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A sour finish

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Since the NHL took away ties and implemented shootouts prior to the 2005-06 season, there hasn’t been much use for the saying ‘a tie is like kissing your sister,’ in reference to the unpopularity of draws.

Sports scribes everywhere used the pucker up antic like it was going out of style back in the day, but now it’s rarely, if ever, used.

No time like the present to resurrect a classic.

Vancouver gained a point in losing 4-3 to Anaheim in overtime on Wednesday, but gave up an embarrassing game-winner and in the process laid a wet one on its hopes for a split of this two-game Californian swing.

Tied 3-3 through sixty minutes of play, the Canucks and Ducks each charged into overtime with something to prove.

For Vancouver the golden goal meant it was back on track after a shaky game in Los Angeles on Monday, while Anaheim needed the score to help keep its playoff hopes alive.

The do-or-die session started fast and furious with a Henrik Sedin shot off a nifty spin-o-rama in front of the Ducks goal floating just wide, from there Mattias Ohlund made an ill advised play dropping the puck for Pavol Demitra in the neutral zone. Demitra missed it and was forced to take a hooking penalty to prevent Anaheim from having numbers headed the other way.

The Canucks cleared the zone with ease on two occasions and were gritting out the penalty when Teemu Selanne was sent to the box for holding. That set up a rare 3-on-3 scenario and eventually a brief 34-second Vancouver power play should Demitra get back on the ice.

The glory of watching pond hockey at the highest level around was cut short when Chris Pronger dug the puck away from Kevin Bieksa along the boards in the Anaheim zone, Daniel Sedin was pinching up and got caught in no-man’s land when Pronger hit Scott Niedermayer with a pass just behind the Ducks blueline.

Niedermayer turned on the jets as he skated in on a breakaway and despite Daniel doing his best to get back and help Roberto Luongo, the Anaheim captain beat Lui blocker side for the overtime game-winner.

Like I said, kissing your sister rings true here as that was the last way Vancouver wanted this game to end.

“It’s disappointing,” said a disgruntled Ryan Kesler, who sent the game to overtime with a third period goal, his 20th of the season.

“I think we got a little too excited about the power play at the end of the period and gave up a breakaway. It’s a tough one, it’s a really tough one to take. We battled back hard and to give up a goal like that in overtime is heartbreaking.”

Even though the Canucks roared out of the gates for the second straight game, they once again found themselves trailing after the first period of play.

The Ducks took a 2-0 lead 6:26 into the second period and maintained control of the game until Alex Burrows potted another timely goal when he tipped a Kevin Bieksa point shot past Jonas Hiller.

Fifty seconds later Vancouver tied things up in unthinkable fashion when Kyle Wellwood scored his first goal of the season – sorry, it’s his 15th, it just felt like his first.

Wellwood had gone 21 games without finding the scoresheet and even he had to look twice to ensure the puck actually crossed the line after he took a speedy pass from Pavol Demitra and one-timed a shot on net from in close.

Hiller squeezed his pads with all his might, but thankfully the red light went on.

“I felt really fortunate that I got a goal tonight, it kind of slipped through his legs and it’s one that I’ll take,” said a relieved Wellwood.

“I saw it go between his legs and at that point you just hope that it ends up going over the line and when Pavol put his hands up, I knew it was in.”

Petteri Nokelainen had the Ducks back in front before Kesler sent the game to overtime late in the third, and although the Canucks came up short, the point they collected is a big one.

Vancouver is now three points up on sixth place Columbus and seven clear of ninth place Minnesota.

“Every point is important, especially this point,” said Kesler.

“Every game you want to get the two points and that’s the most important thing and we didn’t get that tonight. That’s not good enough and we’re not happy.”

A second consecutive loss for the Canucks will have everyone up in arms until they try to right the ship Friday night versus Los Angeles, but it’s becoming very obvious what needs improving.

Vancouver’s power play was a paltry 0-for-5 on the night to finish at 0-for-9 in the last two games and is 4-for-38 in the last eight games.

“Obviously our power play needs to be better and we need that to start winning us games,” added Kesler. “And once we get that going we’re going to be a scary team again.”

Even more worrisome than the poor special teams performances is that the Canucks are playing down to their competition instead of taking it to them like they did the San Jose Sharks last Saturday.

When you factor in that 13 of Vancouver’s remaining 16 games are against Western Conference teams not currently holding down a playoff spot, it’s clear that scary team is needed now more than ever.

0 Good luck the 13 moms brought the Canucks as they tagged along on this road trip

-6 Combined rating of Daniel and Henrik Sedin

– Goal for Kyle Wellwood, ending a 21-game drought

  20/20 – Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler both hit the 20 goal mark this game

39 Saves for Roberto Luongo his second straight loss between the pipes

At one point in the first period shots were 13-3 for the Canucks as they dominated play.

The Ducks struck first and Vancouver's offence played catch up from there; the Canucks never led in this game.

Kudos to Vancouver for forcing overtime, but any finish at all and this should have been either a regulation or overtime win.

Anaheim outshot Vancouver 41-35.

Three defenders were in the minus when the smoke cleared as the back end was less than stellar.

The overtime winner aside, two of Anaheim's three regulation goals were preventable.

Roberto Luongo stormed off the ice in a fit of rage after the game, a clear indication of how satisfied he was with his performance, even though he stopped 39 shots in all.

At least Anaheim was just as bad.

That's really the only thing that can be said because with the Canucks going 0-for-5 on the power play, the Ducks would have been in control if they would have converted on even one of their six chances.

Vancouver is now 4-for-38 on the power play in its last eight games.
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