Tuesday, October 18, 2005
[posted in full Wed ~3:36p]
The Chicago Blackhawks came in with some injuries, not the least of which was Tuomo Ruutu, who was scratched with a bad back, but there would be no Ruutu/Ruutu (Jarkko) confusion on this night. Inter-Ruutu confusion was the least of Chicago's problems, as they were among the league leaders in allowing 5-on-3 power plays. To add to this, they came in as the fifth-most penalized team in the league. To make matters even worse, their power play was 1-for-20 on the road for the season.
In short, the Canucks' best course of action was to take care of business. The Blackhawks were 2-4-0 coming into the game for a reason, and I listed a couple of them above.
Though it was a scoreless period, it featured many chances back and forth. Though it was a little harrowing that the Blackhawks were hanging around, the period was pretty even and it made for some fairly entertaining hockey. Matt Ellison put a puck through the crease and off a skate not long after the opening faceoff, and was hit near center by Bryan Allen not too long after the shot. True to form, Chicago took a penalty as Pavel Vorobiev went to the box for a hook just 61 seconds into the game. However, Vancouver went scoreless on the ensuing power play. Dan Cloutier got action, coming up with big saves on Tyler Arnason in close and Kyle Calder. Brendan Morrison had a slapshot stopped by Nikolai Khabibulin's pad, but beat Khabibulin on another try, but the puck hit the post. Markus Naslund went off the base of the post in the same shift, marking some good activity for the big line. Naslund and Bertuzzi had consecutive 2-on-1 chances, but couldn't bury the puck. Curtis Brown had open ice in the slot and hit the post, but Cloutier made a stop on the rebound, closing up the short side. Rene Bourque was called for interference, and Jim Vandermeer went to the box for holding a stick, giving the Canucks 38 seconds of two-man advantage time with which they were unable to convert. Naslund went to the box for holding to nullify part of the power play. Cloutier made a nice glove save on Adrian Aucoin. Chicago held a 9-7 first-period lead in shots. Vancouver was 0-for-3 on the power play, and Chicago was 0-for-1.
Then the Blackhawks realized they were the Blackhawks. Henrik Sedin drop-passed to brother Daniel on a bit of a rush, and Daniel Sedin wristed the puck through a checker, off of Khabibulin's shoulder, and into the net.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Daniel Sedin 2 (Henrik Sedin, Sami Salo) 2:01
»» CANUCKS 1, BLACKHAWKS 0
Mattias Ohlund got a big hit on Jim Vandermeer, and the latter challenged the former, though no fight happened. Bertuzzi broke in on the net and deked, but had the puck fall off his stick partially because Aucoin hooked him. Bertuzzi was stopped twice on the resulting power play, but the Canucks took advantage. Anson Carter feathered a pass over to Ohlund, who ripped a one-timer from the top of the left circle.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Mattias Ohlund 2 (Anson Carter, Nolan Baumgartner) 4:23
»» CANUCKS 2, BLACKHAWKS 0
Mark Bell blocked an Ohlund shot and regretted it after the subsequent pain. Daniel Sedin stole the puck and passed to Carter, who was robbed by Khabibulin's glove. Ohlund was rocked by Martin Lapointe's shoulder on a forecheck. Bourque went to the box once again, and the hooking penalty put the Canucks on the power play once again. Once again, the Canucks made good on the man-advantage. With Ed Jovanovski screening, Sami Salo wired a long shot that hit a Blackhawk skater up high. Khabibulin lost sight of the puck after the deflection, and it went in over his shoulder.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Salo 3 (Brendan Morrison, Todd Bertuzzi) 6:03
»» CANUCKS 3, BLACKHAWKS 0
Ryan Kesler lost a stick then tried to hold a player in front of the net, which was a penalty. Ohlund got a big hit on Calder, but he was called for a hook right after the hit. This was right after the Kesler penalty too, and it left Chicago with 1:49 of a two-man advantage. After Cloutier stopped a Jaroslav Spacek shot off the draw, he was knocked down by Lapointe, who was skated backward into him. No more two-man advantage. Trevor Linden had his stick lifted by Aucoin on a shorthanded rush. Vorobiev let fly on a slapshot and beat Cloutier high glove.
