Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Reuters photo -- Andy Clark

The Vancouver Canucks had just come off a big win at Calgary and flew right back home to face Dallas the next night. The win in Calgary was the Canucks' second in eight days and their fourth straight overall, but these games were must-wins for the Canucks, who needed the games merely to just get back into the race in the Northwest Division and not get buried. After winning these four straight against divisional opponents, however, the Canucks got a bit of a break, not having to worry about a four-point sway if they lose. The bad thing is that it was the Dallas Stars they were facing, a formidable Western Conference opponent whose goalie is Marty Turco, who has an insane lifetime record against Canadian-based NHL teams. The Stars have also been a very good shootout team, boasting a 15-1 record since its inception. Jussi Jokinen has grabbed headlines with his shootout standby, a Peter Forsberg ripoff move that has been immortalized on a postage stamp in Sweden, though Jokinen is Finnish. The Canucks came into this game with the third-best penalty kill in the NHL. Which way would this one go?

1st period
The only smidgens of excitement in a mind-numblingly boring first period of play came on a late Vancouver power play. Lukas Krajicek had a shot from the left side stopped by Marty Turco, and the rebound went to Turco's left, where Markus Naslund had a wide open net but was robbed by Turco. Later on the same power play, however, Henrik Sedin on the right-wing boards found Daniel Sedin in front, who shot but was stopped by Turco. The rebound was tapped away by a Dallas player and trickled out to the left faceoff dot, where Mattias Ohlund unloaded a slapshot that beat Turco high on the stick side.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Mattias Ohlund 8 (unassisted) 18:58
Vancouver outshot the Stars 9-7 in the first period. They were 1-for-2 on the power play while Dallas was 0-for-1.

2nd period
Five minutes into the period, Henrik Sedin on the right side found Daniel Sedin going toward the net and hit him with a pass. Daniel put a soft one-timer on the net that was gloved by Turco. Not long after, Dallas rushed into the Vancouver zone, and Patrick Stefan shot quickly from the back of the left circle and Roberto Luongo made a nice glove save with Mathias Tjarnqvist set to bowl him over trying to get a rebound. Just past the midway point of the period, a Vancouver power play was about to expire. Rory Fitzpatrick unloaded a slap shot from the blue line that was stopped by Turco. The rebound bounced through some players out to the high slot, and Brendan Morrison couldn't quite get a shot away as the puck was corraled by Stefan, who spotted Loui Eriksson breaking out of the penalty box. The stretch pass worked and Eriksson was past the entire Vancouver defense, going to the net and deking to the backhand to beat Luongo through the five hole.
»» 2, DALLAS, Loui Eriksson 4 (Patrik Stefan) 10:27
Dallas badly outshot the Canucks 17-6 in the period (24-15 overall). They were 0-for-3 (0-for-4) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-2 (1-for-4).

3rd period
With a Dallas power play about to expire, Sergei Zubov had a one-timer from the blue line stopped by Luongo eight minutes into the period. Matt Cooke also took a penalty with 62 seconds left that could have been damaging and still had the chance to do so if the Canucks wouldn't be able to kill it off in overtime. Vancouver again was badly outshot, this time by a 12-5 margin for the period (36-20 overall). The Canucks were 0-for-2 (1-for-6) on the power play while Dallas was 0-for-2 (0-for-6).

With 1:53 left in the extra session, Daniel Sedin was called for hooking, which invariably gave Dallas a huge advantage for the rest of overtime. With 32 seconds left in overtime, Philippe Boucher had a shot from near the left point ring off a post to nearly end the game. The rebound went out to Zubov, who lined himself up for a slap shot from the high slot that was stopped and cleared away. It wasn't all done yet, though. Right before the buzzer, Zubov flung a puck from the blue line that Jere Lehtinen tried to deflect onto the net, but Luongo covered it as the buzzer sounded. Dallas outshot Vancouver 4-1 in the overtime (40-21 total). They were 0-for-1 (0-for-7) on the power play while Vancouver didn't get a power play in the extra frame and finished 0-for-6. Luongo stopped 39 shots for the game.

Naslund -- NO, Turco glove save after a deke, Naslund actually overskated the puck at center at first
Zubov -- NO, skated down the middle, deked, and hit the post after the puck got past Luongo's left skate
Morrison -- YES, cut right, backhand snap through, bypassing the usual five-hole move
Jussi Jokinen -- YES, scoring on a backhand after deking Luongo silly
D Sedin -- NO, tried to go backhand but was pokechecked by Turco
Mike Ribeiro -- NO, deked, but Luongo pokechecked him
Taylor Pyatt -- NO, moved in, deked to backhand, stopped by Turco, couldn't quite get a good shot away
Eriksson -- NO, stopped by Luongo, didn't get a decent shot off
Bieksa -- NO, Turco knocked down the shot
Antti Miettinen -- NO, skated up the middle, went forehand to backhand, Luongo stopped him but nearly threw his stick in the process
Ryan Kesler -- YES, shaded left, kicked the leg, deked to the backhand and scored stick side
Stu Barnes -- NO, forehand was stopped by the pads of Luongo

Three stars -- (1) Luongo, (2) Dallas' Marty Turco, (3) D Sedin

Ohlund 1-0-1

In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 30 of 53 draws (57%). Brendan Morrison won eight of 17, Trevor Linden won two of three, Ryan Kesler won eight of 15, Marc Chouinard won all five of his, and Henrik Sedin won seven of 11. Daniel Sedin led the team with four shots while Mattias Ohlund and Henrik Sedin had three apiece. Kesler, Rory Fitzpatrick, and Matt Cooke dished out three hits apiece. Ohlund and Lukas Krajicek coughed up the puck twice each. Ohlund led with three blocked shots while Sami Salo and Cooke blocked a pair apiece. Kesler missed the net with four shots while Kevin Bieksa and Daniel Sedin missed with three each.

The Canucks' only goal was scored on the power play, so there's no plus on the plus-minus ledger. Thus, that leaves everyone who was on the ice when Loui Eriksson busted out of the penalty box and scored. Those Canucks were Krajicek, Morrison, Willie Mitchell, Markus Naslund, and Jan Bulis. All remaining Canuck skaters were even.

Vancouver's fifth straight win pushed their overall record to 22-18-1 (6-0 overtime, 2-1 shootout), good for 45 points and the Northwest Division lead. The two points vaulted them to a one-point lead over the second-place Minnesota Wild. Third-place Calgary is three points back, and Colorado and Edmonton are tied for fourth (Colorado has the head-to-head). Anaheim still leads the Western Conference with 62 points, Detroit is second with 55 and Vancouver is third. Nashville is fourth with 55 (second in the Central, Detroit has a game in hand), San Jose is fifth with 52 (second in the Pacific), Dallas is sixth with 51 (third in the Pacific), Minnesota is seventh, Calgary is eighth, Colorado is ninth, Edmonton is tenth, and Chicago is 11th with 39 points.

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