Thursday, January 8, 2009

Canucks Double Up Oilers in Sundin's Debut

The Vancouver Canucks didn’t need to depend on Mats Sundin in his debut Wednesday night at Rexall Place. Instead, the line of Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, and Steve Bernier stole the show in helping pace the visiting squad to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

The opening period was not one for the hi-lite reel as neither team was able to find the back of the net. Willie Mitchell looked to have gotten the Canucks on the score board just prior to the midway point of the frame. However, Alex Bolduc wound up colliding into goalie Dwayne Roloson, nullifying what could have been Mitchell’s 2nd goal of the season.

In the opening moments of the 2nd period, Mattias Ohlund threw a crunching hit along the boards against Erik Cole. Ohlund wound up being challenged by Sheldon Souray to a scrap, which the Oilers d-man had the upper-hand in.

Vancouver was able to open the scoring in the final six minutes of the middle session as Burrows snapped out of a long goal-scoring slump. Bernier found a loose puck behind the net and was able to get it into the slot for Burrows, who wasted no time one-timing a shot behind the Edmonton netminder. Kesler gets the other assist on the first goal in 13 games for Burrows. It proved to be his 9th of the year at 14:07.

It didn’t take long for the Oilers to respond with the equalizer they were hoping for. While on a power play, Souray let a shot go from the point that Jason LaBarbera stopped with his blocker. Andrew Cogliano misfired on his rebound chance, but Robert Nilsson was able to jab the puck across the goal line. Nilsson gets credit for his 6th of the campaign at 15:37.

Vancouver got back into the lead after a turnover by the Oilers at their own blue line. Burrows found Kesler in the right face off circle. His back-handed drop pass to the slot found Bernier trailing the play. He unleashed a bullet of a slap shot that rattled off the cross bar and in. Bernier, who had gone 13 straight with a goal, netted his 8th of the season at 17:20.

On the next shift, the Canucks padded their lead with the same line still on the ice. Burrows got a loose puck free behind Roloson and immediately found Bernier in the left face off circle. His shot beat the Oilers goalie down low. Despite the back of the net having been lifted off the ice, the posts stayed firmly in tact in their position and allowed Bernier to net his 9th of the year just 12 seconds after giving the Canucks a one-goal lead. That proved to be the game winner, making Bernier the 13th Canucks player to score a goal which helped the Canucks to collect two points for their efforts.

Cole made things interesting for the home team in the third period by re-directing a point shot home off that came courtesy of Steve Staios. Shawn Horcoff also gets on the score sheet as Cole tallied his 8th of the year at 8:48.

The Oilers pressed down the stretch and were able to get Roloson to the bench for the extra attacker. However, Daniel Sedin wound up picking off a pass from Souray at the Oilers blue line and found Pavol Demitra high in the slot. He blasted a slap shot into the empty net for his 12th of the season with just 35 seconds left in regulation.

Final shots on net did favour the Oilers 25-22. The Canucks finished the game going 0-for-4 on the power play while Edmonton went 1-for-4.

As for Sundin, he wasn’t a major factor in the out-come for the Canucks. He did officially log 15:02 minutes of ice time, which was what coach Alain Vigneault was hoping for heading into his debut. Sundin played on a line with Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond and even saw some time on the power play playing with the Sedin twins.

Now with an overall record of 22-15-5, Vancouver has 49 points on the season. That moves them eight points clear of the Oilers, who the Canucks are now 3-2-0 against in five match-ups this season.

Next up for the Canucks will be the struggling St. Louis Blues for their first of four meetings this season. Game time Friday night at GM Place is 7:00pm PST.

No comments: