Work in Sports
Potvin made 29 saves and Mark Messier's milestone goal turned out to be the game-winner as the resurgent Canucks posted a 3-1 victory over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who again were without Paul Kariya.
Vancouver climbed within three points of the 10th-place Ducks and remained seven behind Colorado and San Jose for the final postseason spot in the West. The Canucks are 7-3-2 since the All-Star break and have won four of their last five at home.
Potvin flirted with his second shutout of the season before Kip Miller's centering pass deflected off the goaltender and into the net with 8:59 remaining. Miller nearly scored again with 4:57 left, but Potvin sprawled to stop his backhander from the top of the crease and a video review was inconclusive.
"I don't look at it as a bad goal," Potvin said. "It took a hop on me behind the net. I just tried to come back in and he threw it in my skates. There's no place to be sorry for the shutout. This is a huge victory for us, and it was one we needed badly."
"Felix is playing well for us. That's what we wanted, for him to play strong," Canucks coach Marc Crawford added. "Now he's playing with a lot of confidence and with a great deal of patience. He had a couple chances with one of the best shooters in the league tonight, and he won that battle."
Messier snapped a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle between goalie Guy Hebert's pads with 8:11 left in the second period, giving Vancouver a 2-0 lead. It also was the 1,700th NHL point for the Canucks' captain.
"They're starting to pile up," Messier said. "It's really exciting; even moreso is being in the hunt now. We're playing the most fun hockey we've played in a long time. We're winning by committing now, by everyone contributing. It's taken everybody in the lineup to contribute something in order for us to win. And I think that's always been the feeling when I've been successful in the past."
Brad May made it 3-0 just over three minutes later, getting the puck off a giveaway by Tony Hrkac and beating Hebert from the low slot for his first goal since December 10.
Hebert made only 17 saves for Anaheim, which had a three-game unbeaten streak stopped and lost for only the second time in its last eight contests. The Ducks played their fifth straight game without Kariya, who has a bruised foot.
"There were two differences. One, their goaltending was outstanding. And the other difference was we made three bad turnovers that turned into goals for them," Anaheim coach Craig Hartsburg said. "Other than that, I thought we were the better team."
Alexander Mogilny put Vancouver ahead for good 15:28 into the first period. After Andrew Cassels stole the puck at his own blue line, he passed ahead to Mogilny, who used defenseman Fredrik Olausson as a screen and ripped a wrist shot past Hebert from the top of the slot.
The Canucks killed all four power plays against an Anaheim team that was 5-for-15 in its previous three games.
"We were tested tonight and our penalty-killers really responded well," Crawford said. "We were given a number of opportunities to demonstrate to these guys that we were going to play a hard game. And when you play hard, you're going to take penalties, and we did. And their power play wasn't the difference, as it has been."