Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Canucks Double Oilers On Linden Night

Wednesday night could not have been scripted any better for Trevor Linden and the Vancouver Canucks. On an evening where Linden's #16 was raised to the rafters, the Canucks were able to post a 4-2 win over the struggling Edmonton Oilers.

The pre-game ceremony for Linden's retirement was nothing short of spectacular. Former teammates were on hand, including the likes of Stan Smyl, Kirk McLean, Gino Odjick, Greg Adams, and Cliff Ronning. Also on hand were NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Linden's former player representative Don Meehan, former Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths, and of course his wife, brothers, mother, and father. The ceremony, co-hosted by Jim Robson and John Shorthouse lasted nearly an hour before the two clubs met each other for the third time this season. The job done by TC Carling and Debbie Butt from the Canucks staff, who headed up a massive organizing committee for the event, was absolutely tremendous. It was certainly a night Canucks fans who saw it won't soon forget.

Both teams seemed to have trouble finding their legs early on once the action got going and the two clubs remained scoreless through the first 20 minutes. One of the hi-lites of the opening frame saw Shane O'Brien get stood up behind the net of Curtis Sanford by Oilers enforcer Zach Stortini. Stortini wound up fighting Mike Brown as O'Brien wound up leaving the game with an apparent charly horse injury.

It didn't take long into the middle period for the Canucks to open the scoring. While on a power play, Daniel Sedin was able to jab in a loose puck at the top of the crease and beat goalie Dwayne Roloson. Alexander Edler and Kyle Wellwood get the assists on the 13th of the year for Daniel at 1:14.

Shortly afterwards Vancouver was able to build the lead on a heads up play by Ryan Kesler. After scooping up a loose puck behind the Oilers net, he banked it off the pad of Roloson and across the goal line. Kesler, who has scored in back-to-back games, now has seven goals on the year. Willie Mitchell and Steve Bernier collect the helpers at 3:51.

Before the period was over, the Canucks made it a 3-0 contest as Daniel snapped in a bad angle shot on the short side of Roloson. Jannik Hansen and Kevin Bieksa helped Sedin score his team-leading 14th of the campaign at 16:10.

A scary moment for the Canucks came with two minutes remaining in the second period. Sami Salo was run into the end boards by Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau. Salo wound up leaving the game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. As a result the Canucks would have to play the final twenty minutes with just four defencemen.

The Oilers broke the shut-out bid of Sanford early on. Henrik Sedin turned the puck over in his own face off circle and Dustin Penner made him pay by capitalizing on a wrist shot. Penner's 9th of the year came at 2:32.

The physical element really picked up near the midway point of the period as Hansen through a huge open ice hit on Tom Gilbert while Bieksa rocked Sam Gagner behind the Vancouver goal. The visitors made things interesting though with under two minutes remaining as Sam Gagner scooped in a loose puck in the crease. Ales Hemsky and Robert Nilsson help Gagner score just his second goal of the year at 18:31.

Roloson was able to get to the bench for the extra attacker, but the Canucks wouldn't see the lead slip away as Hansen sealed the win with an empty netter. Hansen, who has now scored in back-to-back games, tallies his 5th of the year. Both of the Sedins collect assists on the play with 46 seconds left in the contest.

The Canucks wound up out-shooting the Oilers 28-24 in a game which saw both clubs go 1-for-6 on the power play. With the win, the Canucks improve their record against Northwest Division opponents to 7-3-2.

Now with an overall record of 18-11-3, the Canucks stayed tied with the Calgary Flames for top spot in the Northwest Division (39 pts.). Next up for Vancouver will be a red hot Chicago Blackhawks team, who wound up hammering the Oilers 9-2 in Edmonton on Tuesday night. Game time between the Canucks and Hawks on Saturday will be 7:00pm

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