VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Eddie Lack is making a resounding case to lead the Vancouver Canucks into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The 27-year-old Swede made 28 saves for his second shutout of the season as Vancouver downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-0 Thursday on a night Ryan Miller dressed as the backup after missing 21 games with a knee injury.
The Canucks have yet to name a starter for the postseason, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Lack — who is 12-6-2 with a .927 save percentage since Miller went down on Feb. 22 — doesn’t get the call.
“I’ve always stuck to my own business and worked hard,” Lack said. “I’ve always thought that if I keep working hard my chance is going to come eventually. But playing such a big role in the playoff hunt, I didn’t expect that.”
Yannick Weber scored twice and Daniel Sedin, Ronalds Kenins and Dan Hamhuis had the other goals for Vancouver, which clinched a Western Conference playoff spot two nights earlier.
Alexander Edler added three assists, while Henrik Sedin chipped in with two for the Canucks, who missed the postseason in 2013-14 for the first time in six years. They have rebounded under rookie head coach Willie Desjardins.
Depending on what Calgary does in its finale Saturday against Winnipeg, the Canucks still might need a victory in their home game later that evening against Edmonton to lock up second place in the Pacific Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Flames beat the Kings 3-1 on Thursday to secure a postseason berth and guarantee an all-Canadian opening-round matchup against the Canucks.
Desjardins gave a strong indication that Miller would start against Edmonton.
“You have to have two goalies going into the playoffs,” he said. “It would be tough on Ryan if he ended up playing in the playoffs without having played in so long.”
Lack, who picked up the sixth shutout of his career, has played 22 of 23 games since Miller went down, but was rarely tested against lowly Arizona.
Fans saluted Lack with chants of “Eddie! Eddie!” after a couple of saves on an Arizona power play midway through the third period, his busiest sequence of the night.
Mike Smith allowed four goals on 24 shots before getting pulled late in the second period for the Coyotes, who will finish their miserable season on Saturday at home against Anaheim.
Louis Domingue finished with seven saves in relief for the Coyotes, who are second to last in the overall standings and can still finish below Buffalo in the race to pick first overall in June’s NHL draft.
“Poor execution, some penalties we couldn’t kill and we chased the game,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, whose team gave up three power-play goals.
Vancouver opened the scoring late in the first period. Henrik Sedin shoveled a pass into the slot to his brother Daniel, who flubbed a shot that knuckled its way past Smith for his 19th goal.
After Kenins doubled the Canucks’ edge in the second period with his first in 22 games, Weber one-timed his 10th and 11th goals of the season from almost exactly the same spot. Weber’s first came on a 5-on-3 power play before firing his second on the subsequent 5-on-4 advantage just 1:28 later.
Hamhuis rounded out the scoring with his first goal of the season on another power play late in the third.
NOTES: Kenins’ goal, his fourth of the season, was also his first point in 12 games. … Vancouver was 3 for 4 with the man advantage and has 11 power-play goals over its last 11 games.
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