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22 days later

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
There was a time not too long ago, oh, let’s say 22 days ago, when the Vancouver Canucks wouldn’t have been able to pull off a comeback win like that.

They couldn’t pull it off in fact.

Vancouver mustered all the third period offence it could in a 3-2 loss to Detroit on November 2, the game-tying goal just wasn’t in the cards.

Monday night at GM Place it was, with Daniel Sedin’s late game equalizer serving as the ace up the Canucks’ sleeve.

Daniel’s 10th goal of the season and 400th career NHL point came with just 2:25 to play in the third period and it was the adrenalin shot Vancouver needed on their way to a well-deserved 3-2 overtime win.

Sami Salo was the hero in extra time; the puck he rocketed past Detroit’s Chris Osgood from the left face-off circle is still steaming and too hot to touch.

A home ice win is big anytime, but when it’s of the comeback variety against the defending Stanley Cup champions without having the services of your starting goaltender, it’s bittersweet.

“It shows that we can battle through adversity because we’re dealing with it head on right now,” said Canucks goaltender Curtis Sanford, who replaced Roberto Luongo in net.

Sanford was the backbone of Vancouver’s fourth straight win and the reason the Canucks now have points in 10 consecutive games, as the back-up turned starter was phenomenal in recording his third straight win.

Sandman was peppered early on as Detroit came out the gates with steam, he turned aside all he could before Detroit got one past him.

It was much of the same in the second period except Sanford was able to stop all 11 shots he faced.

Detroit didn’t score again until they took a 2-1 lead with 3:35 to play in the third period, but Sanford stayed focused and made a few saves late to enable a Vancouver comeback.

He finished the night with 32 saves in all and at least half of the shots he faced were quality scoring opportunities from the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa and Nicklas Lidstrom.

“I felt good,” said Sanford. “The two goals I was just off a little bit, they found a way to get in. Other than that I felt composed, I felt confidant out there and I felt like I was moving well.”

Also moving well against the Red Wings was struggling forward Taylor Pyatt.

The left-winger, who had only two goals on the season coming in, was responsible for Vancouver’s first score of the game, his third point in the last four games.

Detroit’s Jiri Hudler took possession of the puck in the Wings' zone and was wheeling to mount an attack before Pyatt simply used his long reach to knock the puck away. He stayed with the play and as the puck floated out in front of Osgood, he stepped up and snapped it in.

Proof that he isn’t used to scoring this season came when he did a double take to ensure the puck actually went in.

“At first I was pretty sure it went in, but it came out so quick that I hesitated and thought ‘oh, no, did that just hit the post and come out?’ I was pretty sure it went in though,” laughed Pyatt.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle for me through the first part of the season, but it was good to get one today and I just tried to do a good job on the penalty kill and contribute however I can.”

The confidence the Canucks displayed in coming from behind to beat the Central Division leading Red Wings was impressive, but it doesn’t compare to the discipline Vancouver demonstrated in only taking three minor penalties on the night.

Detroit sat first in the league with a 32.9 per cent succession rate while on the power play coming into the game, so playing lazy hockey wasn’t an option for Vancouver.

“You can’t take penalties against that team over there, they’re too skilled,” said Willie Mitchell, acknowledging that he took a dumb penalty against the Wings when they were last in town.

Staying disciplined was the difference in beating Detroit this time around.

“Disciplined is a broad term, people think it’s just staying out of the penalty box, yeah that’s number one, but disciplined within our system in a sense of not trying to do too much,” add Mitchell.

“We did that against Pittsburgh, we did that against Minnesota and we did that here tonight. Good teams have to be disciplined with how they play and not try and do too much, that’s what we’re doing and we’re getting results.”

The last time Vancouver had results like this was during the 2002-03 season when the team set a franchise record for points in consecutive games by going 14 contests with at least a point in each.

It’s still a ways off, but that record looks to be in jeopardy, especially if the Canucks can continue to pull off character building wins like this one.

2 – Game-winning goals for Sami Salo this year

10 – Consecutive games the Canucks have recorded at least a point (8-0-2)

12 Wins this season for Vancouver when allowing three goals or less (12-2-2)

32 – Saves for Curtis Sanford in his third straight win

401 – Career points for Daniel Sedin after a goal and an assist against Detroit

Nine shots through two periods wasn't what the Canucks wanted, but throwing eight at the Red Wings in overtime more than made up for it.

The Canucks weren't without chances on offence, a combination of Osgood and a lack of finish kept the team from ending this game sooner.

Daniel Sedin continued his scorching play with two points; he has nine points in his last six games.

Shutting down Detroit's snipers is pretty much impossible, although limiting their chances isn't.

The big guns of the Red Wings accounted for both their goals so the Canucks lapsed here and there, but they were solid overall.

The unit recorded 16 blocked shots in helping keep pucks from Curtis Sanford. He was also stellar with 32 saves.

The Canucks knew how important it was to play disciplined hockey and they did just that.

Vancouver took only three minor penalties; Detroit converted on one of them.

The Red Wngs also went to the box on three occassions; the Canucks made them pay once.
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