Thursday, November 30, 2006
The Canucks were coming off a 1-0 win featuring one very good Markus Naslund goal and a very good Roberto Luongo shutout performance, weathering a stand-on-head performance by Columbus goalie Pascale Leclaire as well. Their reward for doing such a thing? Two nights afterward, they would host the Anaheim Ducks, a team running away with the Western Conference and that had won three straight overall and five straight in Vancouver. Somewhere, Anaheim general manager Brian Burke is laughing. Or maybe not. The difference between nowadays and the last year Burke was in Vancouver is that the goaltending is a ton better, but rather than everyone being ticked off about all the goal-scoring talent that doesn't seem to be doing anything, now everyone's ticked off because there's no scoring, but the goal-scoring potential of the players now on the roster is way lower. Some fear the Canucks have turned into the Minnesota Wild, but I think they're turned more into the Calgary Flames, but a work-in-progress version. Josh Green would be out for a while after having suffered a broken big toe when a shot went off it in practice. For the Canuck radio telecast, Tom Larscheid was out with a bout of laryngitis, so Dave Tomlinson stepped in for radio color analysis.
About four minutes into the game on an Anaheim power play, Corey Perry broke loose behind three Vancouver defenders and walked in on Roberto Luongo, but his shot was stopped by Luongo's glove. Near the halfway mark, Teemu Selanne dropped a pass over to Sean O'Donnell near the left point. O'Donnell then found Andy McDonald near the left side of the net, and McDonald quickly put it into the back of the net past Luongo.
»» 1, ANAHEIM, Andy McDonald (Sean O'Donnell, Teemu Selanne) 9:45
O'Donnell creamed Matt Cooke into the boards with about five minutes to go. With about a minute left, a Chris Pronger slap shot from the left point was gloved through traffic by Luongo. Vancouver outshot the Ducks 11-10 in the period. They didn't get any power play opportunities, but Anaheim was 0-for-3 on such chances.
On an early Anaheim power play, a Chris Kunitz one-timer was stopped by Roberto Luongo's right elbow and apparently snuck into a soft spot or gap in the padding, causing him to fall to the ice and even necessitate a visit from the Canuck training staff. On a Vancouver power play with about six minutes to go, Henrik Sedin from the back of the right circle slap-passed to Daniel Sedin mid-slot. Daniel flung the puck toward the net and had it go off an Anaheim player, but Jean-Sebastien Giguere still had to make a great save to hold it out. Francois Beauchemin was his usual self, decking Brendan Morrison in the neutral zone without just under two minutes remaining. Anaheim badly outshot the Canucks 14-7 in the period (24-18 overall). They were 0-for-1 (0-for-4) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-1 on their first power play chance of the game.
Alexander Edler had a slap shot from the left point deflected before getting to the net. The puck bounced into the left-wing corner, where a scrum for the puck resulted in Pronger trying to clear it, but Edler held it in at the left point and immediately fired another slap shot, but this one beat Giguere through a screen.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Alexander Edler 1 (unassisted) 8:22
Twenty-three seconds after the Edler goal, Cooke took a penalty for holding the stick. This began a too-quick rash of Canuck penalties. Kevin Bieksa was called for slashing Dustin Penner's stick in half with seven seconds left in the Cooke penalty, but Vancouver killed off that seven-second two-man advantage the Ducks had. Less easy to kill off was Luongo trying to clear the puck but having it go over the glass with 61 seconds left in the Bieksa penalty. With a boatload of two-man advantage time at their disposal, the Ducks capitalized. Scott Niedermayer near the right-wing corner bided his time with the puck and snuck a rink-wide pass to Ryan Getzlaf at the back of the left circle, and Getzlaf one-timed it through to the back of the net.
»» 3, ANAHEIM, powerplay, Ryan Getzlaf 11 (Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger) 12:26
Shots were six apiece in the period (Anaheim 30-24 total). The Ducks were 1-for-3 (1-for-7) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-1 (0-for-2). Luongo stopped 28 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere, (2) Edler, (3) Anaheim's Andy McDonald
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won only 15 of 48 draws (31%). Brendan Morrison won two of 11, Ryan Kesler won three of nine, Marc Chouinard won two of 11, and Henrik Sedin won six of 14. Daniel Sedin led the team with four shots while Markus Naslund and Jesse Schultz had three apiece. Matt Cooke dealt out four hits but coughed up the puck three times. Four other Canucks gave away the puck twice each. Mattias Ohlund blocked three shots while Willie Mitchell and Kesler blocked two shots each. Naslund missed the net with five shots.
Plus-minus for this game wasn't too eventful. Plus skaters (all plus-1) were Sami Salo, Naslund, Daniel Sedin, Alexander Edler, and Henrik Sedin. Minus skaters (all minus-1) were Ohlund, Kevin Bieksa, Alexandre Burrows, Kesler, and Jan Bulis. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The loss dropped the Canucks to a record of 12-13-1 (4-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 25 points. Vancouver has played the same number of games as San Jose, and they have a game in hand on both Anaheim and Los Angeles. All other teams in the Western Conference have games in hand on Vancouver. The Canucks trail Northwest Division-leading Edmonton by three points, second-place Minnesota by two points, third-place Colorado by a single point, and they lead last-place Calgary by a single point. Anaheim leads the Western Conference with 44 points, Nashville is second with 36, and Edmonton is third with 28. Not lead their respective divisions but having more points than Edmonton are San Jose (38 points, fourth in West), Dallas (32, fifth), and Detroit (30, sixth). Minnesota is seventh, Colorado is eighth, Vancouver is ninth, and Calgary is tenth.