Thursday, November 20, 2008

Canucks Cap Comeback Win Over Wild

The Canucks erased two one-goal deficits and wound up helping goalie Curtis Sanford collect his first win of the season as they edged out the Minnesota Wild 3-2 at the Xcel Energy Center. The win not only puts Vancouver three points clear of the Wild for top spot in the Northwest Division, but it also gave Alain Vigneault his 100th victory as the Canucks bench boss.

The game did not get off to a blistering start as both teams were scoreless through the first period and combined for no more than three quality scoring chances.

Wild captain Mikko Koivu opened the scoring on a goal Sanford would like to have back. Koivu while skating down the left wing wired a slap shot that squeeked underneath the arm of the Canucks puckstopper. Antti Miettinen and Stephane Veilleux collect the assists on Koivu's 4th of the year at 7:16.

Vancouver got the all-important equalizer with eight minutes remaining in the period. Willie Mitchell's point shot wound up being blocked in left face off circle. Kyle Wellwood poked the loose disc to Steve Bernier who chipped the puck over the shoulder of goalie Niklas Backstrom. For Bernier, who had gone eight games without a goal, tallied his 5th of the season.

The Canucks had a great chance to get into the lead while working on a power play. However Daniel Sedin's pass out of the corner went astray through the Wild zone and to a wide open Koivu who raced home on a breakaway. He made no mistake snapping home his 5th of the year at 14:22.

A short time later, the Canucks found themselves on another power play and this time they were able to convert, albeit on a lucky bounce. Pavol Demitra, playing against his former team mates fed the puck from low in the face off circle towards the crease. His pass wound up deflecting off of the stick of Marek Zidlicky and past Backstrom. Henrik Sedin and Alexander Edler get credit with the assists on Demitra's 5th at 16:10.

There were not a lot of great chances in the early part of the third period, but the deadlock would be broken at the tail end of a Canucks man advantage. Good work by Demitra low in the zone allowed the puck to get to Henrik in the right face off circle. He quickly dished it to his wide open brother who burried it home. Daniel moved into a tie with Wellwood for the club goal-scoring lead with his 8th of the season. It also proved to be his 2nd game winner of the campaign and it came at 11:41.

Minnesota applied some decent pressure in the second half of the 3rd period, but Sanford was there to shut the door and preserve the win. He wound up stopping 28 shots for his first win since December of 2007!

With his two point performance, Demitra now has points in four straight games (3g,4a). Daniel Sedin also has points in the same stretch (3g,2a). And with a +2 effort on the night, Mitchell now leads all NHL defenceman in plus minus (+14).

The Canucks wound up being out-shot 30-27 on the night. Vancouver went 1-for-4 on the power play and a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. The second goal by Koivu turned out to be the first short-handed goal allowed by the Canucks this season.

Now with an overall record of 12-6-2, the Canucks have found themselves taking points in their last eight straight games. They'll head back to the Eastern time zone on Friday morning in preparation to play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Game time for the matinee match-up against Sidney Crosby & Co. will be 11:00am PST.

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