Saturday, January 28, 2006


Canucks 4, Avalanche 3 (SO)
Reuters photo -- Mark Leffingwell

[posted in full Sat 4 Feb ~5:23p]

It's one thing to start out a seven-game road trip by losing three straight. It's quite another to lose four straight. It's even worse if you lose that fourth game to a key division rival. The Canucks were trying to hold off the golden sombrero in Denver for this one, and they were without the services of Markus Naslund (groin) for it.

1st period
Just 62 seconds into the game, Sami Salo chipped the puck over the glass, but the Canucks killed off the penalty. Four minutes in, Bryan Allen and Ian Laperriere got into it, and both went off for five minutes. Later in the period, Ryan Kesler was hit with a double-minor for high-sticking John-Michael Liles. On the resulting power play, Bob Boughner shot from the right point and Andrew Brunette deflected the puck past the stick side on Alex Auld.
»» 1, COLORADO, powerplay, Andrew Brunette 14 (Bob Boughner, Patrice Brisebois) 16:14
The Canucks got a hold of the puck while trying to kill off the second half of the Kesler penalty. Trevor Linden skated the puck into the Colorado zone and passed to Henrik Sedin, who didn't get a shot away, then skated into the right-wing corner and toward the right point. He centered to Mattias Ohlund, who snapped the puck past David Aebischer for a key goal late in the period.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, shorthanded, Mattias Ohlund 7 (Henrik Sedin, Trevor Linden) 17:57
Vancouver outshot the Avalanche 10-9 in the period. They were 0-for-2 on the power play, and Colorado was 1-for-4.

2nd period
Rack up some more penalty minutes for Kesler. He got into a scrap with Laperriere and was beaten. About 3:30 into the period, Brett McLean had a shot go off of Auld and toward center ice, where Anson Carter raced after it and broke past the defense. He got a shot off from just in front of the goal line on the right side. Carter scooted the shot under Aebischer's glove, but it hit the post. With about four minutes gone in the period, Alex Tanguay was going to go off for a delayed hooking penalty, and Auld raced to the bench for an extra attacker. Steve McCarthy mishandled the puck in the Colorado end, and the puck bounced backward off the boards and moved toward the Vancouver net, nearly going into it, but hitting the side of it. With 12:20 left in the period, Milan Hejduk put a deke on Auld, but was robbed by the glove. With about four minutes left, Todd Bertuzzi dropped a pass back to Daniel Sedin, who rushed the net and was robbed by the left pad of Aebischer. Inside two minutes remaining, Bertuzzi was slashed across the right wrist and there was no call, causing the fans in Denver to cheer with excitement as Bertuzzi headed off the ice in pain. Shortly thereafter, Alexandre Burrows brought the puck into the Colorado end and dished off to Bryan Allen, who blasted a slapshot from the left point that was stopped by Aebischer. Jarkko Ruutu had been going to the net and he picked up the rebound and put it through on the short (stick) side of Aebischer for another late Vancouver goal. Ruutu had ended his five-game scoring drought.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Jarkko Ruutu 10 (Bryan Allen, Alexandre Burrows) 18:30
Vancouver was outshot 17-10 in the period (26-20 overall). They were 0-for-1 on the power play (0-for-3) and Colorado was 0-for-2 (1-for-6).

