Monday, November 3, 2008

Tough Night on PP/PK Lead to Loss vs Wings

If one lesson was learned by the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night, it was that they have to play near, if not, 100% mistake-free hockey to beat a team that is in the upper tiers of the NHL. The Canucks were burnt numerous times by the Detroit Red Wings while skating short-handed and wound up falling 3-2 at GM Place.

Every goal scored by the defending Stanley Cup Champs came when they had a power play. However every goal that was scored came as a result of unsuccessful clearing attempts by the Canucks defence while in their own zone. Sami Salo coughed up a puck that led to the opening marker by Mikael Samuelsson in the 2nd period. Mattias Ohlund's failed clearing attempt in the middle frame saw Brian Rafalski convert on a point shot. Then late in the 2nd, while down 5-on-3, Kevin Bieksa's opportunity to clear the zone was foiled and eventually resulted in the evenutal game winner courtesy of Henrik Zetterberg.

A team like the Red Wings, who came into the game sporting the #1 power play in the league, will more often than not capitalize on mistakes made by teams in their own zone. This was very evident Sunday and the Canucks should be thankful they were only short-handed four times in the game.

At the other end of the rink, the Canucks failed to convert on any of their seven man advantages. They may have deserved a bit of a better fate on the scoreboard through based on how they played 5-on-5, especially in the third period. Henrik Sedin got the Canucks their only goal in the opening 40 minutes after taking a beautiful pass from the end boards courtesy of Daniel Sedin. Then in the final stanza, just as a power play expired, Kyle Wellwood drilled home a shot after the puck had bounced off the end boards.

After that, it was the Chris Osgood show. The Wings #1 netminder stoned the Canucks who put on plenty of pressure in a period that saw them out-shoot the visitors 13-3. The best chances came to Alexander Edler who was denied from the left face off circle and Ryan Kesler, who's bullet from the slot wound up being drilled right at the goalie.

Now with a record of 6-6-0, the Canucks will prepare to take on the Nashville Predators at home on Tuesday. The Preds come to Vancouver at 6-4-1 and are one point ahead of Vancouver in the Western Conference standings.

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