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Another shootout win for Luongo as Canucks down Preds
For the third straight game, the Vancouver Canucks needed to go into the shootout to decide the winner, and 2 out of those three times Roberto Luongo has emerged the victorious goaltender. In fact, the Canucks last 5 games have all needed either overtime or a shootout to decide the winner, and they have gone 4-5 in that span with Luongo playing all but one of the games.
Vancouver - February 8, 2012 - For the third straight game, the Vancouver Canucks needed to go into the shootout to decide the winner, and 2 out of those three times Roberto Luongo has emerged the victorious goaltender. Luongo really must be practicing the shootout skill because he has been much better on the one on one drill lately. In fact, the Canucks last 5 games have all needed either overtime or a shootout to decide the winner, and they have gone 4-5 in that span with Luongo playing all but one of the games. The only loss came at the hands of the Red Wings last Thursday as they lost in OT 4-3. So out of a possible 10 points, the Canucks have skated away with 9, which isn’t bad at all.
What is bad though is the developing trend of the Canucks being outshot by their opponents, and tonight’s game was no different as the shot clock was 40-31 in favor of the Predators. Granted, tonight’s differential was better than the last two games (43-25 & 46-29) but it is still worth noting that the Canucks seem to be spending a lot of time in their own end lately and relying on their goaltender to keep them in the game. Some trends are good, some are bad, and the shots against are definitely bad.
On the good side though, it was the second straight game that Ryan Kesler opened the scoring for the Canucks as took a setup pass from Burrows and one-timed a wrist shot past netminder Pekka Rinne midway through the first period on a power play. Two minutes later though, Colin Wilson tied the game with a sharp angled shot that Luongo misjudged and didn’t get all of the puck as it skirted over his left arm. It was a shot Luongo should have stopped, but he obviously wasn’t ready for it.
The starting lineups for the game were Daniel, Kesler, and Burrows on the first line and Byron Bitz, Henrik and Raymond on the second, an obvious experiment by Coach V to light a fire under the Sedins’ back sides. The experiment lasted all of 10 minutes as midway through the period, Burrows was again reunited with the twins, but not for long as newcomer Byron Bitz made the most of his time with the Sedins. With the score tied 1-1, Henrik Sedin made a drop pass to Bitz who was trailing on the play and blasted a shot past Rinne from the right hand face off circle to put the Canucks up 2-1. Then as a thank you gesture, he then set up Daniel with a pass out front where Daniel beat Rinne with a one timer up close to put the Canucks up 3-1. Usually it Burrows who connects with the Sedins for the scoring opportunities, but Bitz proved that in a pinch, he could skate and pass with the best of the best as well!
The Canucks looked as though they were going to break another disturbing trend of late, and that is having a poor second period, but they started the middle frame with a renewed energy and it looked as though they might just continue the first period’s intensity. But the key word here is “started,” because just over 4 minutes into the period, it was all Predators, with a little help from Luongo as well. From the Canucks blue line, Predators Kevin Klein intentionally slapped a shot wide of the goal which was deflected past Luongo off Sergei Kostitsyn’s skate in front of the net. I know the coach draws this play Up on the board, but it will never cease to amaze me how some players always manage to make this shot look like a designed play, when in actuality there is a lot of luck involved as everything needs to be lined up perfectly for it to work. And Kostitsyn made sure he was lined up for the shot, to pull the Predators within a goal. Just over a minute later, Luongo had a mental lapse as he helped the Predators tie the score by actually scoring on himself by inadvertently kicking the puck into his own net. On the initial shot, a wrister from Shea Weber which was tipped by Mike Fisher and originally stopped by Luongo, and if he hadn’t of moved after stopping the shot the play would have been called dead. But he lost track of the puck after making the stop, and instead of staying still to freeze the play, he kicked out his right pad thinking the puck was outside on his right side, when in actuality it was on the inside of his right pad. When he kicked his leg out and brought it back in, the puck squirted out from between his legs and into the net. There is one saying I hate hearing the commentators make, and that is “the goalie would like to have that goal back,” and in this case they would be right! Luongo’s mental lapse tied the score 3-3 and the period was barely 5 minutes old.
Luongo made up for his gaffe 3 minutes later with Aaron Rome sitting in the penalty box for a delay of game penalty, as the Predators were throwing everything at the Canuck net and Luongo was standing tall, including making an amazing left pad save when he was down and out of the play. Luck or skill? maybe a little of both, but when a goalie throws his pad up in the air to desperately stop a shot, and the puck hits it and stays out, I guess it doesn’t matter does it?
The third period saw both teams applying good pressure in the offensive zone, but both goalies were up to it, especially Rinne who absolutely robbed Keith Ballard early in the period by making a desperation, sprawling save. In a rare occurrence, the Canucks actually outshot the Predators in the third period by a total of 12-9. The third period as well as overtime couldn’t decide the winner, so it was off to a shootout again for the Canucks. Alexandre Burrows scored for the Canucks first in the third round with a backhand deke over Rinne’s glove side. The Predators David Legwand then scored on Luongo with an identical shot, beating Luongo over the left pad. Round four saw Daniel Sedin in a rare shootout appearance beat Rinne, but not the post. And the same thing for Cody Hodgson in round 5 when he hit the post as well. It took Alexandre Edler in the sixth round to beat Rinne 5-hole to give the Canucks the edge in the shootout. The last shooter, Predators Colin Wilson also beat Luongo 5-hole, but instead of going into the net, the puck sailed through the crease to end the shootout and give the Canucks the extra point.
The Canucks travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild on Thursday night. Let’s see if the Canucks can get back in their groove for this game and avoid another close scoring game and instead have a blowout laugher at he Wild’s expense.
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