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Canucks lose another shootout to the Kings
Jon Foxall

Canucks lose another shootout to the Kings
Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks keeps an eye on the puck after making a save against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period in NHL action on January 17, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Vancouver - January 18, 2012 - Did the Vancouver Canucks sell their soul to beat the Boston Bruins earlier this month? Or was defeating the team that beat them in the finals last year enough vindication for the Canucks this season? Whatever the excuse is, it is painfully obvious that the Vancouver Canucks are not the same team that closed out 2011, because since beating the Bruins they have been playing like they are suffering from a Stanley Cup hangover!

The Canucks started tonight’s game against the L.A Kings like they did against the Ducks: slow and sloppy. The offensive pressure stalled, or rather never even got going in the first period as they again struggled in the offensive zone giving up the puck far too often resulting in odd man rushes for the Kings. Even though the Canucks entered the dressing room down a goal after 20 minutes, it could have been worse, lots worse if it wasn’t for Roberto Luongo making some fantastic saves early in the period. The only goal that beat him was a Dustin Penner tip on a blueline shot by Drew Doughty that beat him low glove side. Once again, the Canucks give up the first goal, and let were outshot 15-10.

The Canucks started the second period with a little more authority in the offensive zone as they applied early pressure on Quick. Ryan Kesler had a puck labeled for the top corner of the net at 19:30, but Quick made “Luongo-esque glove save to keep the Canucks off the board. The pressure paid off though at 2:41 when Alex Edler setup Daniel Sedin to beat Quick with Kesler providing the screen. It was a glimmer of the Canucks puck movement game trying to resurface and it was sight for sore eyes. Burrows also assisted on the play as well. Kesler, Higgins and Booth had a good opportunity to take the lead at the 5 minute mark when they made a rush into the zone at the end of their shift, but just couldn’t beat Quick.

Justin Williams put the Kings up 2-1 late in the period when he snapped the rebound home from a Willie Mitchell shot to beat Luongo. The scoring chance might not have developed if the referee’s on the ice were watching the action on the ice instead of looking for celebrities in the crowd, as Alexandre Burrows was clearly interfered with in open ice away from the play moments before the goal. Not the first time a blown call has cost a team a goal, and definitely won’t be the last, but it’s the last thing a struggling Canucks team needed! The period ended with the Kings leading 2-1 and on the power play when Jannik Hansen took a hooking penalty at 18:50.

David Booth evened the score 5 minutes into the third period by taking a hard cross crease pass from Jannik Hansen to snap the tying goal into the empty side of the net as Quick was out of position trying to intercept the pass. Fantastic pass resulted in a fantastic goal by Booth who scored his 6th of the season! With the score tied 2-2, it seemed like a brand new game, with a brand new Canucks team as the goal seemed to invigorate the home team. Luongo remained sharp in goal, and the Canucks were starting to generate more scoring chances as they were beginning to control the puck more in the Kings zone. Midway through the period, Hansen almost took the lead on a pass from Edler but he hit the side of the net after Quick was down and out on the play. Burrows also had a great opportunity by taking a long lead pass which sprung him in on Quick, but just couldn’t beat him. Offensively the Canucks were looking much better, but not so much on the D-side as Kevin Bieksa gave the puck up at the Kings blueline again allowing a rush into the Canucks zone. Luckily though Burrows put the jets on and was able to come back into the play and break up the rush. But Kevin wasn’t done yet as he was trying to bring the puck out of the zone, he gave it away AGAIN!

With 35 seconds left in the game, Luongo was doing everything he could for his team, including taking an Anze Kopitar shot off the bean during another Kings 3 on 1 rush. If it wasn’t for Luongo making some key stops, especially early on, this game would have been over after the first 20 minutes, so he was definitely the reason the game ended in a tie. The overtime period was all Kings in the first 3 minutes as the Canucks couldn’t get the puck out of their zone if their life depended on it, and luckily Luongo was up to the task as he made a game saving stop on shot by Kopitar with 10 seconds left in the overtime period.

But, all good things must come to an end sooner or later, and in the Luongo’s case it was later, because with the OT period solving nothing it meant the dreaded shootout would be needed to decide the winner. And we don’t need to guess how this one ended. It’s really frustrating to understand how a goaltender like Luongo can make highlight reel saves for 70 minutes where he is virtually unstoppable, but in a shootout he turns into a sieve? I really don’t get it! The Kings win in the shootout 2-1 with Burrows scoring the only goal for the Canucks. The Kings went on to win with a final score of 3-2.

I hope this “Stanley Cup hangover” ends soon for the Canucks because they definitely have not been the same since beating the Bruins on the 7th. There are a few players who are showing up on game day and giving it their all. Then there are others who are notably absent except for the number on a sweater! Let’s see if the Canucks can figure out their woes in the three day off period they have before facing the Sharks in another Saturday afternoon game.

PS: if anybody sees Henrik Sedin stumbling around looking lost, can you remind him that his team is waiting for him and point him in the direction of the Canucks dressing room? The official stat sheet shows him as having 22 minutes total ice time tonight, but I would beg to differ!

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