Thursday, November 20, 2008

Canucks Suck the Life Out of MSG

On the grandest stage in the National Hockey League Wednesday night, the Vancouver Canucks found themselves in a situation most teams haven’t in recent years: holding a 5-1 lead at the midway point of the game on route to a 6-3 win over the home town and Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers.

It didn’t take long for the Madison Square Garden faithful to have their collective yaps shut as the Canucks built up a 2-0 lead after the opening period. Kyle Wellwood opened the scoring with a breakaway finish that gave Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist no chance. Mattias Ohlund and Taylor Pyatt collect the assists on Wellwood’s team-leading 8th of the year at 4:16.

Before the midway point of the frame, the home team was dealt a huge blow as Alex Burrows netted a breakaway while short-handed. Jannik Hansen gets the lone helper on the 2nd SHG of the year for Burrows. It was also his 5th of the season at 9:38.

The Canucks did not take their foot off the gas pedal into the 2nd period and were rewarded for their efforts early on. Hansen forced a turnover low in the New York zone and found Burrows in front of the net. He made no mistake for his 2nd of the game and 6th of the year at 1:23.

Less than a minute later, the Canucks made it a 4-0 contest. Ohlund worked the puck down low in the Rangers zone for Pyatt. He immediately found Ryan Johnson alone in the slot and he snapped his chance behind Lundqvist. For Johnson, it proved to not only be his 1st in a Canucks jersey but also the game winner at 2:21. Johnson now becomes the 10th Canucks skater to score a goal that lifted Vancouver to a win this season.

The Rangers were able to break the shut-out bid of Roberto Luongo while going to work on a power play a few shifts later. Wade Redden fed a nice pass up the middle to Chris Drury who split the Canucks defence. His move past the Canucks captain allowed him to slide home his 8th of the year. Lundqvist got credit for the other assist at 3:12.

A few minutes after the home team scored, the Rangers found themselves in penalty trouble with two players in the box. The Canucks looked to have scored on the 5-on-3 as Daniel Sedin’s goal-mouth scramble chance squeeked across the line. Despite replays that looked to show the puck having crossed the line, the off-ice reviewing officials deemed the puck did not fully enter the net.

However the Canucks did eventually capitalize with the 5-on-3 chance. Pavol Demitra’s shot from the right face off circle rattled off the post and in. Henrik Sedin and Sami Salo chip in the assists on Demitra’s 4th of the year. Now with two goals and three assists in his last three games, Demitra’s insurance marker came at 5:33. That would prove to be the last goal allowed by Lundqvist, who looked to have pulled himself from the game after allowing five goals on 17 shots. He wound up being replaced by Stephen Valiquette, who didn’t allow another goal against on 15 Vancouver shots.

Exactly three minutes after the visitors made it 5-1, the Rangers netted their second goal of the game. In a scramble around the Canucks crease, Aaron Voros jabbed the puck underneath Luongo. Despite lying on his back and freezing himself, the puck got past the Canucks goalie and across the line. Nigel Dawes and Dmitri Kalinin get credit for the helpers on the 7th of the year for Voros at 8:33.

New York really poured on the pressure in the third period, one that saw them out-shoot Vancouver 17-5. However the only goal the were able to tally came on a power play. Former Canucks captain Markus Naslund fed a nice pass to a wide open Ryan Callahan, who made no mistake drilling home his 6th of the year. Drury gets the other assist at 7:45.

Despite getting Valiquette to the bench for the extra attacker late in the game, the Rangers weren’t able to pull any closer. In fact, with the net empty, the Canucks scored one more for good measure as Daniel Sedin re-directed a shot off the stick of Ohlund. Ryan Kesler gets the other assist on Daniel’s 7th of the year with three seconds left on the clock. Ohlund finished the night with three assists and a +4 rating.

Final shots on net did favour the Rangers by a margin of 42-33. The Canucks wound up going 1-for-4 on the power play while New York went 2-for-6.

Now with a record of 11-6-2, the Canucks prepare for a quick turnaround as they get set to take on the Wild in Minnesota Thursday night. Game time is 5:00pm PST.

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