored for Calgary (13-20-4), which has lost five straight overall and 13 consecutive on the road (0-12-1). The Flames, who lost 2-1 at San Jose on Friday, are 14th in the 15-team Western Conference.
``We played really hard I think the last two games and done a lot of good things,' Stempniak said. ``But we make a few mistakes, and teams bury us, and all of a sudden we're chasing games and it's hard. You can't fault our effort or how competitive we are, but it's not enough at the end of the day.'
With a chance to build on Thursday's 4-0 victory over Edmonton, the Canucks jumped on Calgary early.
Hamhuis got Vancouver on the board 34 seconds in, converting a pretty feed from Burrows on a 2-on-1 after Flames defenseman Mark Giordano got caught up ice.
Weise made it 2-0 six minutes later, parking himself in front of goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and deflecting in Jason Garrison's point shot for his third goal of the season.
It was Weise's first game after he missed six because of a shoulder injury.
The goal was the Canucks' second on their first five shots, drawing jeers of ``Kipper, Kipper' from the sellout crowd.
Wideman got Calgary within one at 13:49 of the first, faking a slap shot from the right circle and firing a soft wrist shot that fooled Schneider.
``He kind of pump-faked and slipped it by me,' Schneider said. ``I'm not thrilled with that one but it was a pretty crafty play by him. You don't see that too often.'
The Flames put in a solid effort despite trading captain Jarome Iginla and top defenseman Jay Bouwmeester before this week's NHL trade deadline.
Calgary outshot Vancouver 15-8 in the first period and had the edge in play early in the second. Tanguay hit the post, and Roman Cervenka was robbed by Schneider on an in-close chance.
The Canucks found their legs again midway through the second period and added a pair of goals to make it 4-1 heading into the third.
After some pretty passing from the Sedin twins, Burrows parked himself in front and jammed the rebound of Daniel Sedin's wraparound between Kiprusoff's legs. It was Henrik Sedin's 600th assist in his 930th game.
It didn't take long for him to earn No. 601.
On a power play late in the second period, Edler whipped a one-timer from the point behind a screened Kiprusoff after Henrik Sedin won the faceoff.
Henrik Sedin has 782 points, moving him into 154th on the NHL's career list - one ahead of Alexei Yashin and four behind Claude Lemieux.
``Great player,' Vigneault said. ``He's a great passer. Without a doubt, him and his brother have something real good going, and Burr complements them real well.
``Henrik's our captain, he's a great player. I'm real happy for him.'
The Flames had a strong third period, but Tanguay was the only one to beat Schneider.
The veteran forward moved in on a breakaway midway through the period and beat Schneider with a pretty backhand deke between the legs.
Henrik Sedin scored his 11th goal of the season with 11 seconds remaining. It was Vancouver's first short-handed goal of the season.
NOTES: Vigneault coached his 530th game for the Canucks, surpassing Marc Crawford for the franchise record. ... Tim Jackman fought Zack Kassian early in the first period, and Brian McGrattan and Tom Sestito dropped the gloves 27 seconds later. ... McGrattan later left the game because of an unrelated shoulder injury and didn't return. ... Canucks forward Mason Raymond returned to the lineup after he missing two games with a shoulder injury. ... Vancouver D Chris Tanev left the game for a few minutes in the first period with what appeared to be a knee injury, but he returned and finished the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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