BRITISH COLUMBIA

Fight Night: Canucks down Flames 4-1 to even first-round series 1-1

04/18/2015 12:49 EDT | Updated 07/04/2015 11:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have had some memorable playoff encounters over the years.

The 2015 edition wrote another bruising chapter on Friday night.

Daniel Sedin and Chris Higgins snapped long post-season goal droughts and Eddie Lack made 22 saves as the Canucks downed the Flames 4-1 to even their Western Conference quarter-final at a game apiece.

But afterwards most of the talk revolved around a line brawl late in the third period that resulted in 132 minutes in penalties, including six game misconducts — three of which went to Calgary's Deryk Engelland.

"It was pretty intense tonight," said Canucks rookie Bo Horvat. "The hard-hitting, the stuff at the end, it was like old-time hockey and it was fun to be a part of."

The fisticuffs started with 1:17 left on the clock and were reminiscent of the rumble between the Canucks and Flames off an opening faceoff last season.

"We knew they were going to try something. They've tried it before," said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin. "I'm sure it's going to happen again. That's part of it. We move onto the next game."

Among the combatants, Vancouver's Brad Richardson took on Calgary's Matt Stajan, while Engelland squared off with the Canucks' Derek Dorsett.

"Intensity's high. It's playoff hockey. You expect things to kind of boil over," said Dorsett. "We stuck up for each other and we took care of things when we had to."

In terms of the actual game, Vancouver rookie Ronalds Kenins and Radim Vrbata also scored, while Alexandre Burrows and Christopher Tanev added two assists each for the Canucks, who snapped a seven-game losing streak at home in the playoffs dating back to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

"Regardless of what people are talking about we got a big win," said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "We got a win where we felt like we outplayed them for the whole game."

Kris Russell had the goal for the Flames, who got 26 saves from Jonas Hiller. Despite the loss, Calgary still earned a split after winning Wednesday's opener and will host Game 3 on Sunday.

"They had great momentum during the entire game, it was tough to get a good scoring chance on those guys," said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. "They deserve the credit."

In what Daniel Sedin described as a "must-win game" earlier in the day, the Canucks came out flying and grabbed the lead just 2:56 into the first period in front of a raucous and towel-waving crowd at Rogers Arena.

Engelland blew a tire inside his own zone, allowing Henrik Sedin an opening to feed his twin brother, who roofed a shot on Hiller for his first playoff goal since Game 2 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final — a stretch of 13 contests.

The Canucks doubled that advantage at 7:06 on the power play when Higgins snapped a playoff scoring slump of his own by banging home a loose puck from the slot. The goal was his first in the post-season since Game 2 of the 2011 Western Conference semifinal — a span of 20 games — and his first point in 16 playoff contests.

Lack faced just three shots in the first, but had to defend himself in the second after making a save off a scramble in front. Brandon Bollig piled on the Vancouver goalie in a scrum only to see Lack respond with blocker punches in the melee as fans chanted "Eddie! Eddie!"

"The boys battled hard from start to finish," said Lack, who picked up his first playoff win. "I got run over a couple times, I gave a couple hits too."

Calgary came from behind to win when trailing after 40 minutes an impressive 10 times this season and accomplished the same feat in Game 1, but Kenins scored his first playoff goal 2:17 into the third before Russell buried his second of the series for Calgary at 16:26 on a power play to cut the lead to 3-1.

Vrbata scored into an empty net with 2:01 remaining before all 10 skaters on the ice dropped their gloves moments later in a brawl that Dorsett said could bring a team closer together.

"Any time guys are sticking up for each other and coming to each other's aid it's good team bonding," he said. "In a playoff game when things get heated up you have to go with the situation and try and handle it as best you can."

Notes: Apart from their terrible recent playoff home record, the Canucks had also lost six straight in the post-season and 11 of their last 12 prior to Friday. ... Karri Ramo replaced Hiller late in the third and finished with two saves.

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