Canucks Down Pesky Oilers with 3-2 Shootout Victory

first_img On the flip side, I have never seen Jordan Eberle this invisible in any game, ever.  He was on a line with Sam Gagner (who was noticeable and played well, strangely enough). While they didn’t appear on the scoresheet, the third line had a strong outing as well for Vancouver.  Hodgson just seems to get better and better, and Hansen was responsible for one of the crossbars.  Mason Raymond hasn’t scored much at all, lately, but was all over the ice tonight and as always played well defensively. Credit the Oilers for sticking with it – knowing the score was close, they never quit and were twice able to come back and tie the game. They were dangerous on almost every shift.  While Henrik was held pointless (for the fourth straight game), the line generated a ton of chances and when they play like this, it’s only a matter of time before the puck starts going in the net with more frequency.While it might appear the twins need some rest, they will unfortunately not get as much as the rest of the team as they are both headed to this weekend’s All-Star game in Ottawa.  I won’t go into a big diatribe about the All-Star game, but as a Canuck fan, I’d much rather that the players weren’t obligated to attend this useless excuse for a hockey game. CANUCKS’ TOP DEFENSIVE PAIRING STELLARThere’s only one word to describe the play of the Canucks’ top defensive pair of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa tonight – spectacular.  While it wasn’t the flashiest game you’ll see NHL players put on the ice, these two were rock solid all night long, had great speed and quickness, and were a dominant force throughout the game.  Both players wound up plus-2, and Hamhuis got a key assist on the game’s first goal.  This is an important development for the Canucks, as the pair had been struggling somewhat in recent games.Every time it seemed like the talented young Oiler forwards were about to generate something, Hamhuis and Bieksa just seemed to make a good, smart play.  Whether it was outracing their opponent to the puck, putting their stick in the right passing lane, or getting the right angle on the puck carrier coming over the blue line, it was just perfect. While the game didn’t feature much hitting, they played a good physical game in their own zone and were often had good body position on the Oilers.  They also excelled at moving the puck tonight, clearing the zone with relative impunity and getting the forwards the puck, who were generally able to do something with it tonight (case in point was the Canucks’ second goal, the rush started on a stellar outlet pass from Hamhuis to Kesler).When these guys are on their game, the Canucks are difficult to beat.  Hopefully we’ll see this kind of effort on more consistent basis moving forward. DAVID BOOTH CONTINUES TO IMPRESSTonight was Booth’s fourth game since returning from his knee injury, and he put another great effort on the ice.  Since his return, the second line has been great, and again tonight they caused a lot of problems for the Oilers.  His speed is very good and while he’s not an excessively physical player, his size matches up well with other players and he’s able to use his body position to shield the puck and get it to his linemates in the offensive zone.At first blush, his goal tonight was a dirty, goal-mouth scramble type of goal.  However, I think it was much more than that – he was able to outmuscle Hall near the Oiler net (as he should be able to do), but he actually showed a lot of skill as he used his skate to touch the puck back to his stick before sweeping it in the net, all while being knocked to the ice by Hall.  Make no mistake, this was a very skilled goal scored by a skilled player. Seeing him and Kesler forming this kind of chemistry in limited time makes me excited to see what they will be able to do with another 20 games together under their belts. PARTING SHOTSQuick Comments: This game’s scoreline was much closer than it should have been and was not indicative of the run of the play.  The Canucks were the better team for most of the night, certain sections of the second period notwithstanding, and they generated far more quality scoring chances.  The four goalposts helped Edmonton’s cause, but that said, hockey can just be like that.  Next time, those pucks will hopefully go in. The game was a no-hitter, it seemed like both teams wanted to get to the break without any physical confrontation.  There were only three penalties called, all for hooking or interference. The Oilers’ line of Horcoff-Hall-Hemsky had a very good night.  I haven’t seen Hemsky play this well in ages – he was back to his old self, it seemed, the puck glued to his stick and him able to make some slick passes.  That said – Hall was by far Edmonton’s best player.  