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Schneider almost perfect in Dallas, leads Canucks to victory
Jon Foxall

Schneider almost perfect in Dallas, leads Canucks to victory
Mason Raymond is back in a big way after being scratched, and he is again making a difference for the Canucks.

Vancouver - March 23, 2012 - The Vancouver Canucks rolled into Dallas to take on the Stars without their leading scorer and played a perfect road game to earn a 2-1 win against a home team desperate for points. The Canucks played an edgy, gritty style of hockey after last night’s hard loss in Chicago to prove that even with a major piece of the team not in the lineup, they can still be a force to be reckoned with, and goalie Cory Schneider backed up the statement with a fantastic effort stopping 25 of 26 shots.

Aside from Schneider’s mental gaffe in the third period which resulted in the Stars’ Vern Fiddler nullifying Ginger’s shutout bid, full props go to Mason Raymond who has played his last two games since being a healthy scratch like a player on a mission. Raymond not only scored the Canucks first goal early in the opening period, but he assisted on Kevin Bieksa’s goal early in the third, which turned out to be the winner, and ended up logging over 18 minutes of ice time for his efforts tonight. I think the sit down two games ago made the point and he has decided to come back in the lineup and be a major contributor to the team down the stretch, and he proved it again tonight.

Henrik Sedin also made a case for his prowess as being the league’s premier setup man tonight as he also assisted on both goals. But his nicest play of the night came on Bieksa’s goal in the third as he made a soft pass between the Stars defender’s legs to Mason Raymond who then set up Bieksa for a shot on Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen made the initial stop, but the rebound came back to Bieksa who slid the puck around the sprawled Lehtonen to put the Canucks up 2-0. Mason’s opening goal came from a Henrik pass from the point to Raymond standing outside the blue paint who then wristed the puck into the open net. It was a perfect pass from Henrik, and it ended up being a perfect way for the Canucks to start the game, with a 1-0 lead 5 minutes in.

Ginger Jesus played a strong game until 7:44 of the third period when on a shoot in by Vern Fiddler, he elected to come out and play the puck at the side of the net instead of leaving it for Aaron Rome who was racing Fiddler for position on the puck. Schneider ended up botching the play, and the puck squirted out in front of the net, where Fiddler tapped in the loose puck to get the Stars on the board. And actually, Schneider may have put the puck into the net with his stick as he was trying to clear it, but that is neither here nor there, as the Canucks ended up hanging on for the win. But the win didn’t come without a few nail biting moments, especially with 45 seconds left in the game and Lehtonen sitting on the bench for the extra attacker for the Stars, when Kevin Bieksa decides to take a high sticking penalty in front of his own net. How many times have seen Bieksa take an unnecessary penalty late in a game? Bieksa also hooked Mike Ribeiro on a breakaway midway through the second period, which resulted in a penalty shot for the Stars. But thanks to Schneider, and Ribeiro’s goofy penalty shot attempt, the Stars were kept off the score board, so ultimately Bieksa was spared the scrutiny of Canuck Nation for his ill-timed penalties.

The Canucks weren’t dominating in this game, but they did prove to be suffocating for the home team, and they even took a page out of the Chicago Blackhawks playbook by getting under the Stars skin causing them to draw bad penalties. And this was apparent in the second period as the Canucks had 3 power play opportunities in succession thanks to the Stars showing their frustration in a 5 minute span, with Mike Ribeiro getting two back to back penalties.

Maybe, just maybe the game in Chicago is just what the Canucks needed to break them out of their lethargic slump and get them back on track. We’ll see on Saturday night as they travel to Colorado to take on another team desperate for a playoff spot, the Avalanche.

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