Tuesday, November 14, 2006


AP/CP photo -- Richard Lam

The Canucks won in Detroit on opening night this season. Solid goaltending and hard work were the culprits there. Fast-forward about a month and a half, and the one-goal games that were going Vancouver's way are now going the other way. The team is getting a ton of scoring chances, but the players aren't burying them. What do they do now? In a way, the team has to not lose hope in the system and what they're doing, though you have to wonder how long the players will believe in it when they're not getting results. A loss in this game would make it six in their last seven games. Not helping the Canucks was the fact that the Red Wings had won eight straight and were gunning for a club-record ninth straight win. To help the Canucks in their suddenly dire pursuit of a win, defenseman Willie Mitchell finally returned to the lineup after missing nine games due to a concussion and its related lingering effects. To make room for Mitchell, Alexander Edler was a healthy scratch. Tommi Santala was also a healthy scratch for the game. Also helping the Canucks were a couple of injuries for Detroit, namely those to Jason Williams and Tomas Holmstrom. In related news, the Red Wings came in with an 8-0 record this season when scoring the first goal.

1st period
The Red Wings were called for two early penalties that landed the Canucks a prolonged power play including 25 seconds of five-on-three play. In that supposed Canuck advantage, Detroit won all four faceoffs that took place and the Canucks failed to register a shot on goal. Later on, Detroit had a three-on-one after Kevin Bieksa coughed up the puck, but Roberto Luongo came out to challenge and stopped a Mathieu Schneider slap shot. The Canucks had a power play later in the period and recorded one shot and missed the net with another. Detroit outshot Vancouver 10-4 in the period. They didn't get a power play chance, but Vancouver was 0-for-3 on the man advantage.

2nd period
The Canucks weathered off a Sami Salo slashing penalty that included three Detroit shots and a ring of the crossbar by Henrik Zetterberg. However, it turns out Detroit is crap on the power play this season, but they make their bacon with strong five-on-five play. After Kris Draper beat Mattias Ohlund for a what would have been icing, Valtteri Filppula came out from behind the net and backhanded a shot that rolled up and over Luongo and into the net.
»» 1, DETROIT, Valtteri Filppula 2 (Daniel Cleary, Kris Draper) 4:36
A few minutes later on a Vancouver power play, Markus Naslund wristed a puck from the right faceoff dot that was stopped by Dominik Hasek, but the Czech left a rebound near the goal line to his left, and Henrik Sedin skated in and put the puck past Hasek from a very sharp angle.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Henrik Sedin 3 (Daniel Sedin, Markus Naslund) 7:49
With just over seven minutes remaining, the Red Wings had just come across the blue line when Robert Lang left a drop pass for Chris Chelios, who boomed a slap shot that went off the skate of Josh Green, and Luongo played the deflection very nicely, covering it up for the whistle. Detroit outshot Vancouver 14-6 (24-10 overall). They were 0-for-3 on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-1 (1-for-4).

3rd period
Ten seconds into the period, Josh Langfeld hung a leg on Ryan Kesler with no whistle, and Alexandre Burrows later took umbrage to the action. About a minute later, a battle for the puck in the left-wing corner of the Vancouver zone resulted in Brendan Morrison falling to the ice after contact with Zetterberg. He stayed down for a while in disbelief that no penalty was called. On the same play, the puck went toward the left point where Nicklas Lidstrom held it in and fed it through to Zetterberg low in the slot, who backhanded it past Luongo.
»» 3, DETROIT, Henrik Zetterberg 6 (Nicklas Lidstrom) 1:28
The Zetterberg goal had just been announced when Marc Chouinard had the puck behind the Detroit net and passed to Trevor Linden in the right-wing corner. Linden skated along the side boards and centered to Kevin Bieksa, who skated into the slot and buried it. It was a milestone for Linden, who had recorded his 400th assist and 700th point as a Canuck.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Kevin Bieksa 3 (Trevor Linden, Marc Chouinard) 1:58
Just over four minutes into the period, Danny Markov was called for holding the stick. The Canucks mounted their best sustained pressure of the game on the ensuing power play and seemed to be knocking on the door for the go-ahead goal. As the power play ticked down into its final seconds, Sami Salo had a shot blocked and run quickly the other way. Dan Cleary held the puck at center and dished off to Johan Franzen just off the bench as the other Detroit penalty killers went off for a badly needed change. Franzen walked the puck across the blue line to the right point and to the back of the right circle, where Franzen used Patrick Coulombe as a bit of a screen and flung a seeimngly harmless wrister to the net that snuck through the five hole on Luongo and sucked the air out of the Garage.
»» 5, DETROIT, shorthanded, Johan Franzen 3 (Cleary) 6:19
A couple minutes later, Burrows had a goal that was waved off because Jan Bulis was in the blue paint behind Hasek and interfered with his pads, so regardless of the puck going in, Bulis would have gone off for interference anyway. The rest of the period didn't feature too many Vancouver chances, and even worse, the Canucks took two penalties, one of which was too many men (the Bulis penalty was the other). The Canucks killed those penalties, running their streak to 27 successful kills. The Canucks pulled Luongo from the net with 1:20 left for an extra attacker, but the best thing that happened after that was Burrows blocking a shot in front of the empty net. Detroit was outshot 10-9 in the period but amassed a big shot advantage, 33-20 for the game. They were 0-for-2 (0-for-5) on the power play while the Canucks were 0-for-2 (1-for-6). Luongo stopped 30 shots for the game.

Three stars -- (1) Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, (2) Mitchell, (3) Detroit's Dan Cleary

skater, goals-assists-points
Bieksa 1-0-1
H Sedin 1-0-1
Chouinard 0-1-1
Linden 0-1-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
Naslund 0-1-1

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 24 of 53 draws (45%). Brendan Morrison won six of 14, Ryan Kesler won seven of 15, Daniel Sedin lost both of his, Josh Green split a pair, Marc Chouinard won all four of his, and Henrik Sedin won six of 16. Markus Naslund and Matt Cooke led the team with a trio of shots apiece. Cooke also led by dishing out a whopping seven hits. Morrison coughed up the puck twice. Willie Mitchell and Alexandre Burrows blocked a pair of shots each. Naslund and Henrik Sedin missed the net with three shots apiece.

On plus-minus, the plus-skating Canucks (all plus-1) were Kevin Bieksa, Lukas Krajicek, Trevor Linden, Green, and Chouinard. Minus-1 skaters were Naslund, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin. Minus-2 skaters were Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo, Morrison, Taylor Pyatt, Cooke, and Patrick Coulombe. Mitchell, Burrows, Kesler, and Jan Bulis were even.

The Canucks' sixth loss in their last seven games sank them to 8-10-1 (3-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 17 points. The only team they lead in the Northwest Division is Colorado, and only by one point, and the Avalanche have played two less games. Other than San Jose, who has played the same amount of games, and Los Angeles, which has played one more game, every other team in the Western Conference has games in hand on Vancouver. The Canucks trail division-leading Minnesota by five points, second-place Edmonton by two points, and third-place Calgary by one point. In the West, Vancouver is ninth. Anaheim leads the conference with 30 points, Detroit thanks to this game is second with 25, Minnesota is third, San Jose has 26 trailing Anaheim in its division, Dallas has 24 also to trail Anaheim, Nashville is sixth with 21, Edmonton is seventh, and Calgary is eighth. Next on the schedule: Friday the Blues come to town.

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