Saturday, October 22, 2005


Canucks 6, Avalanche 4
Reuters photo -- Andy Clark

[posted in full Mon ~3:52p]

Subplots here were pretty obvious. This was the first time since March 8th of 2004 that these two teams got together to play. March 8th of that year was one of the darkest days in sports history. In case there was anything left over from that day (though there was a ton of roster turnover since), Colin Campbell was in attendance. Campbell and commissioner Gary Bettman will be in attendance when the Canucks play in Denver Thursday and Saturday.

As for matchups against the Avalanche, the Canucks had won only six of 25 home games against Colorado. To help the home team out, though, another 18630 fans packed GM Place, giving the Canucks their 91st straight home sellout. Would they need it against a team that just got Milan Hejduk back off the shelf? I'll tip you off. They would. Alex Tanguay, Joe Sakic, and Hejduk played like Hejduk never was injured. Hejduk was also looking for his 200th career goal.

The other weird subplot? Brad May now plays for the Avalanche. He got booed often by the GM Place crowd, something which I think both can and can't be explained.

1st period
Matt Cooke set an early tone for the Canucks, landing hard hits on Joe Sakic and Alex Tanguay. After a Mattias Ohlund backhand shot was stopped by Colorado goalie Peter Budaj, Lee Goren was called for interference to put the Canucks down a man. Dan Cloutier had to make key saves on Milan Hejduk, Joe Sakic (twice), and Patrice Brisebois on the resulting power play. Just after the penalty expired, Richard Park had a backhander stopped after he ran a give-and-go with Ohlund. Brad May had a shto blocked, and Cloutier stopped the rebound. Ryan Kesler had a sharp-angle shot, but Budaj closed up the short side and stopped it. Then Ohlund went for charging. Just after the Ohlund penalty expired, Goren went back again, this time for tripping. Cloutier then flashed some brilliance, stopping a John-Michael Liles one-timer, then leaving rebounds but robbing Sakic twice. Cloutier covered a Rob Blake one-timer with his chest. The penalty expired, and the Canucks had a 3-on-1 rush, but Goren hurried a bit too quickly coming in from the box. May tripped Nolan Baumgartner, putting Vancouver on the power play. The Avalanche had a 2-on-1 shorthanded run stuffed when Baumgartner lifted Ian Laperriere's stick. Jovanovski fed Bryan Allen on the left side, where the latter fired a wrister off Budaj's stick, through his legs, and into the net.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Bryan Allen 1 (Ed Jovanovski, Trevor Linden) 16:36
Markus Naslund was pulled down shortly after, and Wojtek Wolski went to the box for hooking. A bad pass almost resulted in a scoring chance for Laperriere, but the Canucks were quick to regroup. Naslund fed Todd Bertuzzi, who was stopped in front, but Jovanovski lofted the rebound over Budaj to double the Vancouver lead.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Jovanovski 2 (Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison) 18:43
May took down Ohlund quite far from his own net, and he was called for it. There was some scuffling at the end of the period, and it went far enough to where Blake was penalized at the last horn of the period. Vancouver would begin the second period on a two-man advantage. Colorado had the play going their way for most of the period, but they just couldn't score. They outshot Vancouver 13-9.

2nd period
The Canucks had a puck roll to the goal line, but Budaj was able to kick it out, and the Canucks didn't score on the two-man advantage. Vancouver had trouble clearing the puck at times. A bad pass by Bertuzzi was the precursor to a bad play. Ohlund took the puck behind his own net, but he had his pocket picked, and Antti Laaksonen moved in front of the net with a quick backhand and beat Cloutier to cut the Vancouver lead in half.
»» 3, COLORADO, Antti Laaksonen 3 (Andrew Brunette) 5:13
Linden centered to Jarkko Ruutu, who was stopped nicely by Budaj's left arm. Henrik Sedin was stopped in close on a backhand attempt. Sakic was about to put a backhander on the net, but Kesler poked it away at the last second. Brett Clark passed in front of his own net to Park, who had a shot blocked by Liles. Baumgartner worked a give-and-go with Naslund but was stopped. Again, the Canucks had some trouble clearing as Hejduk had a quick shot stopped by Cloutier's left pad, then Karlis Skrastins had a long shot blocked before the puck was finally cleared. Sami Salo gave the puck away to Marek Svatos, who had a shot stopped and covered. Hejduk had his stick lifted by Morrison. Liles was nailed by Bertuzzi, who later bowled his way to the net but failed to get a shot away. Park was hit from behind, and Ossi Vaananen went to the box for boarding. Henrik Sedin slap-passed to Daniel Sedin, who tipped it in over Budaj's shoulder. Nice puck movement got the Canucks a 3-1 lead.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Daniel Sedin 3 (Henrik Sedin, Anson Carter) 16:40
Right after, Bertuzzi had a shot stopped, and Morrison was foiled on the rebound as well. Bertuzzi went to the box for tripping, though fans thought there instead was a dive on the play. The Colorado power play didn't last too long since Jovanvoski was taken down by Liles. Tanguay was pokechecked in close by Jovanovski. Naslund went to the net and was pad-stopped. Vancouver had a flurry of chances before the horn ended the period. The pace of the game was quick, and Colorado outshot the Canucks 11-10 in the period and 24-19 overall.

