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Canucks battle back for a 3-2 OT win in Colorado
Jon Foxall

Canucks battle back for a 3-2 OT win in Colorado
The Canucks are finding ways to score without Daniel, and Mason is providing that spark.

Vancouver - March 26, 2012 - The Vancouver Canucks entered Colorado for the second straight game without their leading scorer in the lineup to take on the playoff desperate Colorado Avalanche in what ended up being a 65 minute duel of will. And after a shaky start to the game for the Canucks as they went down a goal just over a minute into the period, they battled back to eventually defeat the Avalanche for the fifth straight time.

The win was a good one for the Canucks as they proved that even though they were badly out hustled by the young and spunky Avalanche squad for a period and a half, and being down by a 2 goal deficit, that they can regroup to work their way out of a jam and work together as a team to pull out a victory. The loss was not so good for the Avalanche as it pretty much sealed their fate of not making the playoffs this year.

Everybody knew the Avalanche were going to come out with all guns blazing in tonight’s game as if their season depended on it, and they did their best. But what wasn’t expected was how the Canucks were going to give them a hand in their quest by playing some sloppy, penalty ridden hockey early on. Just 36 seconds into the game, the Canucks botched a line change which resulted in a too many men on the ice penalty, and it was just the break the Av’s needed to fuel their fire as Gabriel Landeskog slipped the puck past a sprawled Luongo as the Canucks D were taking a little nap around the rebound.

Even though the Avalanche scored early, and had the obvious jump in their game, out hustling and playing the Canucks at every turn, they were unable to capitalize by scoring often due to the fact that Roberto Luongo was on his game in a big way tonight, stopping 38 of the 40 shots directed his way. Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov had a little easier night thanks to his team blocking the majority of shots in front of him. During a Canucks 5 on 3 power play for 1:15 in the first period, the Canucks were only able to get the rubber through to Varlamov 3 times as the Av defenders were blocking shots left, right and center in front of the goalie.

But as normally happens, things got worse for the Canucks before they got better, and at 8:59 of the second period the Avalanche gave the Canucks a much needed wake up call when Varlamov saw the Canucks on line change and fired a long lead out pass to Peter Stastny who was standing at the Canucks blue line all by himself. By the time the Canucks knew what was happening, the puck was on Jaimie McGinn’s stick who was streaking in on Luongo down the middle of the ice and he was able to beat Roberto on the low right side. The Canucks found themselves down 2 goals to a desperate hockey team, and instead of mailing the rest of the night in, they rallied and started to take the game back. It wasn’t long before the Canuck bus was rolling again and the recently rejuvenated Mason Raymond provided the spark as he scored on the power play at 15:55 to cut the Av’s lead in half with a wrist shot from the left face off dot to beat Varlamov high shoulder. The word must have got out about Varlamov’s Achilles because 1:35 later Chris Higgins scores the exact same type of goal except from the right side this time as he roofed the puck over Varlamov’s left shoulder from the right face off dot to tie the game at 2.

With no scoring in the third period the game needed overtime to be decided. And as opposed to the third period which saw the Avalanche outshoot the Canucks 12-9, the visitors only needed one shot to put this away, and it was a beauty of a play by Jannik Hansen that made it all happen. With just over a minute gone in the extra period, Jannik out hustled the Av defender behind Varlamov’s net and passed it out to a waiting Chris Higgins out front who wired a wrist shot 5-hole through Semyon to get the win for the Canucks in overtime.

The game didn’t start out pretty for the Canucks, but it ended in 5-Star fashion as the Canucks showed their tenacity and ability to regroup as a team and overcome a two goal deficit to defeat a team that was playing for their season. Yes, the Avalanche played well, and on most nights well enough to get the win. But tonight the Canucks needed this win more for morale purposes than for points, as they proved that even though their top goal scorer, and pivotal cog in the Canucks machine, was out of the lineup, that they could still find ways to fill the opponent’s net with pucks. The one player who has really stepped up his game and is making a difference is Mason Raymond as he continues to show that he can be “the go-to guy” when the team needs him the most.

So with their shiny new North West Division Title in hand the Canucks now travel home to face another team that is precariously on the edge of not making the playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

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