BUFFALO, N.Y. â€” Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows doesn’t shy away from his reputation as a pest.
He made his irritating presence felt with a couple points and a couple penalty minutes for the Canucks in a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.
“I’ve had a few of those back in the days,” Burrows said of his unconventional double-double. “But it’s always part of my game a little bit. For me, I want to help this team to make the playoffs. And hopefully tonight’s a step in the right direction.”
In the first period, Burrows slashed and shoved Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner behind the play, and Lehner retaliated with a shove. After the two were separated, Sabres defenceman Justin Falk took a high-speed run at Burrows and bowled him over.
Lehner, Falk and Burrows were penalized for roughing, and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat scored on the ensuing power play by deflecting Ben Sutton’s shot in.
Then, with the game tied at 2 in the second period, Burrows got the go-ahead goal and assisted on another score to help Vancouver win for just the second time in seven games.
“Burry just plays the same way every night,” coach Willie Desjardins said. “He’s the heart and soul guy that keeps you going in the room. And he keeps everybody honest.”
Horvat had a goal and assist and Michael Chaput scored twice for Vancouver, which was coming off a 4-3 loss at Boston on Saturday.
Lehner was more upset over how the Sabres unraveled in the second period than being pushed around by Burrows. Lehner laid the blame on a team that took undisciplined penalties, committed too many turnovers and continued a lengthy trend of second-period struggles.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves in mirror here,” Lehner said. “Reality’s going to come real quick if we don’t figure it out, and that’s how it is. You can’t hide from it. This building, these fans, they deserve better. Our coaching staff deserves better.”
The Sabres have been outscored 62-40 in the second period this season.
“Coach brought it up there, coming up with a good game plan and we do the exact opposite,” said Lehner, who stopped 27 shots. “We don’t do what he said and that gets me angry. I think it gets a lot of guys angry. Disrespectful is the word.”
Tyler Ennis and Kyle Okposo scored for the Sabres, who were unable to build off the momentum of a 3-1 win at Toronto on Saturday night. Buffalo dropped to 3-5-1 in its past nine and hasn’t won consecutive games since a 3-0 run from Jan. 20-24.
Chaput put Vancouver ahead 2-1 following Horvat’s goal, but Okposo tied it by converting Rasmus Ristolainen’s pass into the middle with 16 seconds remaining in the opening period.
Burrows broke the tie by converting Troy Stecher’s pass into the slot, and then Chaput scored two seconds after Jake McCabe’s hooking penalty expired for Buffalo. Alexander Edler set up Chaput’s goal by faking a shot from the left point and instead sending a pass to Chaput, who got enough of the puck to direct it into the net from the right circle.
Vancouver got its 56th point, taking over sole possession of 10th place in the Western Conference and pulling within four points of eighth-place Los Angeles for the final wild card.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 shots filling in for starter Ryan Miller, who allowed four goals on 30 shots against Boston.
NOTES: The Canucks converted just 1 of 6 power-play chances, but both of Chaput’s goals came shortly after Buffalo’s penalties expired. … Sabres coach Dan Bylsma elected to start Lehner on consecutive nights because he believes it’s important for the starter to begin carrying a bigger workload. … Canucks LW Daniel Sedin played in his 1,199th career game, 23 behind his teammate and twin brother Henrik.
Canucks: Continue a six-game road swing at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Sabres: Play at Ottawa on Tuesday night.
John Wawrow, The Associated Press