Saturday, January 3, 2009

Canucks Slip Up In Atlanta Friday

The good news from Friday night: the Vancouver Canucks came back from two one-goal deficits and earned a point on the road in a back-to-back scenario.

The bad news from Friday night: the Vancouver Canucks could not take away a possible two points from the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.

Despite a combined eight points from the Canucks top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Pavol Demitra, Vancouver still suffered a 4-3 loss in a shoot-out at the Phillips Arena.

It didn’t take long for the crowd of just under 15,000 to get into the game as just six seconds into the game, Mike Brown had a lengthy scrap with Thrashers enforcer Eric Boulton. That created a pretty good buzz in the areana for what turned out to be a pretty entertaining game between two clubs that face each other only once all season.

The Thrashers opened the scoring while the Canucks worked on a power play. Niclas Havelid was able to clear the puck out of his own zone up the right wing for Joseph Crabb. After being able to beat Demitra to the puck, Crabb wound up wiring a shot from the top of the face off circle past goalie Jason LaBarbera. Marty Reasoner collects the other assist on the first short-handed goal of the year for Atlanta. It proved to be Crabb’s third of the campaign nine minutes into the game.

Less than a minute later, the Canucks were able to find themselves working a 5-on-3 power play and they made mistake. Kevin Bieksa’s point shot would be knocked down at the top of the crease by Daniel Sedin. The puck bounced free to a wide open Henrik Sedin, who had little trouble beating Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen. For Henrik, it was his first power play goal of the season and it extended his point scoring streak to four straight games. It also was his 6th of the season and it came at 10:26.

Henrik gave Vancouver the lead in the middle frame on a nice set-up from his brother. Demitra found Daniel behind the net and he wasted no time dishing the puck in front to Henrik. Just like that, the Canucks were up 2-1 on Henrik’s 7th at 7:14.

The Thrashers were able to get some life while working on a power play and eventually scored just as their man advantage expired. Jason Williams found Ilya Kovalchuk in the left face off circle and he immediately drilled home a snap shot past LaBarbera. Eric Christensen gets the other assist on the 13th of the year for Kovalchuk at 12:24.

Atlanta was able to get back into the lead early on in the third period while working on another man advantage. This time, Slava Kozlov was able to capitalize on a back-handed chance from low in the slot. Kovalchuk and Todd White help Kozlov score his first goal in seven games. It was also his 16th of the campaign and it had the home team up by a goal at 3:46.

The Canucks were able to generate some pressure in the latter half of the final period and were rewarded for their efforts courtesy of the top offensive line. Henrik’s long-range snap shot wound up being deflected home by Daniel. Demitra chips in the other assist on Daniel’s team-leading 19th of the year at 11:16.

Neither team was able to score again through the rest of regulation time or into overtime. The Thrashers had the better of the chances in OT, as Jason Williams was robbed on two fantastic opportunities by LaBarbera.

For the fifth time this season, the Canucks wound up having to solve a game in a shoot-out. Demitra capitalized on his first chance while Kozlov was the only of the first three Atlanta shooters to score. Alex Burrows had an opportunity to win it for Vancouver, but he couldn’t beat Lehtonen with his back-handed chance. Christensen scored on a beautiful move to put the Thrashers in the driver’s seat and that proved to be the clinching goal and Daniel Sedin failed to convert on his chance.

For the second straight night, the Canucks were tied with their opponents on the shot clock as both teams tied 38-38. Vancouver finished the night going 1-for-3 on the power play while Atlanta went 1-for-5. In their last four games, the Canucks have allowed one power play goal against in 14 short-handed situations.

The Canucks overall record in the shoot-out dropped to 1-4. They have lost twice in the showdown to the Colorado Avalanche. Their other two losses have come to the Thrashers and New York Islanders, both teams who currently sit in the basement of the NHL standings. Vancouver’s lone victory in a shoot-out came on Halloween when they needed 13 shooters to defeat the Ducks in Anaheim 7-6.

Now with an overall record of 21-15-4, the Canucks remain in second place in the Northwest Division with 46 points. They’ll hit the midway point of the season on Sunday night when they entertain the Dallas Stars for the first time this season. Game time at General Motors Place is 7:00pm PST.

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