ANAHEIM, Calif. â€” An unlikely performance from journeyman goalie Richard Bachman has the Vancouver Canucks thinking about a playoff push that seemed farfetched just a few days ago.
Bachman made 43 saves, Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund each scored and the Canucks beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Bachman got his first win since Oct. 30, 2015, in his first appearance this season for the Canucks.
“It feels really good,” said Bachman, who is unbeaten in two career starts for Vancouver. “Anytime you get to play in this league, it’s an awesome experience and opportunity. To win, it’s even more special.”
Bachman acknowledged being nervous going into the game, but it never showed. He was solid throughout, including when he denied Rickard Rakell on a wraparound late in the third period.
The Ducks rarely challenged Bachman despite matching their season-high in shots. Bachman pointed out he was able to keep a good eye on the puck most of the night, while Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle lamented the lack of follow-up opportunities or screens in front.
While the Ducks struggled to manufacture chances, the Canucks created their own puck luck for the second straight game. Jonathan Bernier thought he had smothered Ben Hutton’s shot from the blue line, but the puck trickled free from under his left arm. Horvat was waiting at the foot of the crease and easily tapped it in.
After defeating Los Angeles and Anaheim on back-to-back nights, Vancouver is just six points behind St. Louis for the second wild card in the Pacific Division.
“We’re doing little things right and finally just bounces are going our way,” said Horvat, who picked up a point for the third consecutive game and has two goals and three assists in that span. “There’s been a lot of games this year where bounces haven’t gone our way, so we finally get that reward, it’s awesome.”
The Ducks thought they had tied it up 2:33 later, but the officials immediately ruled that Ondrej Kase kicked in the rebound of Patrick Eaves’ shot. The play stood as called after a video review showed Kase’s skate was moving into the puck.
Eaves scored for the second straight game and Bernier made 25 saves for the Ducks, who have not won consecutive games since Jan. 17-19. Anaheim’s three-game winning streak at home ended, and the Ducks find themselves tied with Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division after the Flames won their seventh straight game earlier in the day.
Eaves beat Bachman to the short left side, cutting the Ducks’ deficit to 2-1 with 13:48 remaining after Granlund scored early in the second on a breakaway.
Sami Vatanen nearly tied it up with just over a minute to go, but his slap shot went wide of the net.
“There’s always a reason to be concerned when you didn’t play to the level of which we’re capable of playing, simple as that,” Carlyle said. “We just didn’t do enough of the good things we have been preaching. And again we seem to find flat games, and we were a flat hockey club for 40 minutes.”
Canucks forward Loui Eriksson had to be helped to the locker room 2:52 into the game with an apparent right leg injury and did not return. Eriksson and Ducks centre Chris Wagner had a knee-on-knee collision against the boards, and Eriksson could not put any weight on his leg coming off the ice.
Canucks coach Willie Desjardins expects Eriksson to miss several games but had no other update.
NOTES: Horvat is the first Canucks player under the age of 22 to score 20 goals in a season since Daniel Sedin had 20 in 2000-01. … Vancouver won both games of a back-to-back for the third time this season. … Anaheim is 1 for 35 on the power play dating to the start of February.
Canucks: Host Montreal on Tuesday to open a five-game homestand.
Ducks: Host Nashville on Tuesday to conclude a three-game homestand.
Dan Greenspan, The Associated Press