Tuesday, November 28, 2006
A three-game mini-road trip saw the Canucks score a gaudy (for them) four goals in Detroit to pull out an overtime win, but then followed that by scoring one goal total in the final two games, which is bad in itself, but the Canucks also gave up a ton of goals, losing 6-0 in Nashville on Thanksgiving (stateside) night, then losing 4-1 in Colorado. The latter loss ran the Canucks' pathetic record against Northwest Division teams to 1-6-1, something that undoubtedly would have to change for Vancouver to even hope about making the playoffs. To compound that mess, Roberto Luongo has zero career wins against Colorado. Points are ever more precious considering how tightly packed the Northwest Division teams are in the standings. However, this game was against Columbus, not long after the Blue Jackets had hired Ken Hitchcock as their new coach. Jesse Schultz was called up to the big club from Manitoba before the game. Pregame ceremonies saw the BC Lions honored for winning the Grey Cup two days beforehand.
With just over six minutes to go, a Mattias Ohlund shot from the high slot was stopped by the chest of Pascale Leclaire, who didn't immediately find it, but covered it up once he did. Inside the final minute, Matt Cooke bounced a centering pass from the left-wing boards to Trevor Linden skating down the slot, who was stopped in close by Leclaire. The rebound went to Cooke at the left hash, who had a wide open net but shot to the blue paint, where Leclaire dove back to cover it up. Vancouver badly outshot Columbus 14-6 in the period. They were 0-for-3 on the power play while Columbus was 0-for-4.
Lukas Krajicek passed up the right side from his own end boards to Jesse Schultz near center, who was creamed into the boards by Ole-Kristian Tollefson. Henrik Sedin had the puck in the neutral zone and centered to Markus Naslund near the red line. Naslund skated across the Columbus blue line with the puck, split two defenders, deked from the forehand to the backhand, and went top shelf to beat Leclaire for a badly needed Vancouver goal.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 12 (Henrik Sedin, Kevin Bieksa) 8:49
With just over five and a half minutes to go, Nikolai Zherdev passed from the left hash across to Alexander Svitov, whose shot close was nicely gloved by Luongo. Seconds later, Rick Nash centered from behind the net to Sergei Fedorov mid-slot. Fedorov snapped it through an Anson Carter screen and to the net, where the puck was whistled dead, although it wasn't covered. Video review revealed the puck didn't completely go across the goal line, and it was swept off the goal line by Luongo's blocker. Why play was whistled dead was a mystery. With just over three minutes to go, NHL newbie Jesse Schultz got through on a rush and had a shot stopped. Brendan Morrison skated past the rebound, but Taylor Pyatt had the best chance to get to it, but it bounced past his stick. Cooke took a monster hit from Rostislav Klesla just before the horn to end the period. Vancouver was outshot 10-9 in the period but led 23-16 overall. They were 0-for-2 (0-for-5) on the power play, but so was Columbus (0-for-6).
The Canucks killed three Columbus power plays in the period, including some six-on-four late when Columbus pulled Leclaire from the net. Vancouver outshot Columbus 10-8 (33-24 total). They were 0-for-1 (0-for-6) on the power play while Columbus was 0-for-2 (0-for-8). Luongo stopped all 24 shots he faced in the game.
Three stars -- (1) Luongo, (2) Columbus' Pascale Leclaire, (3) Naslund
H Sedin 0-1-1
There have been many games this year where it seems like every goaltender the Canucks face ends up looking like Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur. This wasn't an exception, but Pascale Leclaire was simply on fire in the Columbus net.
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 22 of 56 (39%) draws. Brendan Morrison won eight of 12, Ryan Kesler won four of 20 (mega-ouch), Josh Green won three of five, and Henrik Sedin won seven of 18. Markus Naslund led the team with five shots, and Lukas Krajicek and Sami Salo had four apiece. Mattias Ohlund shelled out five hits, though he also coughed up the puck twice. Salo blocked four shots and Willie Mitchell blocked a pair.
Since only one goal was scored in the game, the plus-minus is pretty simple. Vancouver had no minus players. The plus players were the ones on the ice for the goal, and they were Ohlund, Kevin Bieksa, Naslund, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The win pushed the Canucks to a record of 12-12-1 (4-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 25 points. San Jose has played 25 games as well as the Canucks, and Los Angeles and Anaheim have played 26. All other teams in the Western Conference have games in hand on Vancouver. Edmonton leads the Northwest Division, three points ahead of Vancouver. Minnesota is in second place, one point ahead. Vancouver is in third with Calgary and Colorado both a point back in fourth and fifth with Colorado having one more regulation loss. Anaheim leads the conference with 42 points, Nashville is second with 32, and Edmonton is third with 28. San Jose (36 points), Dallas (32), and Detroit (30) all trail in their respective divisions despite having more points than Edmonton and are therefore fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively. Minnesota is seventh, Vancouver is eighth, Calgary is ninth, and Colorado is tenth. Vancouver continues a five-game homestand against Anaheim on Thursday night.