Saturday, December 02, 2006


AP/CP photo -- Richard Lam

The good news was that Vancouver came into the game having given up the third-lowest amount of shots in the NHL. The bad news was that the Canucks came into this game with an 0-3 record against Colorado, but if they continued their offensive woes, the outcome wouldn't have anything to do with what team they were facing. Vancouver had scored three goals over their last four games, all but killing the momentum from a three-game winning streak. Josh Green took a shot off his toe last Wednesday that broke it, putting him on the shelf. As a result, Rick Rypien and Tyler Bouck were called up from Manitoba (Jesse Schultz was sent down). Matt Cooke was a scratch, still recovering from the ol' upper body injury, one he suffered last Thursday against the Ducks. Colorado was getting defenseman Jordan Leopold back from injury, he being a big piece of the Calgary trade for Alex Tanguay. Also on the shelf, though not a player, was Vancouver radio analyst Tom Larscheid, who was out with laryngitis. Turns out it's pretty hard to be a radio analyst when you have no voice. Dave Tomlinson stepped in for him.

1st period
Not even two minutes into the game, Rick Rypien (cousin of Mark Rypien) delivered a hit on Brett Clark and had to answer the bell, throwing down the gloves and scrapping with Ian Laperriere. Not even a minute later, Daniel Sedin centered a pass from behind the net to Markus Naslund, who missed the puck with his stick, but kicked it into the net with his right skate. It was ruled a goal on the ice but was disallowed upon video review (skate propelled puck rather than just redirecting). Milan Hejduk had the best Colorado chance in the period, but it wasn't a shot as he missed a wide-open net from just outside the crease. Colorado outshot the Canucks 14-6 in the period. Both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play.

2nd period
The second period started with a bit of a surprise as Peter Budaj took over in the Colorado net after it was revealed Jose Theodore was suffering from a hip injury. The Canucks killed off three minor penalties in the first half of the period before the tide turned as the Avalanche got called for penalties 68 seconds apart. On the resulting two-man advantage, not only did the Canucks fail to get off a shot, Brendan Morrison and Mattias Ohlund fell down (at different times, mind you), the summation of which triggered boos from the crowd at GM Place. Luckily, with three seconds left in the second penalty, Sami Salo fired straightaway from the blue line and had his shot stopped or blocked in front, but Daniel Sedin put in the rebound. It was Daniel's first goal in 11 games and only the third in his last 21.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Daniel Sedin 7 (Sami Salo, Lukas Krajicek) 14:32
With just under four minutes remaining, Andrew Brunette attempted a wraparound to Luongo's right that was stopped, but Joe Sakic took two extra hacks at the rebound, but was stopped both times before Luongo covered. With just over two minutes remaining, Hejduk took one hack at a bouncing puck in front of the crease and had it stopped, then shot at the rebound from the edge of the faceoff circle and was foiled again. Later on the same play, Tyler Arnason got a hold of the puck behind the net and the puck found its way again to Hejduk, who this time fired from the right hash marks, but Luongo stopped and covered the shot. Colorado outshot the Canucks 17-10 in the period (31-16 overall). They were 0-for-3 (0-for-4) on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-2 (1-for-3).

3rd period
The Canucks gave the Avalanche more than life early in the final frame. About three and a half minutes in, the Avalanche got control of a faceoff and took it the other way quickly. A three-on-two rush resulted in Joe Sakic dishing to Marek Svatos on his right. Svatos shot hard from just inside the right hash, but Luongo covered and held on for the whistle. Luongo wasn't so fortunate half a minute later. Andrew Brunette took the puck across to the right point and centered to John-Michael Liles rushing down the slot. Liles got behind Brendan Morrison and deked to the backhand to put the puck past Luongo while being hooked by Morrison and slipping into the boards.
»» 2, COLORADO, John-Michael Liles 6 (Andrew Brunette, Marek Svatos) 4:03
On a power play with about twelve and a half minutes remaining, Kevin Bieksa attempted a slap shot from the blue line and had his stick break in half, after which Ryan Kesler backhanded the errant puck wide of the net. The puck found its way to Mattias Ohlund at the right point, who drifted a few feet from the boards before throwing the puck toward the net. Taylor Pyatt deflected the puck past Budaj for the go-ahead goal.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Taylor Pyatt 9 (Mattias Ohlund, Brendan Morrison) 7:36
Just past the halfway point of the period, Sakic raced out of the penalty box and got a perfect outlet pass and a clear path to the net, but Luongo covered up the five-hole successfully. Budaj was pulled for an extra attacker as the clock wore down, but Colorado's chances were all but gone once Daniel Sedin was tripped by Sakic with 1:14 left. Colorado outshot the Canucks 10-8 in the period (41-24 total). They didn't get a power play chance and finished 0-for-4. Vancouver was 1-for-3 to finish 2-for-6. Luongo stopped 40 shots for the game.

Three stars -- (1) Luongo, (2) Colorado's Joe Sakic, (3) Pyatt

skater, goals-assists-points
Pyatt 1-0-1
D Sedin 1-0-1
Krajicek 0-1-1
Morrison 0-1-1
Ohlund 0-1-1
Salo 0-1-1

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 39 of 67 draws (58%). Brendan Morrison won 11 of 17, Rick Rypien won all four he took, Ryan Kesler won four of nine, Daniel Sedin lost both of his, Marc Chouinard won five of eight, and Henrik Sedin won 15 of 27. Taylor Pyatt led the team with four shots while Trevor Linden and Kesler had three apiece. Mattias Ohlund, Rypien, and Kesler dished out three hits each. Markus Naslund coughed up the puck twice. Ohlund and Pyatt blocked a pair of shots each. Kevin Bieksa missed the net with three shots.

Not much happened in plus-minus. The only even-strength goal scored in the game belonged to Colorado, so the Canucks have no skaters with plus ratings. The minus-skating Canucks, all at minus-1, were Ohlund, Bieksa, Morrison, Pyatt, and Kesler. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The win lifted the Canucks to a record of 13-13-1 (4-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 27 points. The night featured interesting out-of-town outcomes as Edmonton was shut out at home by Columbus, and Dallas beat Minnesota in a shootout. Thus, Vancouver is third in the Northwest Division. Edmonton leads the division, one point ahead of the Canucks, and Minnesota is in second with the same amount of points (Oilers have a game in hand). Vancouver is third, one point ahead of fourth-place Calgary and last-place Colorado (Flames have two in hand on Colorado). In the Western Conference, San Jose has played 27 games like the Canucks, and Anaheim has played 28. All other teams in the West have played less games. Anaheim leads the conference with 46 points, Nashville is second with 37, and Edmonton is third with 28. Not leading their respective divisions but having more points than the Oilers are fourth-place San Jose (40 points), fifth-place Dallas (34), and sixth-place Detroit (32). Minnesota is seventh, Vancouver is eighth, Calgary is ninth, and Colorado is tenth.

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