The Vancouver Canucks said 'adieu' to GM Place on a high note Wednesday, grabbing their sixth straight win, amidst a controversial slashing call.
Roberto Luongo bails out Alexander Edler after he coughed up the puck to Blues' leading goal-scorer, Andy McDonald (16 goals)
With an unparalleled 14 game road trip on the horizon, the Canucks did themselves a solid, leaving GM Place (the Garage) behind for 45 days on winning terms. The win vaulted the hot hockey club into sole possession of 1st place in the Northwest division, leap-frogging the Colorado Avalanche. The Canucks played catch-up after Keith Tkachuk shelfed a nice cross crease pass over Roberto Luongo's trapper. Mason Raymond, the game's first star, put the Canucks ahead with his second of the night, fooling Conklin with a fake slapshot, before beating him stick side. The 2nd line combined for 7 points, with Raymond adding an assist on Christian Ehrhoff's game-winner with 7:48 remaining in the third period. Ryan Kesler, who was named the game's third star, had a fantastic night as well, with three assists, and was 9 for 13 (69%) in the faceoff circle.
Ryan Kesler gives the NHL's 4th most penalized player, B.J. Crombeen (117 PIMS), a close shave
The controversy ensued after the Blues' Paul Kariya whacked at Henrik Sedin, who was starting out of the Canucks zone with the puck. The near-side official didn't make a call, but the back-side official raised his arm. The slash hit Henrik on the left glove, forcing his hand off his stick, and loss of puck control. In most cases, where a trip or a slash would result in an offensive chance for the guilty party, the call is made. That was the case here, and the Canucks, who are 4th in the NHL with a 22% power play efficiency, capitalized. "Whether we agree with them or not is irrelevant," said Blues goalie Ty Conklin in reference to the official's call. "You've still got to kill them off." Conklin finished with 31 saves.
Despite Alex Burrows' screen, he and the twins' were held off the scoresheet for the first time in 13 games
T.J. Oshie tied the game midway through the third period, chipping a pass from David Backes high over Luongo's blocker. The Sedin line, who earned a combined 30 points over the last 5 games, were held pointless, but the 2nd line helped negate that. "That's part of winning consistently. You need secondary scoring to chip in," said coach Alain Vigneault. "We put a lot of emphasis on making sure we continued the streak we were on and we ended the homestand properly." The 'Nucks begin their well-documented road trip starting in Toronto against the Maple Leafs Saturday, for Hockey Day in Canada.
Notes: Not that Mike Gillis has the time to read this, but concerning the rumors surrounding trading David Backes for Cory Schneider - please don't do that. Backes has 1 goal in 16 games, and would really only be removing an opportunity for any number of other Canucks waiting for their chance. Schneider might not play for us for awhile, but his value certainly outweighs any short-term stopgap.
Who wants to play: Who doesn't belong? A) Rick Rypien B- Darcy Hordichuk C) Erik Johnson D) B.J. Crombeen (answer at bottom of page)
Here are the game highlights, courtesy of Pouya from CanucksHD: Canucks vs Blues - game highlights (just click)
Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / Canadian Press, Yahoo Sports and CanucksHD (youtube)
Catch the Canucks road trip at http://thecanuckway.com
Answer to Who doesn't belong question: C) Erik Johnson, the defenseman who has more points than the other 3 forwards combined...