Monday, January 5, 2009

Another Shoot Out Loss To Division Cellar Dweller

The Vancouver Canucks shoot-out woes continued on home ice Sunday night. For the fifth time this season, the Canucks were not able to collect the extra point in the show down. It was also the fifth time this season that Vancouver lost in a shoot-out to a team that occupies last spot in their respective division as the this time they fell 3-2 to the Dallas Stars.

This game really could not have started any better for the team playing it's first home game of 2009 at GM Place. Kyle Wellwood opened the scoring at 2:11 after re-directing a great pass to the top of the crease by Steve Bernier. For Wellwood, it was his 14th goal of the season.

The Stars had their chances to get on the scoreboard, but Jason LaBarbera came up with some good pad saves on the likes of Loui Eriksson and Mike Modano.

Vancouver was able to build their lead with less than five minutes to go in the period as Darcy Hordichuk snapped in a shot underneath netminder Marty Turco. Jason Jaffray and Alex Bolduc collect the helpers on Hordichuk's 4th of the campaign at 15:40.

Before the period was out, the Stars got a huge goal from their all-time leading scorer. James Neal fed a great pass on an odd-man rush to the slot for Modano, who drilled home his 13th of the season. Eriksson gets the other assist on the opening goal for the visitors with just ten seconds before the intermission break.

The first penalty call in this game occured at the 10:00 mark of the 2nd period, but the Canucks were unable to capitalize on their power play chance. A short time later, the Stars were able to work on a 5-on-3 power play after the Canucks were dinged with a too-many-men on the ice penalty and a careless roughing infraction against Ryan Kesler. A nice feed from Jere Lehtinen across the slot allowed a wide open Mike Ribeiro to bury his opportunity. Modano also hits the score sheet on Ribeiro's 7th of the season at 13:51.

The third period was dominated by the goalies. LaBarbera came up with a great save off of Steve Ott while the Stars worked a 2-on-1 rush. However that save did not come anywhere close to the hi-lite reel stop LaBarbera made off of Ribeiro. With a wide open net staring him in the face, Ribeiro thought he had a sure goal as his chance beside the left post was labelled for the net. But LaBarbera wound up sprawling across the crease to get his glove down to the goal-line and make one of the biggest saves of the year in the NHL.

Not to be out-done, Turco came up with some big stops of his own. The biggest came on a 2-on-1 rush for Vancouver where he stoned Mason Raymond at the top of the crease.

Neither team was able to score through the remainder of regulation or overtime, so the game would need to be decided in the shoot-out. Of their first three shooters, only Wellwood was able to score for the Canucks while Eriksson did the same for Dallas. Kesler converted his chance by Turco to put Vancouver in the lead. However LaBarbera, despite getting a piece of Modano's snap shot, wasn't able to get enough as the puck trickled across the goal line.

Alex Burrows failed to beat Turco and then Neal netted his chance past LaBarbera to hand the Canucks their fifth shoot-out loss of the year.

Final shots on net favoured Dallas 36-35. The Canucks wound up going 0-for-2 on the power play while the Stars went 1-for-3.

With the loss, the Canucks see their record now sit at 21-15-5. The club will be back on the ice Wednesday when they take on the Oilers in Edmonton. Game time is 6:00pm PST.

Following the game against the Stars, the Canucks announced forward Jannik Hansen and goalie Cory Schneider have been re-assigned to the Manitoba Moose. Hansen has appeared in 37 games with Vancouver this season, recording four goals and 13 assists. As for Schneider, he's heading back to the AHL after going 2-4-1 with the Canucks, posting a 3.38 goals against average. He returns to the Moose, where he has gone 10-1-0 with the Winnipeg club.

The reason for these moves comes as Mats Sundin gets closer to making his debut in a Vancouver uniform. He will travel to Edmonton, but has not yet decided if he'll dress at Rexall Place. Goalie Curtis Sanford has been taken off the Canucks injured reserved list after missing the last three games with a groin injury. He'll back-up LaBarbera in Edmonton.

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