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Luongo comes up big in Shootout to beat the Oilers
Jon Foxall

Luongo comes up big in Shootout to beat the Oilers
The Vancouver Canucks welcomed the Edmonton Oilers to Rogers Arena tonight with a perfect opportunity to get their game back on track before the All-Star break this weekend. The Oilers too were looking to keep their momentum going after a shootout win over the San Jose Sharks last night in Edmonton.

Vancouver - January 25, 2012 - The Canucks welcomed the Oilers to Rogers Arena tonight with a perfect opportunity to get their game back on track before the All-Star break this weekend. The Oilers too were looking to keep their momentum going after a shootout win over the San Jose Sharks last night in Edmonton. Coincidentally enough, the Canucks last win was over the Sharks as well.

The Canucks and Oilers have a lot in common lately in terms of their game. The Oilers are having a dismal season, thanks largly to injuries to some key players in their lineup. They are just 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. The Canucks last 10 games haven’t exactly been anything to brag about either, as they have underperformed ever since beating the Boston Bruins one week ago on Saturday and are 5-3-2 in their last 10.

The first period seemed to have the feeling the Canucks were constantly on the power play as their puck control game in the Oilers zone was daunting. Hell, Hank, Dank, and Burrows were putting on a cycling clinic midway through the period. Even Aaron Rome wanted in on the fun as he jumped into the mix and had Henrik backing him up on the blueline! Watching the Canucks cycle the puck is mesmerizing at best and is one of the elements of the Canucks game that is truly unique to them, but unless the passing results in some quality shots on net and some goals in the end, it’s just flash and dash. And maybe that has been the Canucks problem lately because even though they controlled and cycled the puck very well in the Oilers zone, they were still outshot by the visitors in the first period, which seems to be a common theme lately for the Canucks.

Early on, the Canucks had their chances to open the scoring bt just fell short. Ryan Kesler broke up a clearing attempt at the blueline and broke in on net, but Devin Dubnyk was able to stop the high shot. A minute later Daniel Sedin and Burrows break into the offensive zone and shovels a pass over to Burrows for the easy tip in, but Alexandre just couldn’t get his stick on it to capitalize on the play. Midway through the period though, Burrows and Daniel connect to open the scoring thanks to Dan Hamhuis grabbing the puck along the boards and feeding it to Burrows who set up Daniel for a shot that beats Dubnyk over the shoulder. The Canucks open the scoring and take the 1-0 lead into the intermission. Having the lead is nice, but the one troubling stat that still flashes like a Vegas Casino sign is the shots on goal! For all the puck cycling and control by the Canucks, they are still failing to get shots on goal, as they were outshot 12-9 by the Oilers.

Two minutes into the second period, the Canucks have an opportunity to extend the lead by going on the power play thanks to Eric Belanger taking a hooking penalty. But the Canucks can only muster one shot on goal during the man advantage and two near misses! Sami Salo lets his howitzer shot go and it beat Dubnyk, but not the post! On the same play, Cody Hodgson tried a wrap around attempt into the open side of the net, but he too missed. For the number 1 power play team, the Canucks looked more dangerous 5 on 5! Midway through the period, Daniel and David Booth had another opportunity to extend the lead, but Booth couldn’t handle Daniel’s pass as he was breaking for the net. Moments later at 9:43, the Oilers wonder kid Taylor Hall made a beautiful pass across the crease to set up Shawn Horcoff who beat Luongo with an easy tip in shot to tie the game. Taylor showed great patience on the play waiting until Luongo was fully committed before making the pass to the open Horcoff at the side of the net. With 20 seconds left, Kevin Bieksa sprung Jannik Hansen with a stretch pass to put Jannik in alone on Dubnyk, but again couldn’t beat the post! Hansen’s shot was stopped just enough by Dubnyk to allow the puck to slowly trickle towards the goal line and come to a stop next to the post! It’s true what they say is the goal post is the goalie’s best friend, and tonight Devin had his two “besties” working for him! Again, the Oilers outshot the Canucks 9-7 to continue the disturbing trend.

David Booth picked up in the third period where Jannik Hansen left off in the second by hitting iron instead of mesh 6 seconds into the period. Damn iron! Booth got a second chance 5 minutes later and made no mistake this time as he was following the play and was rewarded with the go ahead goal. With Higgins and Kesler breaking into the zone, Kesler’s tip-in attempt from Higgins was stopped by Dubnyk initially but he couldn’t find it after the stop. David Booth was able to get his stick on it and sweep it into the net behind Dubnyk to make the score 2-1.

Midway through the period, both teams seemed to open it up and lay it all on the line as they both had excellent scoring opportunities at both ends of the ice, but Luongo and Dubnyk were both up to the challenge making some excellent saves. It wasn’t until Dan Hamhuis took an interference penalty at 14:58 that Edmonton finally got a crack on the power play, and it didn’t take them long to get set up and tie the score. Taylor Hall redirects a Corey Potter blast from the blueline to beat Luongo and tie the game up with less than 5 minutes left in regulation.

The resulting overtime frame was almost more exciting than the entire first 60 minutes as the action was fierce on both ends of the ice, but despite the scoring opportunities by both teams, the respective goaltenders seemed intent on settling this game in the shootout. Wait, what? Not the dreaded shootout for the Canucks! Luongo sucks in shootouts, right? Not tonight. It took 5 rounds, but Luongo was able to stop all but shooter to get the win for the Canucks. Edler scored in the first round and Cody Hodgson sealed the victory in the fifth by beating Dubnyk through the 5-hole. Ales Hemsky was the only shooter to beat Luongo.

So the Canucks pull off a win against the Oilers who battled hard and had a long night last night as they took their game with the Sharks to the shootout as well. In reality this game shouldn’t have been this close if the Canucks were able to capitalize on their puck control skills and shoot the puck a little more. It’s exciting to watch them control and cycle the puck in the offensive zone, but it would be a whole lot more exciting to see them shoot the puck more often when the opportunity presents itself, because it is putting the puck in the net that wins games after all.

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