Friday, October 27, 2006


AP/CP photo -- Richard Lam

The Canucks have a long history of coming back to Vancouver after a long road trip and laying an egg in the first game. Though this game marked the beginning of what would only be a two-game homestand, the Canucks were about to embark on a stretch where eight of their next ten games would be at GM Place, home of a brand new CDN $5M LED scoreboard that hangs over center ice. The Canucks came home to face the Washington Capitals, who were not only bringing wunderkind Alexander Ovechkin to the Lower Mainland, they were also bringing horribly underrated goalie Olaf Kolzig and Alexander Semin, who has quietly scored a boatload of goals to start this young season. Also, the arrival of Washington was greatly welcomed in Vancouver as an actual team from the east had come to play Vancouver. Where the unbalanced schedule has done fairly well for Major League Baseball, the overwhelming majority feel that it's done the opposite for hockey. One may remember last season, when the Canucks opened up quite well at home and then that trend reversed itself with a vengeance, one of the many things that factored into the Canucks missing the playoffs in 2005-06.

1st period
Rory Fitzpatrick was trying to fish the puck out of his own end along the right-wing boards before he was stapled to said boards by former Canuck Donald Brashear about three minutes into the game. Just short of 11 minutes in, the Canucks turned the puck over in the attacking zone and Washington took it the other way quickly. Chris Clark took the puck across the blue line and passed to Alexander Ovechkin, who skated down the slot and made a move on the backhand that was stopped nicely by Roberto Luongo to his stick side. With just over seven minutes left, the Canucks took the puck across center, and a point shot from Lukas Krajicek was stopped by Olaf Kolzig. Brendan Morrison got to the rebound and was stopped in close by Kolzig, but the puck got back to him on the end boards. Morrison immediately centered to the high slot, where Jan Bulis quickly snapped it past Kolzig.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Jan Bulis 2 (Brendan Morrison, Lukas Krajicek) 12:47
The Canucks were in the middle of a power play when a delayed penalty was in effect (Shaone Morrisonn for hooking). Luongo was pulled and the Canucks sent an extra attacker to make it a 6-on-4 situation on the ice. A big Sami Salo slapshot from up high was stopped, and Krajicek got the puck at the end boards and skated along the left-wing boards, passing back to Salo at the blue line. Salo faked revving up on the slap shot, then passed to Henrik Sedin near the right-wing boards. Henrik centered to Taylor Pyatt, who found some open ice down low and tapped it past Kolzig.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Taylor Pyatt 6 (Henrik Sedin, Sami Salo) 15:12
Vancouver badly outshot the Capitals 16-1. They were 1-for-4 on the power play and didn't take a penalty.

2nd period
About six minutes in, the Capitals were on the power play. Matt Pettinger from the left hash passed to Mike Green, whose shot from up high was blocked, and Jamie Heward's backhand attempt from mid-slot was stopped and covered by Luongo right after. Late in the period, the Canucks ran into penalty trouble as Kevin Bieksa got five for scrapping with Chris Clark, then Luc Bourdon was called for a hold 44 seconds later, followed by Mattias Ohlund getting called for a hook 52 seconds after that. If you noticed anything about the three names in the box, half of Vancouver's defense corps was in the penalty box. With a two-man advantage, Ovechkin rifled a shot from the high slot that Luongo stopped, but Dainius Zubrus was in the right spot for the rebound, putting it through Luongo on the glove side as he couldn't quite go post to post in time.
»» 3, WASHINGTON, powerplay, Dainius Zubrus 5 (Alexander Ovechkin, Brian Pothier) 16:49
With a Washington power play just expiring, Kesler turned the puck over in his own zone, and Matt Bradley on the right-wing boards passed to Brian Sutherby, who took the puck to the doorstep on Luongo's stick side, then passed to a blazing-fast Ovechkin, who put the puck past a sprawling Luongo after having sprinted all the way from the right-wing boards. Just like that, the game was tied.
»» 4, WASHINGTON, Ovechkin 6 (Brian Sutherby, Matt Bradley) 18:25
The Capitals outshot Vancouver 16-11 in the period (but were behind 27-16). They were 1-for-4 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-1 (1-for-5 overall).

3rd period
Just past the five-minute mark, a Bourdon shot was blocked and Washington rushed it the other way. The puck came across center, and Ovechkin took it across the Vancouver blue line and rushed to the right circle, but Bourdon raced back to dive and pokecheck the puck away from Ovechkin. About six and a half minutes in, Bulis on the forecheck mashed Ben Clymer into the end boards. Vancouver once again badly outshot the Capitals 15-2 (42-19 overall). They were 0-for-2 (1-for-7) on the power play while Washington never got a power play chance (1-for-4).

Just past the half-minute mark, Bieksa stripped the puck away and he and Henrik Sedin headed off on a 2-on-1. At that point, Daniel Sedin came in behind the play and the twins did a little give-and-go, with Daniel ending up with the puck in front and getting absolutely robbed by Kolzig. Shots were two apiece in the overtime (44-21 total) and neither team had a power play chance. Washington finished 1-for-4 on the power play and Vancouver was 1-for-7. Luongo stopped 19 shots for the game.

D Sedin -- NO; Daniel went from backhand to forehand, but Kolzig stopped with right pad
Pettinger -- NO; Pettinger went through the middle and Luongo came way out to challenge stopping an attempt at the five-hole
Naslund -- YES; Naslund went from the right to the middle and made good on a backhand shot
Ovechkin -- NO; Ovechkin went from left to middle with speed and great move, deke from backhand to forehand and he had Luongo beat high to the glove side, but he hit the post
Morrison -- YES; Morrison went from forehand to backhand and tried the five-hole, and it appeared Kolzig had stopped it, but the puck trickled through and over the goal line, almost anticlimactically consider how stellar Kolzig was during the game

Three stars -- (1) Washington's Olaf Kolzig, (2) Morrison, (3) Naslund

skater, goals-assists-points
Bulis 1-0-1
Pyatt 1-0-1
Krajicek 0-1-1
Morrison 0-1-1
Salo 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 28 of 60 draws (47%). Brendan Morrison won nine of 15, Ryan Kesler won seven of 14, Josh Green lost his only two draws, Marc Chouinard won five of 11, and Henrik Sedin won seven of 16. Sami Salo led the team with seven shots while Mattias Ohlund had six, and Daniel Sedin and Jan Bulis had five shots each. Taylor Pyatt and Matt Cooke dealt three hits. Alexandre Burrows, Markus Naslund, and Cooke notched two takeaways apiece. Luc Bourdon coughed up the puck twice. Kevin Bieksa led the team with three blocked shots, and Lukas Krajicek, Burrows, and Cooke blocked a pair apiece. Naslund missed the net with four shots.

In plus-minus, the plus-skating Canucks (all plus-1) were Morrison, Rory Fitzpatrick, Naslund, and Bulis. The minus-skating Canucks (all minus-1) were Ohlund, Salo, Kesler, and Cooke. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The win propelled the Canucks to a record of 7-4-1 (3-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 15 points. They have the fourth-most points in the conference, and they sit fifth in the West, three back of West-leading Minnesota, two back of Anaheim, Nashville leads their division (Vancouver has four more points), and Dallas is a point ahead. All of those teams have two games in hand except for Nashville, who has three. The Canucks have one point more than sixth-place San Jose, three more than seventh-place Edmonton (who has two games in hand), and four up on eighth-place Detroit. Minnesota leads the Northwest Division, the Canucks are second, and Edmonton is third. Colorado lies five back with two games in hand, and Calgary is eight back with four in hand.

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