3rd period
Then it got crazy, though not right away. At first, it looked like the Canucks had total control of the game. Brett McLean ran into Cloutier, and that gave Vancouver an early power play. Salo shot a wrister wide, Daniel Sedin one-timed a shot to the glove side that barely missed, then Carter didn't quite deflect a puck on the goal from Daniel. After the penalty had expired, Naslund centered to Bertuzzi, who was quite robbed, but the rebound was right there for Morrison, who went high to beat the sprawling Budaj and give the Canucks what seemed to be a somewhat safe 4-1 lead.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Morrison 2 (Todd Bertuzzi, Naslund) 5:54
Salo went to the box for hooking right after the goal. Cloutier robbed Hejduk, who was still looking for number 200. Kesler and Matt Cooke got on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush, and Kesler was pokechecked by Brisebois, though the crowd wanted a tripping call. Daniel Sedin put a move on Clark, who put a leg out to trip the Swede, and to the box went Clark. After the penalty had expired, Henrik Sedin centered for brother Daniel, who quickly put it past the stick side on Budaj to give the Canucks what seemed like a commanding 5-1 lead with just over 14 minutes left to play.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, D Sedin 4 (H Sedin, Nolan Baumgartner) 13:00
Wolski went to the box soon after for hooking, so surely this helped Vancouver. Goren put a helmet-detaching hit on Vaananen. Cooke centered to Park, who barely missed a tip-in. The CKNW crew of John Shorthouse and Tom Larscheid called this next play an All-Star Game-type goal because Brad May went end to end -- nearly untouched -- and got behind a bit of a screen, backhanding past a sprawling Cloutier.
»» 7, COLORADO, Brad May 1 (unassisted) 17:01
Before anyone settled down from that goal, Hejduk centered to Brisebois, who beat Cloutier high glove.
»» 8, COLORADO, Patrice Brisebois 4 (Milan Hejduk, Joe Sakic) 17:18
It wasn't a good time for Salo to visit the penalty box for holding, but he did nonetheless, though he'd fallen down on the play. With Colorado pulling Budaj and going 6-on-4, Blake one-timed a shot off of Cloutier's left pad, but Tanguay was right there for the rebound, smacking it past Cloutier. Yes, that's right. It had gone from a convincing Vancouver win to a one-goal game in a span of just 99 seconds.
»» 9, COLORADO, powerplay, Alex Tanguay 1 (Rob Blake, Sakic) 18:40
Ohlund intercepted a Tanguay centering pass and flipped it out to center. Park put another puck out to center. Cooke shot wide on the empty net, but Linden won a battle along the boards and flipped one into the empty net from the red line, finally putting the game away for good.
»» 10, VANCOUVER, empty net, Linden 1 (Morrison) 19:52
Colorado took a 32-22 edge on shots, and Dan Cloutier stopped 29 for Vancouver.

Three stars -- (1) Jovanovski, (2) D Sedin, (3) Colorado's Alex Tanguay

skater, goals-assists-points
Morrison 1-2-3
D Sedin 2-0-2
Jovanovski 1-1-2
Linden 1-1-2
Naslund 0-2-2
H Sedin 0-2-2
Allen 1-0-1
Baumgartner 0-1-1
Bertuzzi 0-1-1
Carter 0-1-1

With this win, the Canucks closed out a perfect four-game homestand, winning their fifth straight overall. The game looked better after 57 minutes of play than it did after the full 60, but a perfect homestand is a perfect homestand. A win against your main division rival is still a win against your main division rival.

With their 2-for-9 mark in this game, the Canucks have 11 power play goals in their last 5 games. The Canucks killed off all eight power plays in the previous game against Phoenix and killed off the first five penalties in this game until Alex Tanguay scored. I heard someone once say that your special teams are where they need to be if the power play percentage and the penalty-killing percentage add up to 100 or more. Vancouver is currently killing at a 77 percent rate and making good on 18.9% of their power plays. That adds up to just short of 96. They need some work on the kill, but that's been improving as of late after an iffy start.

Trevor Linden scored his first point of the year on the first goal of the game, and his first goal came on the empty net, his 350th career goal. The first Vancouver goal also gave Ed Jovanovski a four-game point streak; his goal (second Vancouver goal of the game) was that he has eight points in that stretch. The third Canuck goal gave Henrik Sedin a four-game point streak. Here's the Shorthouse stat: when both Henrik and Daniel Sedin end up on the scoresheet, the Canucks have a record of 62-13-7-3, including 4-0 this season.

Perhaps still used to the old NHL, Vancouver coach Marc Crawford put fourth-liners into the game on the power play in the third period with the big lead, and Colorado stormed back. Tom Larscheid noted this after the game, basically saying that an old coach told him "you can't give a sucker an even break." In the final minute of the game against Chicago, Markus Naslund scored the sixth goal in the final minute of what ended up a 6-2 Vancouver win. Shorthouse and Larscheid brought up the point that in past years, teams might have made a run at Naslund if he was on the ice that late in a game where Vancouver had a big lead. Though that still was pretty late to have Naslund on the ice, I figure the Sedins and Anson Carter had to see some time between the goals, and they didn't see much.

Here's the superstats bonanza. The Canucks were 29-for-60 in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 10-for-24, Trevor Linden was 2-for-7, Ryan Kesler was 8-for-15, and Henrik Sedin was 8-for-11. Brendan Morrison was a plus-3 to go with his three points. Plus-one skaters included Mattias Ohlund, Nolan Baumgartner, Sami Salo, Trevor Linden, and Jarkko Ruutu. The minus skaters, at minus-one, were Lee Goren, Henrik Sedin, and Ed Jovanovski. All other skaters were even. Matt Cooke delivered six hits. Linden and Ruutu recorded two takeaways apiece.

The Canucks, winners of five straight, are now 7-1-1 on the season, good for 15 points in the standings. They hold a four-point Northwest Division lead over the Minnesota Wild and hold a eight-point lead over Colorado, who the Canucks will play in Denver next Thursday and Saturday. The Canucks will travel to face Minnesota on Tuesday. On the flipside, ten of Colorado's next twenty games are against either Edmonton or Vancouver. Colorado is in a three-way tie for third (and last) place after this game.

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