Monday, March 23, 2009

Canucks Open Road Trip With Loss In Desert

The Canucks couldn’t by a bounce or a break in either end of the rink Saturday night. An own goal into an empty net and the pulling of Roberto Luongo for the just the second time this season hi-lighted Vancouver’s 5-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at the Jobing.Com Arena.

Despite firing 15 shots in the opening period of play, the Canucks were unable to beat Coyotes netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. Alex Burrows had the best chance for the visitors, but he failed to get a decent shot away on a 2-on-1 short-handed rush alongside Mason Raymond.

Phoenix took the lead with just under six minutes to go in the period as Daniel Winnek’s attempted pass from behind the net wound up deflecting off the leg of Mattias Ohlund and past Luongo. Winnik’s 3rd of the season helped Phoenix improve their overall record when scoring first to 17-12-1.

Early on in the 2nd period, Coyotes captain Shane Doan made it a 2-0 contest as his snap shot from the right face off circle found its way under the arm and above the right pad of Luongo. Doan’s team-leading 27th of the season came 1:21 into the frame.

A short time later, the home team padded their lead while on a power play. A great cross-zone pass by Steven Reinprecht found Ed Jovanovski pinching in from the left point. His shot found its way to the back of the net, giving the former Canuck his first goal in ten games. It was his 7th of the season and it came at 3:25.

Just when it looked the Canucks might be given some life, they wound up being completely deflated by a bizarre goal. A delayed penalty was about to be called against Viktor Tikhonov and Luongo got to the bench for the extra attacker. While in his own zone, Henrik Sedin saw a weak clearing attempt knock off the stick of Tikhonov at the Canucks blue line. Attempting to get control of the puck, Shane O’Brien wound up hitting it towards his own goal. Despite a desperation diving play to swat it to the corner, O’Brien saw the puck make its way into the unguarded Canucks goal. Tikhonov wound up getting credit for his 8th goal of his rookie season at 10:30 and had to celebrate it by spending the next two minutes in the penalty box.

Jason LaBarbera came out to play in the third period as Luongo wound up being replaced after allowing three goals on 24 shots. The only other time the Canucks captain had been pulled this season came back October 13 in a 5-1 loss on the road against the Washington Capitals.

The first shot that came LaBarbera’s way made it a 5-0 Phoenix lead. The goaltender couldn’t be faulted on this one though as Matthew Lombardi made a great move to out-wait the netminder on a deek before tucking the puck inside the post. Lombardi’s 12th of the season came at 3:13.

The shut-out bid of Bryzgalov came late in the final frame as Burrows wound up stuffing in a rebound chance from the slot. Alexander Edler and Ryan Johnson chip in the assists on the 24th of the season for Burrows at 18:35. It was a small amount of consolation for Burrows, who has ten goals in his last 13 games.

Final shots on net favoured Vancouver by a margin of 36-33. The Canucks wound up going 0-for-4 on the power play while Phoenix went 1-for-7.

Having lost four straight road games, the Canucks overall record now stands at 38-24-9. Next up will be their fourth and final meeting of the season against the Dallas Stars. Game time Tuesday night at the Americans Airlines Arena is 5:30pm PST.

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