3rd period
Right off the opening faceoff, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hinote exchanged fisticuffs, with either a draw or a Bieksa win being the decision. Later, Boughner and Ohlund went off for diving and boarding, respectively. Shortly after, Brendan Morrison shot through a screen from just past the right circle along the boards and was partially stopped by Aebischer. The puck went off the post and came out, but Kesler was in front of the net and beat Liles to the puck, stuffing it through.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Ryan Kesler 5 (Brendan Morrison, Nolan Baumgartner) 9:12
Shortly after the Kesler goal, there were skirmishes in the stands and a water bottle was thrown onto the ice in Bertuzzi's direction, which made one of the officials summon security to remove a fan from the stands. Brunette from behind the net centered the puck in front. Karlis Skarstins tried to jab it into the net but was stopped. Marek Svatos got the rebound and put it over Auld's right leg.
»» 5, COLORADO, Marek Svatos 30 (Karlis Skrastins, Brunette) 13:25
A fight broke out in the stands behind the Vancouver net after the Svatos goal, and police had entered the arena, escorting out some fans in Canuck jerseys. With the CBC off the air, Brunette came out from behind the net and centered to Patrice Brisebois, who was stopped. Brad Richardson made good on the rebound with an open net since Auld was a bit far out in front.
»» 6, COLORADO, Brad Richardson 1 (Patrice Brisebois, Brunette) 15:21
Vancouver was again outshot 16-10 in the period (42-30 overall). No power plays occurred in the period, just a fight and some coincidental minors.

Though no goals were scored, it was eventful. Bertuzzi left his zone too early at one point and couldn't get back soon enough, and that led to Baumgartner hooking with 3:14 left, which isn't too timely in overtime. Even more untimely for Colorado was that Rob Blake took them off the power play by pulling down Ruutu in front of the Colorado net with 58 seconds left in their man-advantage. Thusly, fans were treated to a rare 3-on-3 overtime session and the Canucks later were unsuccessful in 62 seconds of power play time. Both teams had one shot apiece (Colorado outshot Vancouver 43-31 total) and were both 0-for-1 on the power play (Vancouver finished 0-for-4, Colorado was 1-for-7). Auld stopped 40 shots in the game, and had a few more to go.

Ruutu -- YES; lots of speed, deke and score on the backhand, roofed
Svatos -- NO; gloved by auld
Kesler -- NO; stick-side attempt, closed off
Joe Sakic -- NO; wrister hit the post, Sakic is 0-for-5 this season in shootouts
Carter -- NO; pad stack glove-side
Hejduk -- NO; five-hole closed

Three stars -- (1) Colorado's Andrew Brunette, (2) Ohlund, (3) Colorado's Brad Richardson

skater, goals-assists-points
Kesler 1-0-1
Ohlund 1-0-1
Ruutu 1-0-1
Allen 0-1-1
Baumgartner 0-1-1
Burrows 0-1-1
Linden 0-1-1
Morrison 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

I thought it to be a bit incredible that this was the fourth meeting of the Canucks and Avalanche in Denver and nothing dumb had happened fan-wise in the previous three. For the game itself, Alex Auld was incredible even as getting peppered by pucks. His confidence has to be growing, not just he stopped the 40 pucks in regulation, but also because he managed to keep pucks out of the net in a shootout against Marek Svatos, Joe Sakic, and Milan Hejduk. No small beans there. Obviously, the three stars displayed above were the ones in the arena, credited to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, who somehow didn't have Auld in his three stars despite 40 saves and stopped those three guys in the shootout.

The Canucks were 40-for-74 (54%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 13-for-23, Trevor Linden was 0-for-3, Ryan Kesler was 14-for-23, Henrik Sedin was a very good 11-for-16, and Josh Green was 1-for-7. Daniel Sedin and Todd Bertuzzi led the team with five shots apiece. Jarkko Ruutu and Bertuzzi led with two hits apiece. Sami Salo and Steve McCarthy led with two takeaways apiece. Mattias Ohlund blocked a stunning six shots.

Morrison was the only plus-2 Canuck. Plus-1 Canucks were Nolan Baumgartner, Bryan Allen, Salo, Alexandre Burrows, Kesler, and Ruutu. Minus-1 Canucks were Tyler Bouck, Daniel Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Green, and Anson Carter. All other Canuck skaters were even.

Vancouver is now 29-18-5 (2-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 63 points and a tie for the Northwest Division lead, except Calgary has two games in hand. Colorado got a point in this game, so Vancouver is two points up on them. The Canucks have a lead of three points on the Edmonton Oilers. Also, the win against Colorado gave Vancouver a slightly better 7-10-4 division record. Detroit leads the conference with 71 points, thanks largely to their weak division.

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