Saturday, November 11, 2006
What's known as Veterans' Day stateside is Remembrance Day in Canada. Pregame ceremonies at GM Place were held to honor members of the Canadian forces, including a serviceman dropping the puck between Jarome Iginla and Markus Naslund. The Calgary Flames had this game as the second of a back-to-back set, having flown in from beating the Anaheim Ducks at home and ending their NHL-record start without a regulation loss. It was their third straight win overall. They came to Vancouver wanting to make it four straight. The scary thing for the Canucks is that at this time last season, Calgary had pretty much the same record and then got hot and ended up winning the division, leapfrogging the Canucks in the process. Last year's scenario is a bit more harrowing since Vancouver had started out 8-1-1. For this game, the Canucks welcomed the return of defenseman Sami Salo, who had been sitting out with a knee sprain. Thus, only one-third of the starting Canuck blue line is out with injury as opposed to one-half. Nathan McIver was sent back to Manitoba with Salo returning. His scrap against Travis Moen of the Ducks was greatly appreciated. Furthermore, in a pursuit to hold players accountable, coach Alain Vigneault scratched Jan Bulis and knocked Brendan Morrison down to the left wing of the fourth line. Thus, the centers were Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Marc Chouinard, and Tommi Santala.
On a Vancouver power play halfway through the period, the puck worked from the left-wing boards to behind the net to the right-wing boards and finally to Sami Salo at the blue line, who unloaded a slapshot that deflected off Marcus Nilson's stick and past Miikka Kiprusoff.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Sami Salo 4 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 10:18
Halfway through a power play with four and a half minutes left, Salo had a wide slapshot go off the end boards and come back out to Daniel Sedin, who put it quickly to the wide-open stick side of Kiprusoff, but the Calgary goalie dove back quickly to glove the shot and hold on. On a later power play, a Patrick Coulombe centering pass went to Matt Cooke, who had his back to the net and passed to Brendan Morrison trailing in the slot, who then passed to Taylor Pyatt at his immediate right. Pyatt snapped it past Kiprusoff.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Taylor Pyatt 8 (Brendan Morrison, Matt Cooke) 18:52
Shots were ten apiece in the period. Calgary was 0-for-2 on the power play while Vancouver was 2-for-3.
On Calgary's second power play of the period, Jarome Iginla got a shot off from the left side and looked at it a bit too long as Cooke drilled him with a hit and broke his stick in the process. The bad news is that it got Iginla going. With just under five minutes left in the period, Iginla rushed across center ice through the Vancouver defense and went straight at Roberto Luongo from the left side, putting it past Luongo before crashing into the net as Mattias Ohlund unsuccessfully gave pursuit.
»» 3, CALGARY, Jarome Iginla 9 (Alex Tanguay, Rhett Warrener) 15:15
Vancouver outshot the Flames 12-5 in the period (22-15 overall). They were 0-for-1 (2-for-4) on the power play while Calgary was 0-for-2 (0-for-4).
Near the five-minute mark, Ryan Kesler was crushed into the boards in the Calgary zone by Andrei Zyuzin. Seconds later, Lukas Krajicek just missed lining Iginla up for a hit behidn the Vancouver net. Iginla worked the puck from behind the net to the left-wing boards and passed to Alex Tanguay in the left circle, who quickly dished off to Rhett Warrener near the right hash. Warrener quickly tapped it through on Luongo for his first goal of the season.
»» 4, CALGARY, Warrener 1 (Tanguay, Iginla) 5:29
With just under eight minutes left, Cooke from the goal line near the right corner centered to Josh Green skating into the low slot, who didn't get a full shot off, but Kiprusoff still had to stop it with the right pad. Later, Morrison chased the puck in the Calgary zone but was bowled over at the end boards by Andrew Ference. Matthew Lombardi then took the puck from behind his own net and skated through all the way to the right hash in the Vancouver zone before a backward centering pass went off Krajicek's stick and was slowed down. The loose puck went back toward the right hash and Kristian Huselius was in the right place at the right time, backhanding the puck through some moderate traffic and under the crossbar to net the Flames the win.
»» 5, CALGARY, Kristian Huselius 4 (Matthew Lombardi) 16:28
Shots were six apiece in the period (Vancouver 28-21 total). Vancouver was 0-for-2 (2-for-6) on the power play while Calgary didn't get a power play in the period and finished 0-for-4, running the Canucks' penalty kill streak to 22. Luongo stopped 18 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Calgary's Jarome Iginla, (2) Naslund, (3) Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 25 of 56 draws (45%). Brendan Morrison won four of six, Ryan Kesler won seven of 14, Daniel Sedin lost his two, Josh Green lost his two, Tommi Santala won one of six (ouch), Marc Chouinard won one of seven (ouch again), and Henrik Sedin won 11 of 17. Kesler led the team with five shots, and Markus Naslund and Green each had four shots. Kevin Bieksa and Alexandre Burrows each delivered three hits. Burrows also notched two takeaways. Lukas Krajicek blocked three shots, and Burrows and Green blocked two each. Naslund missed the net with four shots.
On plus-minus, Vancouver's only goals were on the power play, so it's a minus-fest. At minus-1 were Mattias Ohlund, Bieksa, Morrison, Naslund, Daniel Sedin, Alexander Edler, Santala, and Henrik Sedin. At minus-2 were Burrows and Matt Cooke. The lone minus-3 was Krajicek.
The loss dropped Vancouver to 8-9-1 (3-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 17 points. Worse yet, in the age of the unbalanced schedule, the Canucks are a pathetic 1-5-1 against Northwest Division teams. Vancouver is third in the division, five points back of Minnesota and tied with Edmonton in points but the Oilers have played two less games. Calgary is a point back of Vancouver but has played two less games, likewise with Colorado. Anaheim leads the conference with 28 points, red-hot Detroit is second with 23 points to lead their division, Minnesota is third, San Jose is fourth with 26 points (trailing Anaheim in the Pacific), Dallas is fifth with 24 points (trailing Anaheim and the Sharks in the Pacific), Nashville is sixth with 21, and Edmonton and Vancouver round out seventh and eighth in the West. Colorado and Calgary are ninth and tenth.