Saturday, December 6, 2008

Losing Skid Stops With Schneider's 1st Win

In a goaltenders duel Friday night in St. Paul, it was Canucks netminder Cory Schneider who came out on top at the Excel Engery Center as Vancouver skated away with a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. The win stopped the club's four-game losing streak and it put the Canucks back in top spot in the Northwest Division.

Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom did his part in the first period to keep things level as he wasted tested often by the Canucks forwards. The likes of Taylor Pyatt and Daniel Sedin had some great chances early on from the slot, but Backstrom stood tall in his crease.

Vancouver continued to blitz the Wild and kept the home team pinned in their own zone. Eventually the Canucks were rewarded for their efforts with a goal on the power play. Daniel moved the puck to the right face off cirlce for Henrik Sedin. Instead of shooting, he fed Kevin Bieksa at the left point. With Daniel parked in front setting a screen, Bieksa wired a shot behind Backstrom. For Bieksa, it was his 5th of the year and it came at 13:55.

The Wild didn't have many good chances before the period was over. Brent Burns did have their best opportunity from close quarters, but Schneider came up with a big stop with close to two minutes before the intermission break. That would be Minnesota's best scoring chance of the period, one that saw Vancouver out-shoot the home team 14-3.

It did not take long into the middle period for the Canucks to see their lead slip away. With the two teams skating 4-on-4 to start the frame, the Wild forced the Vancouver defence to turn the puck over behind their net. Nick Schultz wound up getting a great chance from between the hash marks, but his blast was stopped by Schneider. However the rebound would be snapped home by Mikko Koivu. For Koivu, it was his 10th of the season and it extended his point scoring streak to seven straight games (5g,6a). Antti Miettinen picked up the other assist just 27 seconds into the period.

A few shifts later, the Canucks restored their lead for good. Darcy Hordichuk moved the puck up the left wing for Jannik Hansen, who quickly dropped a pass for Jason Jaffray. His shot took a deflection off Kim Johnsson's stick in the face off circle, deflected off Backstrom's glove, and found its way into the net. Jaffray's first of the season came in his third game since being called up from the Manitoba Moose. It also proved to be the game winner and it came at 3:52.

The rest of the period belonged to Schneider. With twelve minutes gone in the period, Stephane Veilleux was stoned by Schneider who made a great right pad save. Then with roughly three minutes remaining, Burns was left all alone in front, but Schneider came up with his biggest save of the game to keep the Canucks in the lead.

The final period didn't feature a lot of hi-end scoring chances for either team as the Canucks were able to preserve their lead and hang on for the one-goal win. Vancouver finished the night off out-shooting the Wild 31-17. In a very disciplined performance by both teams, the Canucks went 1-for-2 on the power play while Minnesota went 0-for-2.

Improving now to 15-10-2, the Canucks carry on their lengthy road trip to Denver where they'll play the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday. Game time is 5:00pm PST.

No comments: