ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet hopes that a close, grinding victory provides the panacea for his Canucks.

Especially when it comes to backup goaltender Casey DeSmith.

DeSmith picked up his first win in goal since Jan. 9 on Sunday as Conor Garland scored the go-ahead goal in the second period of the Canucks' 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

“I think he needed that stress game,” Tocchet said about DeSmith. “To be honest, I'd rather not have a 6-2 game for him. These 2-1 games for a guy who hasn't played much, he needed that.”

The Canucks went back on top of the Western Conference with 85 points after snapping a two-game losing streak. Vancouver had also dropped six of its last seven coming into the game.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy to win a game. Obviously, personally it feels really good, kind of get off the skid, but also the team, it’s a huge win for the team,” DeSmith said. “To start off this road trip on the right foot, after a couple tough losses, it just feels really good in here right now.”

DeSmith had a 4.67 goals-against average and 83.3% save percentage in his last four starts, but made 18 saves after giving up a goal on the first shot he faced.

“They had some good lucks. They turned up some shooting opportunities and looked for the extra pass most of the night. It wasn't a heavy shot volume, but they made me work for it,” DeSmith said.

Garland snapped an eight-game goal drought when he redirected Nikita Zadorov’s pass past Lukas Dostal at 3:34 of the second period to puck the Canucks back on top. It was Garland's first game-winner since he scored in overtime against the Arizona Coyotes last April 13.

Vancouver’s Nils Hoglander also scored.

Alex Killorn scored for Anaheim and Dostal stopped 29 shots as the Ducks were looking for their first three-game winning streak since early November.

“To give a tap-in goal like that, as a game-winner, that’s frustrating. But, at the same time, they had more chances than we did,” Anaheim coach Greg Cronin said. “I don’t think we generated enough. We had some zone time, particularly in the second period, but we weren’t able to get pucks to the net.”

Both teams ended up scoring on their first shot. Hoglander put in his 19th of the season and second in the last three games from the slot 97 seconds into the game on a wrist shot from the slot.

Filip Hronek had the second assist to reach 40 this season. It is the first time in franchise history the Canucks have had multiple defensemen with at least 40 assists in a season. Quinn Hughes leads NHL blueliners with 59.

Killorn evened it at 4:15 with a wrist shot from an angle near the goal line that just got past DeSmith's left leg and into the short side of the net. Three of Kilorn's eight goals have come in the past six games.

The Ducks were missing goaltender John Gibson (illness) and forwards Mason McTavish (lower body) and Leo Carlsson (upper body). McTavish and Carlsson were both injured in Friday's 4-3 win over New Jersey.

Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers missed his first game this season due to an upper-body injury.


Canucks: Remain in Southern California to face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Ducks: Host the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.



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