Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Reuters photo -- Andy Clark

After departing through free agency after the market priced him out of a Canuck uniform last summer, Ed Jovanovski made his return to GM Place as a Coyote. The Canucks were trying to rebound from a no-show in Calgary three nights before. That loss made their pathetic record against Northwest Division teams even more pathetic at 2-8-1; not so good a record in the age of the unbalanced schedule. The problem was that Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes came into Vancouver having only lost once in regulation in their previous six games. Working in the Canucks' favor was the fact that Phoenix had been a terrible road trip. Not working so much in the Canucks' favor was their all too well-known lack of scoring prowess. What in years past used to be a one-line team (Markus Naslund/Brendan Morrison/Todd Bertuzzi) is now a one-line team (Daniel Sedin/Henrik Sedin/linemate du jour). It's a whole new era in the perpetual Canuck hunt for secondary scoring. Equally disturbing is wondering if or when Naslund will get it going and start potting some more goals. Of course, everything is slightly better with the knowledge of having Roberto Luongo in your net.

1st period
On somewhat of a Vancouver rush, Brendan Morrison had the puck in the high slot and dropped it back to Matt Cooke, who took a shot that was stopped by Mikael Tellqvist. Morrison followed up on the rebound and scored. Vancouver had just scored on their fourth shot of the game. Morrison had four assists in the previous two games, but now had a goal to go with it. Cooke had gone without a point in his previous seven games.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 7 (Matt Cooke, Lukas Krajicek) 8:27
After the Canucks got a hold of a turnover in the neutral zone, Ryan Kesler took the puck over the blue line at the left point and skated toward the slot. He dished to Kevin Bieksa just a few feet to his right, and Bieksa beat Tellqvist with a shot just underneath the crossbar.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Kevin Bieksa 6 (Ryan Kesler) 11:52
It appeared there would be no Canuck scoring drought in this game as they tallied again just 59 seconds later. With the puck in the Phoenix zone, Coyote defenseman Keith Ballard had the puck stolen by Henrik Sedin, who dished to his brother Daniel Sedin just beside him. Daniel then spotted Jan Bulis in the low slot, who had a fairly open glove side and shot the puck past Tellqvist to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Jan Bulis 6 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 12:51
About a minute later, the Coyotes showed a sign of life thanks to Ballard, who threw a hip check onto Cooke. The scoring still wasn't done for Vancouver in the opening frame. An ill-fated Phoenix pass into the neutral zone was easily picked off by Henrik Sedin. Bulis got the pass from Henrik and skated hard to the high slot, shooting but being stopped by Tellqvist. The rebound went to the left corner, where Daniel passed behind the net to Bulis, who centered to Henrik in front of the net, but Tellqvist came away covering the puck on a nice flurry. The Canucks had a late power play thanks to a hook by Ballard. Ohlund had the puck at the left point and passed off. Bieksa had the puck up high before dishing to Henrik Sedin at the right-wing boards. Henrik passed to Daniel lower on the boards, who then found Ohlund sneaking into the high slot. Ohlund's quick wrist shot beat Tellqvist.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Mattias Ohlund 3 (D Sedin, H Sedin) 17:50
Vancouver outshot Phoenix 14-9 in the period. They were 1-for-1 on the power play while the Coyotes didn't get a power play chance.

2nd period
Curtis Joseph took the Phoenix net for Tellqvist to start the period. CuJo got a bit of a break early on thanks to a Coyote power play, but the break didn't last long. A loose puck behind the goal in the Phoenix zone ended up leaking toward the right point, where Bieksa snapped it on goal and it was deflected through by Bieksa.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Kesler 4 (Bieksa) 6:14
Roberto Luongo's shutout was snapped three minutes later. Ballard's shot from the left point was tipped onto the net, where a flurry erupted. Many Coyotes had a hack at it, and eventually the puck snuck into the net. It was a goal for former Seattle Thunderbird Oleg Saprykin.
»» 6, PHOENIX, Oleg Saprykin 7 (Yanic Perreault, Owen Nolan) 9:14
The Canucks got a number of decent chances on a power play late in the period. Vancouver outshot the Coyotes 13-8 in the period (27-17 overall). They were 0-for-2 (1-for-3) on the power play and Phoenix was 0-for-1.

3rd period
Tellqvist returned to the Phoenix net for the third period. Just short of five minutes in, Yanic Perreault fired a shot from the back of the left circle that Luongo gloved and held. He wasn't so lucky in the final minute -- Ed Jovanovski wrestled the puck from Tyler Bouck along the end boards in the Phoenix zone. The puck came to Mike Comrie at the back of the left circle, who made a perfect pass to Dave Scatchard at the Vancouver blue line, springing him loose on a breakaway. Scatchard put it through glove side after beating the only man back, which was Lukas Krajicek on a play in which the coverage was quite blown.
»» 7, PHOENIX, Dave Scatchard 3 (Mike Comrie, Ed Jovanovski) 19:22
Vancouver was outshot 13-4 in the period but had a 31-30 edge for the game. Neither team had a power play in the period, so Phoenix finished 0-for-1 and Vancouver finished 1-for-3. Luongo stopped 28 shots for the game.

Three stars -- (1) Bieksa, (2) Morrison, (3) Kesler

skater, goals-assists-points
Bieksa 1-1-2
Kesler 1-1-2
D Sedin 0-2-2
H Sedin 0-2-2
Bulis 1-0-1
Morrison 1-0-1
Ohlund 1-0-1
Cooke 0-1-1
Krajicek 0-1-1

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 24 of 52 draws (46%). Brendan Morrison won seven of 11, Ryan Kesler won seven of 15, Marc Chouinard won five of 12, and Henrik Sedin won five of 13. Kevin Bieksa led the team with seven shots while Mattias Ohlund, Lukas Krajicek, and Daniel Sedin had three apiece. Alexandre Burrows dished out three hits. Willie Mitchell and Kesler notched two takeaways each. Bieksa coughed up the puck twice. Mitchell blocked three shots while Bieksa and Tyler Bouck blocked a pair each. Ohlund and Markus Naslund missed the net with two shots each.

Plus-minus was a fairly wide spectrum in this one. Minus-skating Canucks were all minus-1 and they were Krajicek and Yannick Tremblay. At plus-1 were Morrison, Kesler, and Matt Cooke. At plus-2 were Burrows, Naslund, and Alexander Edler. The lone plus-4 was Bieksa. All remaining Canuck skaters were even.

The win pushed the Canucks to a record of 15-15-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 31 points and fourth place in the Northwest Division. Edmonton and Minnesota lead the division three points ahead and third-place Calgary is two points ahead. Vancouver is a point ahead of Colorado. Still, the only teams in the Western Conference to have played more games or the same amount as the Canucks are the Pacific Division teams that aren't Phoenix. Anaheim is still running away with the West with 54 points. Nashville is second with 41 and Edmonton is third with 34. San Jose is fourth with 46 (trailing Anaheim in the Pacific), Dallas is fifth with 40 (trailing Anaheim), and Detroit is sixth with 38 (trailing Nashville). Minnesota is seventh, Calgary is eighth, Vancouver is ninth, and Colorado is tenth. The Flames visit the Canucks on Thursday night.

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