Monday, December 1, 2008

Canucks Fall Short in Columbus Monday

The Canucks poured on the pressure down the stretch, but were unable to beat rookie goalie Steve Mason Monday night as the Columbus Blue Jackets hung on for a 3-2 win at the Nationwide Arena. The good news from this game saw Vancouver score both of their goals on the power play. The bad news came in the way of the Canucks continuing to find themselves in penalty trouble while starting netminder Curtis Sanford left the game with a back injury.

The two clubs were scoreless in the opening period, but not for lack of chances. Sanford was very strong, making some hi-lite reel saves off the likes Derrick Brassard, Rick Nash, and Fredrik Modin. At the other end of the rink, Mason was sharp on all eight shots the Canucks put his way. Sanford however went into the intermission break with back spasms and would not return to action, making way for Cory Schneider to appear in his second game in a row.

The Canucks did open the scoring on a power play in the early part of the 2nd. Alexander Edler's point shot would be deflected on target by Daniel Sedin who set up a screen. The rebound would be gobbled up by Kyle Wellwood who buried his 10th of the season. His team-leading 5th power play goal of the campaign came at 3:27.

Just prior to the midway point of the period, the Blue Jackets got an equalizer with a power play of their own. Despite having the worst power play percentage in the NHL, the Jackets looked good on this chance as Kristian Huselius found a wide open Modin in the slot. He made no mistake netting his 3rd of the year. Nash collects the other assist on the Jackets' 12th power play goal of the year at 9:30.

Vancouver got back into the lead with another power play tally in the 3rd period. With Daniel again parked in front of Mason at the top of the crease, Kevin Bieksa wired home a shot from the middle of the blue line that found the top corner. Henrik Sedin and Edler notch the helpers on Beiksa's 4th of the season at 5:28.

Daniel nearly gave the Canucks a two-goal cushion as he was sprung free on a breakaway from the Columbus blue-line. However the 20 year-old netminder stood-tall and denied the Canucks leading scorer with a pad save.

A few shifts later, the Blue Jackets 4th line was able to get the home team back on to level terms. As Mike Commodore was about to release a shot from the point, Schneider lost his footing at the top of the crease. He wound up making the save while on the ice, but the rebound would be snapped home by Andrew Murray. Manny Malhotra gets the other assist on just the third of the year for Murray at 9:03.

The eventual game-winning goal came with under five minutes to play in regulation. Nash did a good job to fight off a check in the Canucks corner and found a wide open Huselius in front. Schneider had no chance on the 9th of the season for Huselius at 15:16.

Vancouver really poured on the pressure in the final five minutes and were given a gift when Fedor Tyutin took a penalty with under two minutes remaining. The Canucks got the extra attaker on the ice and were able to work a 6-on-4 man advantage. Wellwood had the best opportunity at the left side of the crease, but Mason came up with a massive glove save to keep his team in the lead and eventually preserve the win.

For the first time in 11 games, the Canucks out-shot their opponents as they had an edge of 32-29. However, Vancouver could have been much more disciplined as the 2nd-most penalized team in the NHL wound up being short-handed eight times. The Canucks finished the night going 2-for-5 on the power play while the Blue Jackets went 1-for-8.

Now 14-9-2, the Canucks will look to snap out of a three-game losing streak on Thursday night. It won't be easy though as they travel to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

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