Saturday, March 7, 2009

Canucks 7th Heaven After Dumping Sharks

Make it seven straight wins on home ice for the Canucks and it comes with their first win in a long time against the San Jose Sharks. Saturday night, the Canucks had a fantastic start and were able use it to their advantage on their way to a 3-1 win at GM Place.

Alexander Edler was able to open the scoring for the home team with the two sides skating 4-on-4. Ryan Kesler was able to move the puck to the point for Mattias Ohlund who dished it off to his defence partner. His shot whistled past Alex Burrows who had set up a screen in front of netminder Brian Boucher. Edler gets credit for 8th of the season at 3:15. The assist by Ohlund also moved him into a tie with Dennis Kearns and Jyrki Lumme for the Canucks record for points by a defenceman (321).

A few shifts later, the Canucks built their lead on a great passing play down low behind the Sharks net. Kesler was able to cycle the puck to the end boards for Pavol Demitra. His quick feed in front found a wide open Mats Sundin, who made no mistake beating Boucher to the back hand. Sundin entered the game having gone ten straight without scoring. That streak snapped with his 7th of the season at 6:02.

Roberto Luongo did his part to keep the Canucks in the lead for the remainder of the period. His best save out of the ten shots he faced came with a big blocker-hand stop off of Milan Michalek at the side of the net.

The Canucks had some great opportunities to put the game out of reach in the second period during three straight power plays. However they weren't able to beat Boucher who was able to give his team a chance.

Eventually the Sharks were able to get on the scoreboard and it came on a power play. Rob Blake wound up having a shot from long range go off the back of his foot into the slot for Jonathan Cheechoo. He dished a quick pass to a wide open Joe Thorton who had no trouble snapping home his 18th of the season. What proved to be the lone goal for San Jose occured with just three seconds to go before the 2nd intermission.

The two squads got involved in a very tight-checking style of play for the first eight-to-ten minutes of the third period which didn't result in many scoring chances. Vancouver did eventually restore their two-goal lead after Devin Setoguchi took a careless holding penatly. Kevin Bieksa's shot from long range along the ice found its way underneath Boucher. Sami Salo and Daniel Sedin pick up the helpers on Bieksa's 11th of the year at 11:48.

Luongo's best save of the night came with just under five minutes to play. Cheechoo was left all alone at the top of the crease and looked to have the Canucks captain beat. However his wrist shot wound up being snagged by the glove hand of Luongo as he laid on his stomach. That would be the last great chance for either team in the game as the Canucks hung on for their 12th win in their last 14 games.

Final shots on net were even at 29-29. The Canucks wound up going 1-for-6 on the power play while the Sharks finished the night 1-for-3.

Having improved their overall record to 34-22-8, the Canucks now find themselves with 76 points and are just five points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for home ice advantage in the playoffs. Next up for Vancouver will be a pair of road games next week in California. They'll start things off Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings. Game time at the Staples Center will be 7:30pm PST.

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