Saturday, November 25, 2006


AP photo -- David Zalubowski

After crapping the bed in Nashville on Thanksgiving night (USA), the Canucks traveled to Denver to try to improve on their pathetic 1-5-1 division record. A Colorado regulation win would vault the Avalanche over the Canucks in the Northwest Division standings. For Colorado, Milan Hejduk was out with the flu, but Wojtek Wolski was back in the lineup one game after Joel Quenneville had him sit in the press box. For the Canucks, Daniel Sedin was out with a slight abdominal strain. As a result, Taylor Pyatt was moved to take his place on the line with Henrik Sedin and Markus Naslund. Also in the news for Vancouver, young defenseman Patrick Coulombe was sent back to Manitoba and other young defenseman Alexander Edler was called back up from Manitoba for another stint with the big club. On a uniform note, Colorado was wearing their maroon third jerseys, featuring the word "COLORADO" diagonally across the front, a la the New York Rangers. Though not completely original, the Avalanche thirds are one of the more tasteful third jerseys in the NHL.

1st period
About nine minutes in, Brad Richardson came out from behind the net and put a backhander on the net from the left (short) side, but Roberto Luongo was able to stop and cover it. Not long after, a Kevin Bieksa shot from the right point was easily blocked and quickly turned the other way as Bieksa was caught up the ice. Wojtek Wolski and Mark Rycroft ran a two-on-one, and Wolski faked a shot coming down the left side before passing across the slot to Mark Rycroft, whose shot went off a skate and beat Luongo as the latter was committing to a Wolski shot.
»» 1, COLORADO, Mark Rycroft 2 (Wojtek Wolski, Paul Stastny) 11:25
Late in the period, Wolski had the puck behind the net and waited for something to materialize. He found Paul Stastny in the low slot and fed him for an easy goal.
»» 2, COLORADO, Stastny 5 (Wolski, Cody McCormick) 17:45
Shots were 13 apiece in the period. Vancouver didn't get a power play while Colorado was 0-for-2.

2nd period
On a Vancouver power play about seven minutes in, Henrik Sedin from the right-wing boards nicely passed to Markus Naslund, who skated from the right faceoff dot toward the net and shot to the net, but he was stopped by Jose Theodore, as was Taylor Pyatt on the rebound. About a minute later, Ian Laperriere was chasing the puck down in the Vancouver zone and got to it along the right-wing boards. Laperriere stopped in his tracks to pass it off, and Mattias Ohlund upended him immediately after with a big hit. Shots were nine apiece in the period (22-22 overall). Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play while Colorado was 0-for-1 (0-for-3).

3rd period
Almost right out of the dressing room, the Canucks tallied to get them back into the game. Markus Naslund along the end boards passed to Kevin Bieksa near the right point, who one-timed it through some traffic and past Theodore.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Kevin Bieksa 4 (Markus Naslund, Henrik Sedin) 0:35
A minute and a half into the period, a turnover in the Vancouver zone resulted in a quick shot from the left hash by Wolski that was stopped by Luongo. Seconds later, Stastny on the right side found Wolski in front of the net and passed to him, but Wolski was stopped by Luongo. Just short of seven and a half minutes in, the Avalanche sealed it as a Patrice Brisebois slap shot from the blue line was deflected past Luongo by Wolski.
»» 4, COLORADO, powerplay, Wolski 6 (Patrice Brisebois, Stastny) 7:29
The Canucks committed four minor penalties in the period to hamper their comeback chances, including two late penalties to set up a two-man advantage for Colorado. Inside the final minute, the five-on-three had just changed to five-on-four when Wolski behind the net passed to Brett Clark at the right circle, who one-timed it past Luongo for the inconsequential final goal.
»» 5, COLORADO, powerplay, Brett Clark 1 (Wolski, John-Michael Liles) 19:25
Colorado outshot Vancouver 17-7 in the period (39-29 total). They were 2-for-4 (2-for-7) while Vancouver was too busy being penalized to get a power play and therefore finished 0-for-2. Luongo stopped 35 shots for the game.

Three stars -- (1) Colorado's Wojtek Wolski, (2) Colorado's Jose Theodore, (3) Colorado's Paul Stastny

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

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 24 of 52 draws (46%). Brendan Morrison won three of 11, Ryan Kesler won two of eight, Josh Green lost all three of his, Marc Chouinard won five of eight, and Henrik Sedin won 14 of 18. Kesler led the team with five shots, Alexandre Burrows had four, and Mattias Ohlund and Markus Naslund both had three. Ohlund dished out four hits. Green notched three takeaways while Burrows and Matt Cooke got a pair each. Lukas Krajicek, Morrison, and Naslund each coughed up the puck twice. Ohlund, Kevin Bieksa, Krajicek, Sami Salo, and Burrows blocked two shots each. Krajicek and Chouinard both missed the net twice with shots.

Not much plusness on the plus-minus ledger for this one. Morrison, Naslund, and Henrik Sedin were plus-1. At minus-1 were Krajicek and Willie Mitchell. At minus-2 were Burrows, Kesler, and Cooke. All other Canuck skaters were even.

In addition to making their division record a pathetic 1-6-1, the loss dropped the Canucks to a record of 11-12-1 (4-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 23 points. In the Western Conference, Vancouver has a game in hand on Los Angeles and has played the same number of games as Anaheim and San Jose. All other teams in the West have games in hand on Vancouver. Edmonton leads the Northwest Division, four points ahead of Vancouver. Minnesota is four up as well but is in second by virtue of having played one more game than Edmonton. Colorado leapfrogged the Canucks with this game and lie in third place, one point ahead of Vancouver. Calgary is fifth, one point back with three games in hand. Anaheim leads the West with 38 points, Nashville is second with 32, and Edmonton is third. Having more points than Edmonton yet not leading their respective divisions are fourth-place San Jose with 34 points, fifth-place Dallas with 32, and sixth-place Detroit with 28. Minnesota is seventh, Colorado is eighth, Vancouver is ninth, and Calgary is tenth. The Canucks return home for eight of the next nine games before a stretch of six out of seven games on the road.

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