Friday, December 08, 2006


Reuters photo -- Andy Clark

Four nights after being embarrassed at home by the Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks would take their chances against the defending Stanley Cup champions as the Carolina Hurricanes rolled into town. The Hurricanes hadn't won a game in Vancouver since October 15, 1999. Of course, in the age of the new NHL schedule, the two teams haven't played one another since December 14, 2003. The Hurricanes had a badly ailing power play coming into the game, but the Canucks had some new injury concerns after they were down to 11 skaters during the game against Edmonton. Taylor Pyatt was lost for two to four weeks with a shoulder injury and Sami Salo sustained a nerve injury in a shoulder, shelving him for seven to ten days. In the 16 games beforehand, the Canucks had surpassed the two-goal plateau only twice. Adding a new wrinkle into the Canucks' power play was a callup from Manitoba by the name of Yannick Tremblay.

1st period
Nearly halfway through the period and halfway through a Vancouver power play, Brendan Morrison at the blue line dished to Markus Naslund near the right hash, who put a shot onto the net. Last season's Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward stopped the shot, but Jan Bulis put in the rebound for his first point in 14 games. The goal doubled as Bulis' first power play goal in a Canuck uniform.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Jan Bulis 4 (Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison) 10:50
With about eight minutes left in the period, Mattias Ohlund threw a hard check on Andrew Ladd in the Vancouver zone. With four and a half minutes remaining, Matt Cooke did some nice forechecking, plowing Anton Babchuk into the boards in the left-wing corner. Carolina outshot the Canucks 13-7 in the period. They were 0-for-2 on the power play while the Canucks were 1-for-2.

2nd period
The Canucks finally made good on their fourth power play of the period. Morrison at the right point got a loose puck and passed to Yannick Tremblay at the left point, who flung the puck toward the net. Ward made the save but left a giant rebound that Cooke missed, but Marc Chouinard put it into the back of the net. It took him 29 games, but Chouinard had his first goal as a Canuck.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Marc Chouinard 1 (Yannick Tremblay, Morrison) 17:41
Vancouver badly outshot the Hurricanes 17-6 in the period (24-19 overall). They were 1-for-4 (2-for-6) on the power play while Carolina didn't get any power play chances (0-for-2).

3rd period
On an early power play, Naslund got hold of a loose puck on the right-wing boards and passed to Morrison at the right point. Morrison passed to Tremblay behind the left circle, who one-timed a shot past Ward and through somewhat of a screen by Cooke and Chouinard. It was Tremblay's first goal as a Canuck.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Tremblay 1 (Morrison, Naslund) 5:17
John Ashbridge wasn't quite done announcing the goal inside the arena when the Hurricanes rendered the Canucks' three-goal lead a bit too comfortable. With the puck in the Vancouver zone, Willie Mitchell lost a battle on the boards for the puck with Erik Cole. The puck went to the end boards, where Kevin Bieksa lost a battle with Eric Staal. Craig Adams skated untouched from the left hash to the low slot and took a centering feed from Adams, putting it past Luongo before he and Alexandre Burrows bowled into the Vancouver goalie.
»» 4, CAROLINA, Craig Adams 5 (Eric Staal, Erik Cole) 5:56
About halfway through the period, Babchuk from behind the right circle wristed a shot on which Luongo had to make a nice save, especially since he was interfered with by Cole.
With just under four minutes remaining, the Canucks were trying to kill off a long stretch of Carolina power play time (2:59 worth) which included 61 seconds of five-on-three play, and they were 18 seconds from doing just that. Bulis cleared the puck to center ice to get a much-needed line change, but Carolina was beating the fresh penalty killers into the Vancouver zone. Justin Williams got the puck in front of the benches. Ray Whitney skated the puck across the right point and centered to Cole, who deked to the forehand and put it off the post and off Luongo's back and into the net.
»» 5, CAROLINA, powerplay, Cole 12 (Ray Whitney, Justin Williams) 15:42
The game had a whole new twist just 92 seconds later. Cole got control of the puck on the end boards with Henrik Sedin on him and he dished off to Mike Commodore on the right-wing boards. He took a stride or two toward the right hash and snapped it toward the net, and lo and behold, the shot handcuffed Luongo, going off his glove, off his back, and trickling over the goal line, tying the game.
»» 6, CAROLINA, Mike Commodore 3 (Cole, Bret Hedican) 17:14
Carolina badly outshot the Canucks 19-6 in the period (38-30 overall). They were 1-for-5 (1-for-7) on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-2 (3-for-8).

Carolina defenseman Scott Walker made what is now a cardinal sin in today's NHL as he put the puck over the glass, a delay of game. On the ensuing power play, Morrison held the puck in at the right point and passed (the puck nearly trickled over the blue line) to Tremblay at the left point. Tremblay skated away from the boards and passed to Henrik Sedin along the right-wing boards, who found his wide-open twin brother Daniel in the low slot. Daniel simply redirected the pass past the stick side of Ward and into the net.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Daniel Sedin 8 (Henrik Sedin, Tremblay) 3:02
Shots were one apiece in the period (Carolina 39-31 total). Vancouver scored on the only power play of the overtime (Carolina finished 1-for-7, Vancouver 4-for-9). Luongo stopped 36 shots for the game.

Three stars -- (1) Morrison, (2) Carolina's Erik Cole, (3) D Sedin

skater, goals-assists-points
Tremblay 1-2-3
Morrison 0-3-3
Naslund 0-2-2
Bulis 1-0-1
Chouinard 1-0-1
D Sedin 1-0-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 38 of 67 draws (57%). Brendan Morrison won 11 of 16, Trevor Linden won both of his, Ryan Kesler won 11 of 22, Marc Chouinard won three of seven, and Henrik Sedin won 11 of 18. Yannick Tremblay led the team with five shots and Daniel Sedin had four. Alexandre Burrows dished out four hits while Kevin Bieksa and Matt Cooke inflicted three. Burrows coughed up the puck twice. Willie Mitchell blocked four shots and Bieksa blocked two. Bieksa and Cooke missed the net three times each with shots.

With all the Canuck goals being scored on the power play and with some Carolina goals being five-on-five, it's all minus for the Canucks. At minus-1 were Bieksa, Burrows, Linden, Kesler, Daniel Sedin, Tremblay, Henrik Sedin, and Jan Bulis. The lone minus-2 was Mitchell. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The win lifted the Canucks to a record of 14-14-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 29 points. They are fourth in the Northwest Division, five points behind division-leading Edmonton, three back of second-place Minnesota, and they've played three less games than Calgary with the same amount of points. They have a one-point lead on last-place Colorado. The only teams in the Western Conference having played as many or more games than Vancouver are the Pacific Division teams that aren't Phoenix. All other teams in the West have games in hand on Vancouver. Anaheim is running away with the West with 50 points. Nashville is second with 39 points. Edmonton is third. Trailing in the non-Northwest divisions but having more points than Edmonton are fourth-place San Jose with 40 points, fifth-place Dallas with 38, and sixth-place Detroit with 36. Minnesota is seventh, Vancouver is eighth, Calgary is ninth, and Colorado is eighth.

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