The Vancouver Canucks made Ryan Miller’s 300th NHL career win look easy.
Miller reached the milestone as the Canucks downed the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday night.
“It means I have been playing a while,” said Miller. “It feels good. It’s a collection of a lot of good teams, a lot of good players over the years. I’ll take a little moment to reflect. It’s been a lot of fun. Just winning’s fun and I’ve gotten to do it quite a bit with some good guys. So I’ll try and enjoy this.”
The Canucks (6-3-0) posted their third win in four games, while the Hurricanes (0-6-2) remained winless after their first eight games of the season. Carolina also remained without a victory in seven games in Vancouver since October 1999.
“Our guys were skating and pressuring the first option,” said Miller, who recorded 29 saves as the Canucks were outshot 30-29. “I could sit back and make reads. It makes the game a lot easier.”
Brad Richardson’s first two goals of the season led Vancouver, with his second going into an empty net in the final minute of play.
“It was nice to get the zero off the board there,” said Richardson. “You get to that 10-game mark, you don’t want to be sitting there with zeros.”
Linden Vey and Jannik Hansen, with the winner, also scored for the Canucks, who led 1-0 and 3-0 after the first and second periods, respectively.
Jiri Tlusty broke Miller’s shutout bid during a scramble at the 11:05 mark of the third.
“We just didn’t play heavy and strong enough to be able to break pucks out and go the other way,” said Carolina captain Eric Staal, who earned an assist after missing five games with an upper-body injury. “We just weren’t good enough.”
Vancouver went 1-for-3 on the power play while the ‘Canes were blanked on the same number of man-advantage opportunities as they spent a lot of time defending Canucks penalty-killers.
Richardson opened the scoring only 1:32 into an otherwise uneventful first period as he broke down the right wing, cut towards the goal and lifted a quick wrist shot over Carolina goalie Cam Ward’s glove.
The third-line center stood out after coach Willie Desjardins told his unit, which included Zack Kassian and Shawn Matthias, to get more physical. But Richardson was not impressed with his club’s overall effort.
“It wasn’t our best game, to be honest,” said Richardson. “It was a little bit sleepy a lot of the times, but we scored timely goals and we won the game, so that’s the big thing.”
However, Richardson was impressed with Miller.
“He kept us in the game,” said Richardson. “They had some good chances. It’s too bad we couldn’t get him the shutout.”
Vey put the Canucks ahead 2-0 on a power play 50 seconds into the second period. Playing the point, he skated in and fired in Vrbata’s pass from the side of the net. The goal came after Daniel Sedin, standing alone in the slot, missed Vrbata’s pass but the puck continued to Vey.
Hansen increased Vancouver’s lead to 3-0 at 18:39 of the second on a mid-air deflection of Yanick Weber’s point shot. Weber’s assist resulted after he kept an errant puck right on the blue-line and then flung it towards the net, denying Carolina’s Jeff Skinner of a clear breakaway.
“They had a chance, we kept it in and we ended up scoring, so that was probably the difference in the game,” said Desjardins.
The Canucks will host Montreal on Thursday while the Hurricanes return home to face Arizona on Saturday.
Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin and Radim Vrbata extended their point streaks to five games as they assisted on Vey’s goal. Defensemen John-Michael Liles (illness) and Ryan Murphy (lower-body injury) returned to the Hurricanes lineup after missing their last game in Edmonton. But winger Nathan Gerbe (lower body) missed his fourth contest. Vancouver winger Tom Sestito was scratched for the ninth consecutive game to start the season. The game was the first of two meetings between Vancouver and Carolina this season. They will face each other again Jan. 16 in Raleigh, N.C.