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Canucks are awesome at home

Friday, 01.04.2008 / 8:59 AM / Game-Day Skate

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Rangers outshot the Canucks 28-19, but became Roberto Luongo’s sixth shutout victim at GM Place.
No place like home — The New York Rangers are the latest team to find out that the Vancouver Canucks have become terrors at home, thanks to Roberto Luongo.

The Rangers outshot the Canucks 28-19, but became Luongo’s sixth shutout victim at GM Place since Nov. 9 when Vancouver won 3-0.

"I have been feeling good and the guys have been playing great in front of me," Luongo said after the Canucks improved to 11-0-2 in their last 13 home games, a span in which they’ve surrendered only 11 goals. "We have played especially great at home in front of our fans and it's one of those things where we have confidence at home and things are going our way."

Welcome back — Michael Peca has made his living as a checker; he’s a two-time Selke Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defensive forward. But it was his goal-scoring ability that made the difference for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Peca, returning after missing five games with a sore neck and headaches following a collision with Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis, scored twice in the Jackets’ 4-3 win at Los Angeles.

”You feel like you're letting your team down when you're not in the lineup, so you want to come back and do whatever you can to contribute and help the team win,” said Peca, who got his 31st career game-winning goal.

Another veteran center, Sergei Fedorov, was glad to have him back.

”Michael's an experienced guy, he's very good on faceoffs, he's defensive-minded player, and he even scored a couple of goals for us,” Fedorov said.

Cullimore

Mr. Clutch -- Perhaps it was appropriate that Jassen Cullimore’s postgame attire included a blue cape after he rescued the Florida Panthers.

Cullimore scored his first goal of the season 1:33 into overtime to give the Panthers a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders in a game that saw Florida blow three leads and barely get into overtime.

It was Cullimore’s 22nd career goal. But seven have been game-winners.

"I make them count, don't I?" Cullimore said. "I didn't know it was in. The red light never came on, though the referee pointed. I didn't want to celebrate too soon. I wanted to make sure."

Home blues -- The San Jose Sharks have been terrific on the road. But winning at home continues to be a problem. Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary left the Sharks with a 6-9-4 record at HP Pavilion, the second-worst mark in the NHL.

But at least one Shark isn’t worried about his team’s lack of success at home.

“That stat has bothered a lot of people,” goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said. “But as long as you keep playing well and keep going. The home season will turn around.”

Ready when needed -- Mikael Tellqvist has been Phoenix’s version of the Maytag repairman over the past few weeks – he’s played just once in 19 games after the Coyotes acquired Ilya Bryzgalov in mid-November to bolster their goaltending. That’s why he savored the rare chance to play Thursday night, and he made the most of it, stopping 25 shots in the Coyotes’ 4-2 win over Chicago.

"I'm glad to contribute to this team and try and win games," Tellqvist said. "There's always a little rust and it's so different practicing than playing in games. Obviously you want to play games, but you have to stay professional."

Being a backup seems to agree with Tellqvist; he’s 2-0 since being relegated to the backup role. He won his other start, at New Jersey on Dec. 15.

"Tellqvist was outstanding when he had to be," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It was great to see him do what he did because he is well-liked on the team and works hard every day."

Chara

The Mark of Z -- Boston coach Claude Julien would have been ecstatic just to have defenseman Zdeno Chara shut down Alex Ovechkin. Having him outscore Washington’s superstar was a bonus. But that’s what happened in Boston’s 2-0 win Thursday night: Chara had a power-play goal and Ovechkin was held scoreless for the first time in eight games.

“You see what ‘Z’ does for us back there," Julien said. "We're always pairing him up against guys like Ovechkin."

Chara played 26:53, most of it when Ovechkin was on the ice, as the Bruins won their second straight game after losing six in a row.

Finding the range -- It’s been a miserable season for Montreal’s Michael Ryder, who scored 30 goals last season but had lost his touch so badly that he went pointless during an 18-game stretch that saw him scratched five times. But a change in sticks has helped him rediscover his scoring touch.

Ryder, who broke a 14-game goalless drought Dec. 28 against Florida, now has three goals in his last three games after getting two in Thursday’s 6-3 win over Tampa Bay.

"It was a tough time and it was really hard to deal with," said Ryder, who now has six goals for the season after consecutive 30-goal campaigns for Montreal. "But I had to stay confident and keep working hard.”

A little knowledge… --

Goalies will take an edge they can find when facing a penalty shot. Nashville’s Dan Ellis used his memories of playing with Kyle Brodziak when he prepared to face the Edmonton forward one-on-one after Brodziak was awarded a penalty shot in Thursday night’s game.

“I had played with Kyle in Iowa,” Ellis said. “We always used to do breakaways and stuff, and kind of forgot what his moves were. I had a couple of problems handling his shots early in the game, but he made the same move on the first breakaway he was taken down on. I just followed him across.”

It worked: Ellis stopped the penalty shot and finished with 26 saves in the 5-2 win.

Gill

Three and out -- Pittsburgh scored three times in 48 seconds early in the third period to turn a 2-1 lead into a 5-1 margin on the way to a 6-2 victory over Toronto. Watching a close game turn into a rout in the span of less than a minute left Leafs’ defenseman Hal Gill less than enthused.

"An outburst like that shouldn't happen," Gill said. "We should get fired up after they score a goal and go back at it, but that didn't happen. We were controlling the tempo, but then we slacked off and they got comfortable and they got the momentum."

Tyler Kennedy, Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora scored during the spurt. Malkin went on to complete his first NHL hat trick.

Playing short -- Maybe Minnesota Wild should give Marian Gaborik more ice time as a penalty-killer.

Gaborik took a rare turn on the PK unit Thursday night and scored a shorthanded goal that started the Wild on the way to a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Gaborik opened the scoring when he tipped the puck past defenseman Trevor Daley and outraced him to the net to score on a breakaway.

"I don't usually play short-handed," Gaborik said. "It was good to get out there. It felt good to get on the ice in that situation and hopefully I will see ice there even more."

 

Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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