Thursday, November 23, 2006


AP photo -- John Russell

One night earlier in Detroit, Brendan Morrison had his most meaningful game of the season, tying the game in the third period and winning it in overtime to cap Vancouver's comeback from a 3-1 deficit. Coach Alain Vigneault elected to start backup goalie Dany Sabourin in net against the Nashville Predators to give Roberto Luongo a night of rest. I'm hoping this was to keep Luongo fresh for Saturday night's game in Denver since Colorado is a divisional rival and everything, and Vancouver needs those games badly for the rest of the season after a 1-5-1 start in them. So far, however, the only thing other than a pretty good penalty kill that has been consistent this year for Vancouver has been the inconsistency of their play. The Canucks took their longest winning streak of the season into this game, though that streak was only three games long. As is well known, the main focus of sports television in the United States on Thanksgiving is football, not hockey. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October. I only bring this up because this game was the only game on the NHL schedule for Thursday, November 23rd. The Canucks are probably glad more people didn't have to see this one. By the way, Nashville had a history of great first periods and horrible third periods coming into this one.

1st period
On a play that quickly went end to end, Scott Nichol from the left circle passed to the rookie Alexander Radulov, who snapped it through on Dany Sabourin to finish off a quick two-on-one.
»» 1, NASHVILLE, Alexander Radulov 3 (Scott Nichol, Scott Hartnell) 2:43
Jerred Smithson passed from along the end boards to Jordin Tootoo, who tried unloading a shot from the high slot that was blocked by Josh Green. Tootoo got the puck back and skated a bit to his right and shot again, and Darcy Hordichuk deflected it past Sabourin.
»» 2, NASHVILLE, Darcy Hordichuk 1 (Jordin Tootoo, Jerred Smithson) 4:31
Nashville outshot Vancouver 9-8 in the period. Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play.

2nd period
On a Nashville power play about halfway through the period, Martin Erat up high passed to Paul Kariya along the goal line on the right side. Kariya found Scott Hartnell on the doorstep, and all he had to do was snap it through.
»» 3, NASHVILLE, powerplay, Hartnell 6 (Paul Kariya, Martin Erat) 10:09
Not long after, Marek Zidlicky stickhandled past Willie Mitchell along the right-wing boards and skated to the net, then backhanded the puck past Sabourin's glove as the latter came up empty.
»» 4, NASHVILLE, Marek Zidlicky 2 (David Legwand, Kariya) 12:20
Before anyone could recover from the Zidlicky goal, the puck got into Nashville's end quickly. Radulov passed to Shea Weber near the right point, who flung it toward the net. Hartnell deflected it top shelf. Though it was supposed to be his night off, Roberto Luongo was pulled off the bench to finish off the second period.
»» 5, NASHVILLE, Hartnell 7 (Shea Weber, Radulov) 12:37
On a late power play, Weber blasted the puck from the blue line and beat Luongo through traffic.
»» 6, NASHVILLE, powerplay, Weber 4 (Erat, Kariya) 16:20
Vancouver outshot Nashville 12-9 in the period (21-19 overall). Vancouver was 0-for-1 (0-for-3) on the power play while Nashville was 2-for-3 (2-for-5).

3rd period
Sabourin returned to finish off the game in the Vancouver net. Vancouver outshot Nashville 13-9 in the period (34-28 total). Vancouver was 0-for-1 (0-for-3) on the power play while Nashville was 0-for-3 (2-for-8). In other words, the Canucks didn't exactly help themselves trying to come back from a six-goal deficit and getting whistled for three minor penalties. Sabourin stopped 19 shots for the game while Luongo stopped three.

Three stars -- (1) Nashville's Scott Hartnell, (2) Nashville's Paul Kariya, (3) Nashville's Martin Erat

skater, goals-assists-points
none for Vancouver

In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 32 of 63 draws (51%). Brendan Morrison won six of 11, Trevor Linden split a pair, Ryan Kesler won nine of 17, Marc Chouinard won seven of 15, Henrik Sedin won eight of 12, and Jan Bulis won one of five. Kevin Bieksa led the team with seven shots. Taylor Pyatt, Linden, Kesler, and Bulis had three shots apiece. Mattias Ohlund dealt out three hits while Bieksa and Matt Cooke had two each. Lukas Krajicek and Kesler coughed up the puck twice. Josh Green blocked three shots and Sami Salo blocked a pair. Bieksa and Salo both missed the net twice with shots.

It was nothing but negatives on the plus-minus front tonight as the Canucks didn't score at all, let alone on even strength. At even were Ohlund, Bieksa, and Daniel Sedin. Alexandre Burrows was the lone minus-2. At minus-3 were Salo and Patrick Coulombe. All other Canuck skaters were minus-1 (twelve in all).

The loss left the Canucks at 11-11-1 (4-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 23 points. This game was on Thanksgiving night, so after I got back and learned about the result, I didn't exactly feel like going back and listening to it, and it turns out I was even less motivated to get a hold of the standings at the end of the night. So, I'll fill this with other content. The motive of starting Dany Sabourin in net was to give Roberto Luongo a night off. With the game completely salted away at 5-0 late in the third period, regardless of how bad Sabourin looks, why do you even bring Luongo back off the bench? What's the point of having him finish off the second period at that point? Granted, I'm glad he didn't skate out there for the third period, but if you're giving him the night off, give him the night off, for goodness' sake. The other issue of course is how horribly flat the Canucks came out the night after a thrilling win at Detroit. There's no excuse for it. They didn't have to fly across the country or anything, just from Detroit to Nashville.

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