Thursday, December 14, 2006
It's become apparent to anyone following the Canucks that if they're to make any hay in the Western Conference standings, they'd have to improve upon their brutal record against Northwest Division opponents. That record coming into this game was a brutal 2-8-1. The good news for the Canucks was that although the Calgary Flames had beaten them in the teams' previous two meetings, the Flames carried a four-game road losing streak to Vancouver with them. Jarome Iginla, whom Matt Cooke found out the hard way earlier in the season is a player could be awoken with a jarring hit, took a six-game goal streak into this game. Offensively, the Canucks had been more offensive in a good way in recent outings, scoring 12 goals in the previous three games, a huge surge compared to the five goals in six games that came beforehand.
With just over four minutes remaining, Jan Bulis from the back of the right circle backhanded a centering pass into the slot and Daniel Sedin skated in and deflected it toward the net, but Miikka Kiprusoff was able to make the clutch save. Vancouver outshot Calgary 5-4 in the period. Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play.
Chuck Kobasew of the Flames took a holding penalty in the final minute of the first period, and the resulting Vancouver power play carried into the second period. Jeff Friesen got the puck deep in his own zone and spotted Matthew Lombardi darting across center ice and sprung him loose on a breakaway. Lombardi easily got past Markus Naslund (the only man back), chasing down the puck along the right-wing boards and taking it to the goal line, waiting out Roberto Luongo before putting it in over the paddle.
»» 1, CALGARY, shorthanded, Matthew Lombardi 10 (Jeff Friesen, Andrew Ference) 1:09
The Canucks responded shortly thereafter. Ryan Kesler threw a check on Brad Ference behind the Calgary net that freed up the puck for Naslund in the right-wing corner. With some traffic in front of the net, Naslund centered to Mattias Ohlund in the slot, who snapped the puck past Kiprusoff to tie the game.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Mattias Ohlund 4 (Markus Naslund, Ryan Kesler) 2:53
A few minutes later, Calgary turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Bulis and Cooke raced the other way on a two-on-one. Dion Phaneuf was the Flame that was back who was trying to wrestle the puck away from Bulis, and he was tired after a long shift. The puck came loose, but right to Cooke, whose backhand shot was stopped by Kiprusoff's left pad. Six minutes in, Andrei Zyuzin at the blue line flung the puck toward the net and it deflected through to Luongo, who stopped it, as well as the rebound shot from the right circle off the stick of Lombardi, who also had a shot from mid-slot about five seconds later that met the same fate. About two minutes later, Kristian Huselius shot the puck into the benches from in front of the Vancouver bench and was subsequently hit by Tyler Bouck, drawing some words. Late in the period, Jamie Lundmark and Huselius dodged a possible offside call and raced into the Vancouver zone on a two-on-one with Bulis as the lone Canuck. Lundmark on the right side ripped a shot well wide of the net. The puck found itself going the other way quickly with a couple guys whose last name is Sedin. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin had a two-on-one against Zyuzin. Daniel raced down the right side and waited until the last possible second to dish off to Henrik, who tapped the puck past the stick side on Kiprusoff.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Henrik Sedin 4 (Daniel Sedin) 17:31
As the goal was being announced in the arena, Tony Amonte on the right side centered the puck and Phaneuf tipped it onto the goal, but Luongo stopped and covered it. Calgary outshot Vancouver 12-6 in the period (16-11 overall). The Flames were 0-for-4 (0-for-6) on the power play while Vancouver didn't have any power play chances.
Near the midway point of the final period, the Canucks found themselves taking the puck out of their own zone with a four-on-two. Cooke along the left-wing boards centered to Brendan Morrison in the high slot, who uncharacteristically uncorked a slapshot that beat Kiprusoff for what ended up being the final tally.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 8 (Matt Cooke, Willie Mitchell) 8:40
Luongo's final test came with about three minutes left, when he put the blocker on a Phaneuf slapshot from up high. Vancouver badly outshot the Flames 16-6 in the period (27-22 total). They were 0-for-5 (0-for-7) on the power play while Calgary was 0-for-2 (0-for-8). Luongo stopped 21 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Cooke, (2) Mitchell, (3) Calgary's Dion Phaneuf
H Sedin 1-0-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 37 of 60 draws (62%). Brendan Morrison won 11 of 19, Trevor Linden won all three of his, Ryan Kesler won eight of 17, Marc Chouinard won five of seven, and Henrik Sedin won ten of 14. Kevin Bieksa led the team with eight shots and Daniel Sedin had five. Matt Cooke dished out three hits while four other Canucks had two. Kesler notched two takeaways. Markus Naslund and Jan Bulis coughed up the puck twice each. Willie Mitchell blocked five shots while Kesler and Yannick Tremblay blocked three shots apiece. Mattias Ohlund, Bieksa, and Naslund each missed the net three times with shots.
On a night when the only goal the Canucks gave up was shorthanded, there would be no minusness. At plus-1 were Bieksa, Alexandre Burrows, Kesler, Naslund, Cooke, and Bulis. At plus-2 were Ohlund and Rory Fitzpatrick. All remaining Canuck skaters were even.
The win pushed the Canucks to a record of 16-15-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 33 points and foutrh place in the Northwest Division. They are three points behind first-place Edmonton, one behind second-place Minnesota, and they have the same amount of points as Calgary, but have played three more games. They lead last-place Colorado by one point. In the Western Conference, other than Pacific Division teams not from Phoenix, all teams have played less games than Vancouver. Anaheim is still way ahead in the West with 56 points, Nashville is second with 43, and Edmonton is third. San Jose is fourth with 46 (second in the Pacific), Detroit is fifth with 40 (second in the Central), Dallas is sixth with 40 (third in the Pacific, they've played two more games than Detroit), Minnesota is seventh, Calgary is eighth, Vancouver is ninth, and Colorado is tenth.