Detroit Red Wings center Cory Emmerton (48) and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts (41) go into the boards during second period NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, Dec, 21, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
VANCOUVER - Alex Burrows took lesson from the Detroit Red Wings' offensive playbook.
Burrows scored the winning goal in the first period of the Vancouver Canucks' 4-2 victory Wednesday when he went to Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard's crease for an artful back-to-the-net tip-in.
"I'm trying to get a piece of it and try to surprise the goalie a bit," Burrows said of his deflection of a hard Daniel Sedin pass.
"They're one of the best teams at going to the net and we like to take pages out of their book and tonight it worked out in our favour."
The goal gave the Canucks a 3-1 lead and Burrows, who scored his fourth goal in as many games, didn't think it would stand up as the game-winner.
"It's too early," said Burrows who tied Sedin for the team lead with his 13th goal of the season. "When you give them room, they're going to make some plays.
"We sat back too much in the third and they kept coming in waves and (goalie) Roberto (Luongo) made some big saves."
Luongo had to be sharp in the third period when the Canucks were outshot 16-4 while nursing their lead. He finished with 38 stops, including late saves on Darren Helm and Pavel Datsyuk.
Burrows and Sedin twins Daniel and Henrik have combined for 10 points in the last two games.
"They're such unbelievable players," Burrows said. "They're going to make plays all over the ice.
"For me on that play, I think he (Howard) thought they were going to make a give-and-go or something and bought me time to get to the net."
Daniel Sedin the goal came from Burrows' ability to get into a good scoring position.
"Typical Burrows goal," he said. "He's so good at hand-eye co-ordination, it's unbelievable. He goes to open spots behind their (defencemen) and we try to find him."
Chris Higgins and Cody Hodgson scored 21 seconds apart earlier in the period to give Vancouver a 2-0 advantage, prompting Detroit coach Mike Babcock to call a time out.
Alex Edler completed the attack for Vancouver while Todd Bertuzzi and Drew Miller scored for Detroit.
"Today we made too many mistakes through the neutral zone, and on our forecheck," Babcock said. "Behind 3-1, I thought we crawled back in the game, had a good push."
Vancouver (21-11-2) won its third straight game, and 12th in its last 15 to close to within a point of Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Wild.
The Red Wings (21-11-1), who are chasing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division, lost for only the second time in seven games.
Both clubs, who have been climbing the Western Conference standings after sluggish starts to their season, scored crease-crashing goals.
Bertuzzi jammed a puck past Luongo to cut the deficit to 2-1 after the Canuck netminder was knocked over when teammate Sami Salo was pushed into him.
Edler, who suffered back spasms late in the game, provided third-period insurance by burying Jannik Hansen's rebound behind a frustrated Howard while the Canucks were short handed.
The Detroit netminder went after Hansen who bumped into him while fighting off a check by Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg.
"I was interfered with," said Howard who blanked the Canucks 2-0 in Detroit on Oct. 13.
"I'm just sick and tired of getting run over. Every single game. Sometimes you can't help it, your D's battling in front, things do happen. But I am actually just getting sick of it."
The Canucks were killing a roughing penalty to Ryan Kesler, who challenged Niklas Kronwall after the Wings defenceman left his feet to deliver a hard hit along the boards.
The check brought some feeling into a game that didn't see a penalty called until 18:36 of the second period.
Kronwall said the hit was just part of the game.
"The puck was right there and I just tried to put a clean check in," Kronwall said.
"The way I looked at it is he had the puck and he had it under control. I thought the puck was right there."
Kesler said he hadn't seen areplay but thought Kronwall should have responded to his invitation to fight.
"If you want to hit guys like that, you’re going to have to drop the gloves," he said.
All four penalties in the game were called against Vancouver and Zetterberg said the Wings should have made more of their man-advantage chances.
"You have to take care of your power play, you have to have at least one (man-advantage goal) to win games," he said. "It's so tight five-on-five."
Notes: The two clubs have appeared three of the last four Stanley Cup finals ... Andrew Ebbett returned to the Vancouver lineup for the first time since suffering a foot fracture on Nov. 10 ... minor league call-up Mark Mancari sat out ... the Canucks were again without their third defensive pairing of Aaron Rome (thumb) and Keith Ballard (back) ... Andrew Alberts and Alexander Sulzer continued to fill in on the Vancouver blue-line ... the Wings continue their road trip Thursday in Calgary.