VANCOUVER — Ryan Miller made 31 saves to record his second shutout of the season and the 41st of his career in his return to Vancouver as the Anaheim Ducks dismantled the Canucks 5-0 on Tuesday night.
Ryan Getzlaf had goal and two assists for Anaheim (19-14-8), while Rickard Rakell, with a goal and an assist, Antoine Vermette, Adam Henrique and Derek Grant also scored.
Josh Manson had three assists, and Hampus Lindholm chipped in with two of his own as the Ducks picked up their fifth win in the last six outings.
Anders Nilsson allowed four goals on 19 shots for slumping Vancouver (16-19-5), which has just two wins in its last 12 games, before getting pulled early in the third period in favour of Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom finished with seven saves.
Signed by Anaheim over the summer to back up John Gibson after three seasons as the starter in Vancouver, Miller was given a nice ovation following a short video tribute before the opening faceoff.
The 37-year-old, who had a combined .914 save percentage with the Canucks and entered Tuesday sporting a .928 mark in limited duty with the Ducks, responded to the crowd at Rogers Arena with a wave and a clap before his teammates went to work.
Making his first start since a 7-5 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 19, Nilsson kept up the trend both he and Markstrom have been guilty of far too often this season just 56 seconds into the game — a bad goal.
Lindholm fired a clearing attempt from his own blue line that Nilsson steered into the path of a hard-charging Henrique, who swooped into the corner and fired a shot from below the goal-line that somehow caromed off the netminder’s stick and in for his ninth of the season.
Nilsson recovered to make a blocker save with Kevin Roy in alone moments later before also punching away another Henrique chance on a short-handed breakaway.
But the Ducks finally went ahead against the sleepwalking Canucks when Rakell roofed a quick snapshot after whiffing on another opportunity seconds earlier for his team-leading 15th at 13:44.
Set to begin a stretch of seven games away from home, injury-riddled Vancouver, which entered play 2-8-1 since No. 1 centre Bo Horvat went down with a broken foot on Dec. 5, had a bit of a push to start the second.
Alexander Edler hit the post as the hosts briefly crowded Miller’s crease, but Getzlaf, who missed 19 games earlier this season after taking a puck to the face, tipped home his third at the five-minute mark to put the game out of reach.
Anaheim, which weathered its own injury woes earlier this season, managed the rest of the period, with Vancouver’s best opportunity coming on a Brock Boeser opportunity from in tight that Miller blocked with his glove before smothering the rebound.
The Ducks made it 4-0 just 20 seconds in the third on another brain cramp from Nilsson, who stopped the puck at the side of his net on a dump in for Rakell to collect and feed to Getzlaf, who in turn found Vermette for his eighth.
That would be the end of Nilsson’s night, but Markstrom didn’t fare much better as Manson charged up the ice on an Anaheim change and found Grant alone in front of a porous Vancouver defence to roof his eighth at 7:41.
Miller made an awkward save to keep his shutout alive on a Michael Chaput shot that took a double deflection with nine minutes left, but wasn’t challenged much from there.
Notes: Miller beat Vancouver 4-1 in Anaheim on Nov. 9, but left with under 10 minutes to go with a lower-body injury that kept him out two weeks. … Still minus Horvat, winger Sven Baertschi (jaw) and centre Brandon Sutter (lower body), Vancouver got defenceman Christopher Tanev back after he missed seven games with a groin injury. … Boeser was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for December after also getting the nod in November. The 20-year-old leads both his team and all first-year players with 21 goals and 38 points.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press