All over the ice, fast, skilled, good size – he’s going to be a beast in the NHL for many years. Leigh Ramsden lives in Vancouver and is an avid Canucks fan, having been a partial season ticket holder for over 10 years. He’s old enough to have witnessed all three Stanley Cup losses, as such, his prime goal is to remove those scars by seeing a Cup brought to Vancouver. Leigh is Fighting For Stanley’s (www.fightingforstanley.ca/vancouver) west coast correspondent, and will also blog after all Canuck games for The Nelson Daily.The Vancouver Canucks concluded their pre-All-Star break schedule on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 by way of a shootout.The Canucks had a tremendous first period, as they came at the Oilers in waves and spent entire shifts possessing the puck in the Oilers’ zone.  They were able to break through on a beautiful goal by Daniel Sedin, his line having cycled the puck in Edmonton’s goal for approximately 90 seconds.  Inexplicably, the Oilers actually outshot the Canucks in the first period, but Vancouver had the lion’s share of the chances.This trend continued in the second period, but Edmonton played much better in what has been the Canucks’ worst period on a night to night basis.  Shawn Horcoff scored on a tremendous feed from young Oiler Taylor Hall, after a defensive breakdown in the Canucks’ end while the bottom defensive pairing and the fourth line were on the ice.  While Edmonton had a much better period, the Canucks hit a post late in the second (having hit one in the first as well) and this goal might have been the back breaker for the Oilers, who had played the previous night in Edmonton.The Canucks came out determined in the third to end the game favourably.  Buoyed by strong play from the top two lines, the Canucks returning to their swashbuckling ways, trading chances with Edmonton and for the most part, getting the better of the play.  The effort was rewarded on a goal by David Booth, the result of hard work in front of the net after a 3-on-2 where Oiler netminder Devan Dubnyk lost the puck to his side, next to the crease. The Canucks were unfortunate to hit the crossbar twice in the third period as well.  The resilient Oilers tied the game up a second time after a Hall deflection on a late power play, sending the game into an extra session.Overtime featured end to end play, and a couple of good saves by each goaltender, but didn’t solve anything.  Canuck rookie Cody Hodgson scored the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout, to deliver the Canucks two points heading into the break.Vancouver is happy the break has now arrived.  Their play in the last couple of weeks has been very up and down – they have played their best against the tougher teams (Boston, San Jose, L.A., St. Louis), but have struggled against their weaker opponents (Anaheim, Edmonton, Tampa Bay, Florida). There have been times recently that they just look tired, and the six-day break coming up for all but four of the players should be a good tonic for them both physically and mentally.  Now that everyone is again healthy, the team needs to refocus and set their sights on the stretch drive into the playoffs. TWINS RETURN FROM MIA STATUSIn recent outings, the Sedins have not been their normal, dangerous selves, often relatively invisible.  In addition, the Canuck power play has been struggling, due at least partially to the Sedins’ lack of production.  Tonight, they appeared to be much more “Sedin-like” – they were toying with Edmonton on many shifts, including the one that resulted in the first Canuck goal.  Sami Salo returned to the lineup for the Canucks after missing the last seven game with a concussion.  He wasn’t that noticeable, however, you did notice the lack of problems with the Canucks’ D as Ballard and Rome could play third-pairing minutes. Luongo made a couple of very good saves in the shootout.  He also made a great save in overtime on Gagner.  He wasn’t called upon to make a ton of phenomenal saves tonight, but he played well at the end of the game.  He could not be blamed for either Edmonton goal.Broadcast Observation of the Day:  In general, I prefer the Sportsnet games to our other options.  That said, I’m not the biggest fan of Shorthouse.  Instead of calling the game, he often attempts to get Garrett involved in conversations about silly things like food, or jokingly makes fun of him and his NHL career.  It’s all in good fun, but for the TV viewer, it’s not that funny nor interesting.  I’d much rather have some proper analysis done of the game.Two nice touches tonight:  in his first intermission interview, Hamhuis told the residents of Burns Lake that the team’s thoughts were with them as they deal with the devastating fire in that small community’s lifeblood, its sawmill.  Hamhuis was raised in nearby Smithers. Also, GM Mike Gillis was with Dan Murphy in both intermissions, and the first segment was dedicated to the Canucks’ support of the re-launch of mental illness website, www.mindcheck.ca.  The site is dedicated to awareness of mental health issues and is meant to provide resources for youth and young adults in need.  The Canucks are behind this initiative primarily in memory of and tribute to Rick Rypien.Looking ahead: The Canucks will take six days off before returning next Tuesday night to play the Chicago Blackhawks.  Stay tuned to www.fightingforstanley.ca for mid-season reviews of all the Canadian-based NHL teams over the All-Star break, including an analysis of the Canucks, their season to date, their prospects in the playoffs, and what their trade deadline needs, if any, are.last_img