Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Reuters photo -- Rebecca Cook

The Canucks had won two straight games for only the second time this season. They had a six-game homestand in which they had hoped to pad their record a bit and better their standing in the Northwest Division, but the goals became a bit less lofty when they opened the homestand by losing three of four. Wins over the Blues and Blackhawks got the team some minor confidence, however, just in time for a three-game road trip. However, they faced back-to-back games with Detroit and Nashville followed by a Saturday night in Denver. Detroit and Nashville are very good teams, and Colorado is a division rival. Vancouver is 1-5-1 against teams in their own division, something that has to be rectified for them to get anywhere. As bad as they are against the Northwest Division, the Canucks came in 7-2 against Central Division teams. In addition, these two teams were the top two in the NHL in allowing the lowest amount of shots per game. As another tidbit, the Red Wings were 9-0-1 when scoring the first goal of the game. Ryan Kesler of the Canucks is a native of nearby Livonia and rounded up 29 tickets for family and friends to watch him play.

1st period
A trend in the beginning of the season saw opposing teams score quite a few times on their first shot of the game. The Canucks got a bit of revenge here as they scored on their first shot, which was on their first shift. The puck was dumped along the end boards in the Detroit zone. Sami Salo passed behind the net to Matt Cooke, who skated along the end boards toward the right-wing corner and quickly passed to Ryan Kesler at the back of the right circle, who one-timed it past Dominik Hasek.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Ryan Kesler 3 (Matt Cooke, Alexandre Burrows) 0:18
Three minutes in, Tomas Kopecky was trying to move the puck out of the Detroit zone and absorbed a thunderous hit at the hands of Mattias Ohlund. Just past the nine-minute mark, Robert Lang got a hold of a loose puck in the left-wing corner of the Vancouver zone and tried to center it. The puck went through some skates on the way to the slot, and Roberto Luongo tried to move to cover it up, but Mathieu Schneider beat him to the puck and put it into the net.
»» 2, DETROIT, Mathieu Schneider 5 (Robert Lang) 9:24
Later on a Detroit power play, Nicklas Lidstrom shot from the left point and had the puck deflect past Luongo.
»» 3, DETROIT, powerplay, Nicklas Lidstrom 4 (Schneider, Lang) 12:05
With just over five minutes to go, Alexandre Burrows passed from the right-wing boards to Trevor Linden up high on a nice setup, but his shot was turned aside by the blocker of Hasek. About 40 seconds later, Willie Mitchell fluttered a centering pass to the slot, and Kesler spun a shot toward the net that was stopped by Hasek, and Burrows was stopped a couple times on the rebound before play ended due to a penalty call on Detroit. Shots were six apiece in the period. Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play while Detroit was 1-for-3.

2nd period
With time ticking down on a Vancouver power play just over eight minutes into the period, Sami Salo sprung Josh Green loose on a breakaway, but just as he got to full speed, Hasek came halfway up the slot to challenge him and took his legs out from under him. Marc Chouinard had a chance at the resulting loose puck, but couldn't put it through. With just over a minute remaining, Vancouver turned over the puck just outside the Detroit blue line, and the Red Wings took it the other way. Kris Draper rushed up the right side and slid a centering pass through two diving Vancouver defenders. Luongo tried to stop it with the right pad and direct it away, but Dan Cleary picked off the rebound With his momentum taking him past the goal line, Cleary stickhandled the puck and Luongo had gone down, but that left the upper half of the net open, and Cleary put the puck in over Luongo. At the time, this seemed like a killer goal for Vancouver.
»» 4, DETROIT, Daniel Cleary 6 (Kris Draper, Andreas Lilja) 19:00
Detroit badly outshot the Canucks 13-5 in the period (19-11 overall). They were 0-for-2 (1-for-5) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-1 (0-for-3).

3rd period
Detroit was trying to clear the puck from their own zone when Daniel Sedin took the puck away. He quickly centered to Henrik Sedin in the high slot, who immediately shot, but Hasek made the save. The rebound was parallel to the goal line on the left side, and Markus Naslund got to it and put it over Hasek and into the net.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 11 (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 4:50
The Red Wings dug themselves a hole and took penalties two seconds apart, leaving the Canucks nearly two minutes of a five-on-three advantage to play with. It took nearly the entire power play for the Canucks to make good. Mattias Ohlund at the left point made a nearly rink-wide pass to Brendan Morrison at the front of the right circle, who put it into a wide-open net. Hasek had lost an edge on fallen down on the play before Morrison took his shot. All told, the Canucks had come back to tie the game.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Brendan Morrison 5 (Mattias Ohlund, Kevin Bieksa) 7:22
Vancouver badly outshot Detroit 17-9 in the period (28-28 overall). They were 1-for-3 (1-for-6) on the power play while Detroit was 0-for-1 (1-for-6).

Mikael Samuelsson was skating the puck across the Vancouver blue line when Naslund tied up his stick and the puck came loose. It leaked to the left point, where Sami Salo got a hold of it, skated it across the blue line, and found Morrison past the defense. Morrison skated in alone on Hasek and put it through the five-hole for his franchise-leading ninth overtime winner.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, Morrison 6 (Sami Salo) 3:01
Shots were two apiece in the overtime (30-30 total). Neither team had a power play in the period, so both teams finished 1-for-6 on the power play. Luongo stopped 27 shots for the game.

Three stars -- (1) Kesler, (2) Detroit's Robert Lang, (3) H Sedin
(Not sure how Morrison isn't one of the stars here)

skater, goals-assists-points
Morrison 2-0-2
Kesler 1-0-1
Naslund 1-0-1
Bieksa 0-1-1
Burrows 0-1-1
Cooke 0-1-1
Ohlund 0-1-1
Salo 0-1-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 26 of 57 draws (46%). Brendan Morrison won both of his, Ryan Kesler won 11 of 17, Marc Chouinard won three of five, Henrik Sedin won three of 17 (ouch!), and Jan Bulis won seven of 14. Kevin Bieksa led the team with six shots and Kesler had four. Matt Cooke dished out three hits. Henrik Sedin notched two takeaways. Bieksa coughed up the puck twice. Lukas Krajicek blocked three shots and Mattias Ohlund and Willie Mitchell blocked a pair each. Bieksa also missed the net twice with shots.

There weren't too many dents on the plus-minus ledger for the Canucks. At plus-1 were Sami Salo, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin. At plus-2 were Ohlund and Markus Naslund. At minus-1 was Taylor Pyatt. At minus-2 was Mitchell. All other Canuck skaters were even.

Vancouver's season-long three-game winning streak propels them to a record of 11-10-1 (4-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 23 points. The days off in the Canucks' schedule have added up, so now they don't lead the conference in games played (three Pacific Division teams have played more). Vancouver is third in the Northwest Division, two back of both Edmonton and Minnesota (the Wild have really fallen from their hot start), who both have a game in hand. Calgary and Colorado are a point back, but Colorado has played the same amount of games as Vancouver and Calgary has two games in hand. Anaheim leads the Western Conference with 36 points, Nashville is second with 28, and Edmonton is third. Pacific Division non-leaders San Jose (32 points) and Dallas (30 points) are fourth and fifth, and Central Division non-leader Detroit is sixth with 27. Minnesota is seventh, Vancouver is eighth, and Calgary and Colorado are ninth and tenth. Vancouver continues their three-game mini-road trip tonight in Nashville and ends it Saturday in Colorado. That's three games in four nights.

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