Monday, November 06, 2006
It didn't look good. The Canucks came in 7-7-1 on the season and came home to start a six-game homestand to try to improve on a 2-2 home record so far this season. Of course, the bad thing was that they were matched up against the Dallas Stars, one of the hotter teams in the West in the early going. Also, Dallas goalie Marty Turco came in with a 12-2 career record against the Canucks (he has a crazy record against Canadian teams). The good news? Dallas decided to give Turco a rest for this game, and they started backup goalie Mike Smith instead. The six-game homestand wasn't going to exactly be a cinch of a homestand, either. Dallas would be followed by white-hot Anaheim. Calgary, early season struggles aside, is still a division rival (one of those "throw out the stats" games) and was slated for the third game. Detroit, Saint Louis, and Chicago would round out the back half of the homestand. Also, the Canucks were going to be nearing a decision on whether or not to keep Luc Bourdon or to send him back to junior. If they keep him on for a tenth game, it starts his free-agency eligibility clock. It'd be nice to send him to Manitoba, but you have to be 20 years of age to play in the AHL, and Bourdon is 19.
Just after a Vancouver power play had expired near the midway point of the period, Kevin Bieksa put a run-of-the-mill shoot-in to the net from just past the red line on the Canuck logo, and it got through the five-hole on Dallas goalie Mike Smith.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Kevin Bieksa 2 (Alexander Edler, Roberto Luongo) 9:28
Late in the period as a Canuck power play was ending, Brenden Morrow skated up the left-wing boards and centered to Stu Barnes, who got a hard shot in close on Roberto Luongo that was stopped and covered. Vancouver badly outshot Dallas 13-3. Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Just under seven minutes into the period with the Canucks about to get called on a delayed penalty, Mike Modano passed from the right point to Eric Lindros a few strides in from the right point, who one-timed it off of Luongo and into the net on the glove side.
»» 2, DALLAS, Eric Lindros 4 (Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov) 6:43
About nine minutes in, Mike Ribeiro skated down the left side on a Dallas power play and centered to Morrow in the slot, who faked a shot and passed to Lindros, who was stopped close on the short side by Luongo. With just over six minutes left and the Canucks shorthanded, Josh Green skated in on a breakaway and deked back to the forehand, but was robbed by the right arm of Smith. Vancouver was outshot 8-7 in the period but still led 21-11 after 40 minutes. Dallas was 0-for-3 (0-for-7) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-2 (0-for-6).
With about three and a half minutes left, Antti Miettinen camped behind the Vancouver net and passed to Sergei Zubov on the right wing, whose fling toward the net was deflected away by Luongo. After Morrow went off with 2:17 to go thanks to a soft elbowing call, the Canucks went on their eighth power play of the game. Henrik Sedin from the goal line on the right side passed across to Mattias Ohlund, who took the pass in close on Smith's stick side and put it off the post. The puck bounced back through to the slot, where Taylor Pyatt came away from the net and gave chase, corralling it and holding it as Philippe Boucher went by trying to block his shot, then he roofed it over the glove side past Smith.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Taylor Pyatt 7 (Mattias Ohlund, Henrik Sedin) 19:15
Vancouver was outshot 9-6 in the period but led 26-20 for the game. Dallas didn't get a power play and finished 0-for-7 while Vancouver was 1-for-2 (1-for-8). Luongo stopped 19 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Bieksa, (2) Dallas' Eric Lindros, (3) Luongo
Luongo 0-1-1 (goalie)
H Sedin 0-1-1
I don't quite have the immediate means with which to find the actual times of the plays to which I'm about to refer, but they both occurred with the game tied at 1-1 (probably in the third period). Lukas Krajicek from the left side centered to Pyatt, who put the puck to the net and was stopped by Smith as the Dallas goalie was plowed into by Henrik Sedin as both went into the net. Later, Krajicek gave away the puck close to his own net, Mike Modano deked to Luongo's left, but Luongo came out to challenge him and stopped the puck with the pads. Krajicek ran into him a bit and while Luongo was still down, he reached up to glove a backhand shot on the rebound on an incredible play.
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 30 of 52 draws (58%). Brendan Morrison won six of ten, Ryan Kesler won 12 of 19, Tommi Santala won one of three, and Henrik Sedin won nine of 16. Henrik Sedin led the team with four shots, and Kevin Bieksa, Taylor Pyatt, and Markus Naslund had three shots apiece. Trevor Linden dished out three hits, and Bieksa, Santala, and Jan Bulis dealt two hits each. Mattias Ohlund blocked three shots, and Lukas Krajicek, Alexandre Burrows, and Rory Fitzpatrick each blocked two. Ohlund missed the net with two shots.
In plus-minus, the minus-skating Canucks (all minus-1) were Krajicek, Morrison, Naslund, and Bulis. Plus-skating Canucks (all plus-1) were Linden, Alexander Edler, Josh Green, and Tommi Santala. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The win pushes the Canucks to 8-7-1 (3-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 17 points, putting them back over Colorado for second in the Northwest Division. The bad news is that every team in the Western Conference has played less games than Vancouver. Vancouver is a mere three points back of the division-leading Minnesota Wild, but the Wild have three games in hand. Colorado a point behind Vancouver has two games in hand. Edmonton at fourth in the division has three less points than Vancouver as well as three games in hand. Calgary has ten points in 13 total games. Anaheim leads the conference with 26 points (and no regulation losses). Minnesota leads the Northwest and Nashville (19 points) leads the Central, and the teams are second and third in the West. Dallas is fourth with 22, the Sharks are fifth with 20, and Detroit has 19 in sixth. Colorado is eighth. Vancouver hosts Anaheim on Thursday to continue a long-awaited six-game homestand.