Even Mark Messier, the ultimate team player, had to acknowledge his 600th career goal was a pretty big deal.
Asked whether becoming the 10th player in history to reach the milestone was more important than the Vancouver Canucks's 5-0 victory over the Florida Panthers Friday night, the Canucks' captain never hesitated.
"Individual success comes from winning as a team. That's the bottom line," he said.
Vancouver (4-2) posted back-to-back wins for the first time this year and won for the second time in three outings on its five-game Eastern road trip.
"I always put the team ahead of any individual goals," said Messier, a member of six Stanley Cup champions. "I didn't want the guys to think I was pressing for 600. Our rallying cry this year is to play a solid team game."
| The Vancouver Canucks put the wrap on Florida's season-opening unbeaten streak. (AP) |
The 20th-year veteran took a pass from behind the net by Mogilny and one-timed a shot between Kirk McLean and the left post for his third goal of the season.
Messier's teammates streamed out from the Vancouver bench to congratulate their captain. The crowd of 18,070, quiet after the goal, quickly recovered to give Messier warm applause.
"I am one of the lucky coaches in the league," Canucks coach Mike Keenan said. "I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach him, here in Vancouver and in New York. He never ceases to amaze me. He is the consummate team player."
Messier joined former Edmonton linemates Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri in reaching the 600-goal milestone. Gretzky, now with the New York Rangers, is the career leader with 886 goals. Kurri retired after last season with 601, ninth on the all-time list.
"Only nine players that have ever played the game have scored 600 goals, so it's a huge milestone," Messier said. "I'm not one to dwell on individual statistics, but this is a pretty big one."
The Panthers (2-1-2) were the NHL's last unbeaten team this season, but looked sluggish despite firing 35 shots at Garth Snow.
"It was definitely an all-around poor performance," Florida defenseman Gord Murphy said. "We had another lackluster first period, fell behind and never got going."
Bertuzzi gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 14:07 of the first period, then scored a power-play goal at 8:27 of the second to ignite a three-goal Vancouver outburst.
With Dave Gagner in the penalty box for holding, Mogilny raced onto a loose puck behind the Florida net and passed to Bertuzzi in front for a quick one-timer past McLean.
Bertuzzi's third goal of the season was only the second allowed in 28 shorthanded situations for the Panthers, who entered the game as the NHL's No. 2 penalty killers.
Messier was denied on a good scoring chance midway through the period, but Mogilny put home the rebound for a shorthanded goal at 11:43.
Mogilny blocked a Rob Niedermayer shot from the point and started a two-on-one breakout with Messier. Messier's shot from the right circle was stopped by McLean, but Mogilny swooped onto the rebound for his second goal of the season.
Marcus Naslund pushed Vancouver's lead to 4-0 at 14:27 by converting another rebound. Brandon Convery fired a shot from the right circle that hit the post and landed behind McLean in the middle of the crease. Naslund stuck out his stick as he skated by to sweep the puck into the net.
Florida's best scoring chance came with 16 minutes left, when Gagner hit the post on a one-timer from rookie Mark Parrish
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