Friday, November 17, 2006
Some said this game was a must-win for Vancouver, and that's a fair assessment. It was the fifth game of a six-game homestand, which isn't much of a big deal. In the homestand, however, the Canucks opened with a win against Dallas, then dropped the next three, aganst Anaheim, Calgary, and Detroit, respectively. A win against the Blues would give the Canucks their only chance to salvage a .500 homestand. After the Canucks got through their early hellacious road-dominated schedule with a .500 record, the consensus was that they'd use this six-game homestand to pad their record. Sadly, that hasn't been the case. Last season, the Canucks started 13-1 on home ice but went 12-9-6 the rest of the way, so you could say they really haven't had a true home-ice advantage since. They haven't based on results.
About nine minutes into the game, Jeff Woywitka battled for the puck in the left-wing corner and passed to Doug Weight at the left point. Weight passed to Woywitka along the left-wing boards and dodged Markus Naslund, who played the pass. Naslund never got a body on Weight, and worse yet, he didn't pursue Weight, who skated all the way to the net untouched. Woywitka hit him with a pass at the doorstep which he easily backhanded over Roberto Luongo to finish off a nicely executed give-and-go. Amazingly, it took this long into the season for Weight to score a goal.
»» 1, SAINT LOUIS, Doug Weight 1 (Jeff Woywitka, Lee Stempniak) 8:57
Just as a Vancouver power play had expired, Matt Cooke was setting up behind the Saint Louis net and found Brendan Morrison along the goal line on the left side, where his forehand shot beat Jason Bacashihua inside the far post from a pretty sharp angle.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 4 (Matt Cooke, Mattias Ohlund) 14:49
With about four minutes left in the period, Lee Stempniak found Radek Dvorak crashing the net and centered the puck. Luongo stopped it and tried to play it but Dvorak physically crashed into him though the puck ultimately stayed out of the net. Vancouver outshot the Blues 13-6 in the period. They were 0-for-3 on the power play while Saint Louis was 0-for-2.
Henrik Sedin moved the puck into the Saint Louis zone near the left point and waited as Naslund skated to the net. Henrik centered the puck and it got through to Bacashihua, who stopped it, but Naslund was right there on the rebound and found the top corner over the glove side of Bacashihua.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 8 (Henrik Sedin, Ohlund) 6:17
With about two and a half minutes left, Morrison put another sharp-angle shot on the net, this time from the right side. The puck flung high into the air and came down to Bacashihua's left as three Canucks flew to the crease and tried to jab it through, but did so to no avail as Bacashihua eventually covered it. Seconds later, Henrik Sedin had the puck behind the net and struggled to get it through to Naslund, but did. Naslund skated slowly inside the right hash before wristing the puck through some traffic and past Bacashihua. This held up to be Naslund's first game-winning goal since October 25th of last season. This game was also his first multigoal game since December 23rd of last season. This also marked the first time in nine games the Canucks had scored more than two goals in a game.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Naslund 9 (H Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 18:00
Vancouver badly outshot the Blues 14-7 (27-13 overall). They didn't get a power play while Saint Louis was 0-for-1 (0-for-3).
About seven minutes in, Bryce Salvador's slap shot from up high on the left side was stopped by Luongo. Kevin Bieksa went to the box for hooking, and with about seven and a half minutes left, Weight flung a centering pass from the left point that was deflected past Luongo a few feet from the net by Keith Tkachuk.
»» 5, SAINT LOUIS, powerplay, Keith Tkachuk 6 (Weight, Martin Rucinsky) 12:34
With the clock ticking near the final minute, the Blues had the puck in the Vancouver zone and were about to send Bacashihua to the bench for an extra attacker. Alexandre Burrows got control of the puck, however, and Bacashihua raced back to the net. Burrows passed to Ryan Kesler, who had one defender back for him, but he skated inside the left hash toward the net and backhanded it over Bacashihua.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, Ryan Kesler 2 (Alexandre Burrows) 18:59
Vancouver badly outshot the Blues 17-8 (44-21 total). They were 0-for-1 (0-for-4) on the power play while Saint Louis was 1-for-1 (1-for-4). Luongo stopped 19 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Naslund, (2) Kesler, (3) Saint Louis' Doug Weight
H Sedin 0-2-2
D Sedin 0-1-1
In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 29 of 64 draws (45%). Brendan Morrison won four of eight, Ryan Kesler won seven of 17, Matt Cooke won his only two, Josh Green lost his only two, Marc Chouinard won four of eight, Henrik Sedin won nine of 19, and Jan Bulis won three of five. Markus Naslund led the team with eight shots, Daniel Sedin had six, and Kesler and Henrik Sedin each had five shots. Alexandre Burrows, Trevor Linden, Kesler, Cooke, and Bulis dished out two hits each. Kesler also notched two takeaways. Naslund had two giveaways. Willie Mitchell blocked a pair of shots. Daniel Sedin missed the net with four shots.
In plus-minus, Vancouver had only one minus skater, and he was Kevin Bieksa. The Canucks had a plus-3 skater, and that was Sami Salo. At even were Linden, Green, and Chouinard. All other Canuck skaters (thirteen of them) were plus-1.
The offensive onslaught (relatively speaking) lifted the Canucks to a record of 9-10-1 (3-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 19 points and fourth place in the Northwest Division. In the Western Conference, only Los Angeles has played more games than Vancouver, and the Sharks and Ducks have played the same amount of games. All other West teams have games in hand on the Canucks. Vancouver is five points back of Northwest-leading Minnesota, two back of Edmonton, one behind Calgary, and one ahead of Colorado. Anaheim leads the West with 31 points, Detroit is second with 25, Minnesota is third with 24, San Jose and Dallas trail the Ducks in their division with 28 and 26 points, Nashville is sixth with 24, followed by Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver in seventh, eighth, and ninth. The homestand ends Sunday with a match against the Blackhawks, who are coming off a shootout win in Anaheim.