»» 4, CHICAGO, powerplay, Pavel Vorobiev 5 (Jaroslav Spacek, Adrian Aucoin) 9:30
»» CANUCKS 3, BLACKHAWKS 1
Steve McCarthy was pulled down, but there was no call and no Vancouver power play. Bertuzzi and Lee Goren managed a couple of successive shots. Salo passed to Daniel Sedin, who went stick side and missed. Bertuzzi passed to Morrison in front, who passed to Ohlund in the high slot, who beat Khabibulin.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Ohlund 3 (Morrison, Bertuzzi) 12:54
»» CANUCKS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1
Bourque missed short side on a 2-on-1. Kesler was called for goaltender interference. Cloutier came up with a toe save on Aucoin and a pad stack on Vorobiev. Before the second period was done, Matthew Barnaby tried to bat a puck out of the air and nailed Jovanovski hard in the face, opening a gash near his mouth. Jovanovski clutched his face and kicked his feet in agony on the ice as he bled profusely. He skated off and as hockey players do, he returned in the third period. Vancouver outshot Chicago 11-10 in the period, and Chicago led 19-18 on shots after 40 minutes.
Linden took a nice early pass from Jarkko Ruutu and broke to the net, but was stopped by Khabibulin's stick. Since the target was firmly placed onto his back, Barnaby was shoved by Matt Cooke as he was heading off for a change. Cooke went to the box for roughing, and Chicago showed some life. Cloutier made a great save on Lapointe, but as has happened a couple times this season, there was a rebound. Lapointe came through on his own rebound. The radio crew thought Jovanovski and Allen might have overskated the rebound.
»» 6, CHICAGO, powerplay, Martin Lapointe 1 (Matt Ellison, Vorobiev) 3:23
»» CANUCKS 4, BLACKHAWKS 2
The Canucks soon after brought a four-man rush to center, but Bertuzzi's pass to Morrison was knocked away. Henrik Sedin was hooked by Brent Seabrook, and the latter went to the box. Naslund was stripped of the puck by Calder, whose shorthanded shot was stopped. Naslund and Bertuzzi were stopped a couple of times, and the puck was nearly cleared, but Jovanovski held it in, faked a slapshot, and fed a nice pass to Morrison, who found the back of the net with a backhand.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Morrison 1 (Ed Jovanovski) 8:15
»» CANUCKS 5, BLACKHAWKS 2
The Canucks got a bounce when the puck took an odd bounce with Cloutier out of the net, but Allen was able to block a backhand shot by Ellison. Vandermeer was plowed in front of the bench by Goren. With just under three minutes to play, Vandermeer pulled up a seat in the penalty box again, for interference. Daniel Sedin was stopped on a one-timer set up by Carter. Bertuzzi centered to Naslund, who beat Khabibulin high to the stick side.
»» 8, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 6 (Bertuzzi, Steve McCarthy) 19:30
»» CANUCKS 6, BLACKHAWKS 2
Shots were seven apiece in the third period. Chicago outshot Vancouver 26-24 for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Ohlund, (2) Morrison, (3) Bertuzzi
D Sedin 1-0-1
H Sedin 0-1-1
Mattias Ohlund's second goal of the game put him all alone in third place on the Canucks' all-time goal-scoring list for defensemen. He now has 57, and he passed Rick Lanz at 56 goals. Ahead of Ohlund on the list are Doug Lidster with 65 and Jyrki Lumme with 83.
The final goal of the game included an assist to Steve McCarthy, who is a former Blackhawk. That assist was good for his first point of the season.
Vancouver scored three times in the first six minutes of the second period, giving them a huge cushion. From there, it was just about smooth sailing given the way Chicago was blazing a trail to the penalty box. In addition to being 4-0 when they score first, the Canucks have had more power plays in every game this season except for one, and that was the game in Detroit, which they won nonetheless. They have had 21 more powerplays than their opponents.
The big line got a good deal of ice time, all playing at or near twenty minutes. Todd Bertuzzi was a plus-3 with his three assists. Markus Naslund was a plus-2 with his assist. Brendan Morrison was a plus-2 with his goal and two assists for his best offensive output of the year. Elsewhere on the plus-minus column, plus-2 skaters included Mattias Ohlund, Nolan Baumgartner, and Steve McCarthy. The Sedins were both plus-1. All other skaters were even.
In the superstats bonanza, Steve McCarthy landed four hits, and Bertuzzi and Ohlund landed a trio of hits apiece. Naslund led the team with five shots. Daniel Sedin registered four shots. In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 48% of their draws. Morrison was 9-for-22, Ryan Kesler was 5-for-11, Henrik Sedin was 6-for-13, Bertuzzi was 2-for-4, and Trevor Linden was better than half with his 7-for-13 night.
The Canucks did what they were supposed to do, taking care of business against a less talented team that also takes a ton of penalties. What comes next? Why, a Thursday night date with Team Gretzky, of course. Then Saturday against Colorado. There's some anticipation for that one.
The Canucks are 5-1-1 (shootout loss in the third column), good for 11 points in the standings and a four-point Northwest Division lead over the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers.