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Canucks go Wild in Minnesota with a convincing win
After giving up an early goal to the Minnesota Wild, the Vancouver Canucks buckled down, regrouped and played a very solid, well disciplined game to extend their winning streak to three games, and a 3-4 record on this road trip. The game started out with a shock as Dany Heatley surprised Cory Schneider by beating him 13 seconds after the opening puck drop.
Vancouver - February 10, 2012 - After giving up an early goal to the Minnesota Wild, the Vancouver Canucks buckled down, regrouped and played a very solid, well disciplined game to extend their winning streak to three games, and a 3-4 record on this road trip. The game started out with a shock as Dany Heatley surprised Cory Schneider by beating him 13 seconds after the opening puck drop. Edler missed a check on the blueline allowing the Wild a 2 on 1 rush into the zone, and Schneider obviously wasn’t ready as Heatley easily slid the puck around Schneider’s right pad to put the Wild up 1-0 early. Not exactly a good start for the Canucks!
The Canucks spent the next 10 minutes getting their composure back and it payed off when Daniel Sedin scored a power play goal at 14:04, with an easy chip in over a down and out Niklas Backstrom. The Canucks were on a 5-3 man advantage and were cycling the puck with ease in the Wild zone, when Alexander Edler let loose a blast om the point which rebounded off the far post and went directly to a waiting Daniel Sedin for the easy chip shot. Moments earlier Sami Salo also had a good scoring chance from the blueline, but hit the crossbar. With the score tied at one, the Canucks were just beginning their domination of the home town Wild.
Granted the Wild were down two players during the goal, but it was obvious the Canucks game was coming back to form as they showed great patience and confidence to set up the goal, an element that seemed absent in their past two games. With 42 seconds left in the period, Maxim Lapierre put the Canucks up 2-1 when he picked up the garbage during a scramble in the crease to put the puck behind a sprawled Backstrom. After Edler blasted the puck on net from the blueline, it seemed like everybody converged on the crease to track the puck down. mike Duco and Cody Hodgson were in there banging and crashing around wreaking havoc in front of Backstrom, and Lappy was rewarded for being in the right place at the right time! It wasn’t a pretty goal, and neither is Lapierre, so I’m sure he’ll take it just the same. The Canucks ended the period with 2-1 lead.
Less than a minute into the second period, newcomer Byron Bitz again stated his case to be a regular on the top scoring line as he set up Henrik Sedin with a sweet backhand pass to beat an out of position Backstrom. That’s 1 goal and 2 assists for Bitz in the last two games, which is pretty impressive! With the Canucks up 3-1 and the second period barely started, the teams traded penalties but neither could convert. On the Wild’s power play midway through the period, they only managed two shots on Schneider, and barely outshot the Canucks in the period 9-7, totaling a mere 14 shots between the two periods, which was a change for the Canucks as their opponents were able to mercilessly pummel Luongo with rubber in their previous four games.
With the Canucks seemingly comfortable with the 3-1 lead to start the third period, Cal Clutterbuck, who by the way has the best “hockey name” to date, and Max Lapierre decide to spice up the game by dropping the gloves at center ice, but watching a chess match was more exciting than this fight! 15 seconds later though, David Booth provided a little more excitement by digging the puck out of the corner and skated in on Backstrom to beat him with a wrist shot, but not the far post. With the Wild starting to play desperate hockey in an attempt to get back into the game, they had a glorious push in the Canucks zone when defenceman Sami Salo lost his stick on a play and was forced to play with Mike Duco’s, s they essentially played like they were on a 5 on 4 as Duco was playing the “stick-less rover” position. The Wild pushed, but couldn’t beat the Canucks D, or Schneider during their extended offensive pressure in the zone.
At 7:32 Manny Malhotra put the game away when he tipped in Kevin Bieksa’s blueline shot to put the Canucks up 4-1. With Aaron Rome siting in the penalty box for holding, Wild’s Devin Setoguchi beats Schneider over the glove side with a wrist shot from the right face off dot to pull his team within two, but it was too late. Ryan Kesler extended his five game scoring streak by taking a pass from Burrows to score an empty netter with just over a minute left in the game, to make the final score 5-2.
Tonight’s game was a welcome change from the Canucks previous three nail-biters where the game was decided by a single goal in either overtime or the shootout. And especially seeing as they were down a goal very early in the game, they showed great poise by staying with their game plan and not becoming unraveled as they battled back to win the game against a divisional rival with goals to spare. Hopefully this is the corner the Canucks needed to turn in order to get their game back on track for the stretch run to the playoffs.
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