Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Canucks Bump The Slump Against Canes

The Canucks opened up the month of February by snapping a nine-game home ice losing streak Tuesday night with a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The victory was sealed on a dramatic finish while the home team was short-handed late in the third period.

This game couldn't have started any stronger for the home team. On their first power play of the night, Vancouver was able to convert with the extra skater. After Daniel & Henrik Sedin were able to work the puck around the Canes territory, Kevin Bieksa was able to get a shot off from high in the zone. Netminder Cam Ward got a piece of the shot, but not enough to keep it out of the net. For Bieksa, it was his fourth power play marker of the season and his first in four straight games. His 7th of the year came at 2:21.

The newly formed line of Ryan Kesler, Mats Sundin, and Pavol Demitra was able to build on the Canucks lead past the midway point of the period. After Sundin cycled the puck behind the Carolina goal, Demitra dished it to the right face off circle for Kesler. His one-time snap shot beat Ward on the short side, giving Kesler his third goal in the last two games. Kesler now has 12 goals on the season and it came at 12:41.

The Canucks had a solid start in the middle frame not allowing the visitors a shot on goal through the first ten minutes. However the Canes were able to break the shut out bid of Roberto Luongo while working on a power play. The Canucks captain had lost possession of his stick and Joe Corvo was able to beat him with a shot from the left face off circle. Eric Staal and Bryan Rodney collect the assists on Corvo's 8th at 11:14.

On the next shift, the game was back on level terms as Joni Pitkanen beat Luongo with a shot through the pads. Ray Whitney and Mark Cullen help Pitkanen tally his 5th of the season, just 25 seconds after the Canes hit the scoreboard.

Inside the final five minutes of the 2nd period, Vancouver got their lead back and they looked to their newest forward to get the job done. Sundin jumped on a loose puck behind the goal of Ward and wound up beating him on a wrap-around. Demitra and Kesler chip in with their 2nd points of the game on Sundin's 3rd as a Canuck at 15:10.

Carolina didn't take long into the third period to make it a 3-3 game and it came on another power play. A nice passing play between Corvo and Whitney allowed Staal to easily slide home his team-leading 22nd of the season, which came just 33 seconds into the period.

A big break came the Canucks way a few shifts later. Brandon Sutter was able to convert on a redirect and looked to have put the Canes in their first lead of the night. However the goal was waved off as Ryan Bayda was nailed with a goaltender interference penalty.

With just under three minutes left in the game, Mattias Ohlund took a hooking penalty and put Carolina in the driver's seat. However, Kesler made a great play to chip the puck out of the Vancouver zone and spring Alex Burrows on a breakaway. His move to the back-hand gave Ward no chance. Burrows scored his team-leading third short-handed marker of the year and what proved to be his 2nd game winning goal of the season. It was his 12th goal of the season and it occured at 18:38.

Despite carrying on with the power play and then getting the extra attacker on to the ice for the remainder of the period, Carolina was unable to get the equalizer and the Canucks hung on to get their first win in nine tries.

Final shots on net favoured the Hurricanes 27-24. The Canucks finished the night going 1-for-4 while the Canes went 2-for-4.

Now with an overall record 23-20-8, the Canucks have 54 points and jump into 7th spot in the Western Conference standings. The club will have the next few days off in preparation for a tough match-up on the weekend. Next Saturday, the Canucks will host the Chicago Blackhawks at GM Place for the final time this season. Game time is 7:00pm PST.

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