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Canucks dominate Leafs to earn 5-3 win
The reeling Vancouver Canucks started the game strong, played with attitude for 60 minutes, and finished with a stifling forecheck to keep the Maple Leafs at bay to earn a 5-3 win to finish out the five game road trip with a 3-1-1 record. The Canucks made the statement early as to what kind of game the Leafs were in for.
Vancouver - Dec. 18, 2011 - The reeling Vancouver Canucks started the game strong, played with attitude for 60 minutes, and finished with a stifling forecheck to keep the Maple Leafs at bay to earn a 5-3 win to finish out the five game road trip with a 3-1-1 record. The Canucks made the statement early as to what kind of game the Leafs were in for, which begs the question where in the hell were these Canucks for their two previous games?
For two teams that have previously had penalty problems, tonight’s game was an extremely disciplined affair, as each team only had two penalties for the entire game, which meant for each period except the first, the they played at even strength. Not only was it nice to watch the Canucks dominate with their 5 on 5 game, but the goaltending on both ends was spectacular! Both Luongo and Gustavsson made some game changing saves to keep the game riveting, which was a welcome change from the Canucks two previous snooz-a-palooza’s!
First period, first minute, first shot, first goal was how the game started as Chris Higgins set the bar for the remainder of the game as he wristed a shot past Gustavsson. The Canucks couldn’t have asked for a better way to start this game as they came out early to set the tone for their opponent. But the party didn’t last long as Keith Ballard took a holding penalty two minutes later and the Leaf’s Joffrey Lupul was more than happy to make the Canucks pay as he tied up the score by finding Luongo’s rebound on a shot from Tyler Bozak. Luongo stopped the initial shot, but it looked as though he thought the puck was in his gear when the puck actually scooted out to his right to a waiting Lupul at the side of the crease to bang it home. Once again the Canucks took a stupid penalty and was unable to defend to power play, like we’ve seen time and time again. Frustrating!
That might have been it for the scoring in the period, but not the chances as both teams came close to breaking the deadlock but both goalies made some fantastic saves including a goal line save by Luongo as his team was on the power play. For the most part the refs pocketed their whistles and let the boys play, but they screwed up when they called off a goal for goaltender interference. Not sure what the ref was looking at during the play, but it sure wasn’t at the net as the shot from the point clearly passed the goal line and Gustavsson before Cody Franson pushed Ryan Kesler into the Leafs goalie.
The Canucks dominated the Leafs in the first period by controlling the puck in the offensive zone and keeping the pressure on. The difference being Gustavsson’s play as he made some key saves on shots from Burrows and Raymond to keep the score tied at one each, even though everybody knows it should have been 2-1. But no matter, there was still 40 minutes left to play.
Mason Raymond scored 49 seconds into the second period by picking up Kesler’s rebound and wristing over Gustavsson’s glove hand to break the tie. Raymond was in the right place at the right time and made no mistake on his shot. Tyler Bozak tied the score at two after Henrik Sedin coughed up the puck at the Canucks Blueline, sending Bozak away. In an unlikely shot, he spun around back handing the puck from the top of the left circle and beat Luongo over his right shoulder. It was a good move, resulting in a good fluky goal as Luongo was clearly taken off guard by the shot. Score tied at 2. Late in the second period though, Alexandre Burrows had some backhanded skill of his own to show off as he made a sweet backhanded pass to a streaking Daniel Sedin who beat Gustavsson to give the Canucks the lead with less than a minute left in the second period. Canucks up 3-2 after 40.
With the Canucks playing with the lead, and having controlled the puck and the play for the majority of the game, they started the third period with a stifling forecheck to keep the Maple Leafs from not even entertaining a thought of tying the score back up, and it worked until there was less than two minutes left in the game. With the Canucks enjoying a 4-2 on Alexander Burrows’ wrist shot that rattled off the post and behind Gustavsson, the shot-less Phil Kessel finally got a shot on Luongo and it was a goal to boot! At 17:17 Kessel beat Luongo as he took a cross crease pass from Bozak to beat Luongo high stick side to make the score 4-3 with time running out on the Leafs. But with just over 11/2 minutes remaining in the game, Jannik Hansen got on his horse and absolutely undressed Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf as he beat him on the outside with his speed and was able to put the puck past Gustavsson to seal the two goal margin for the Canucks.
The real story of tonight’s game were the goalies as they both came up big for their teams. Luongo was 26-29 and Gustavsson went 31-36, but in the end it was the Sedins and the Canucks speed that ultimately proved to be too much for the Leafs. Which again begs the question, where the hell were these Canucks in Columbus and Raleigh?
Jannik Hansen showing his speed as he makes Leafs defenceman and Captain Dion Phaneuf look old and tired on this goal to seal the win for the Canucks.
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