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Best of the Best: December

by Brady Trettenero / Vancouver Canucks
December is a month for giving and look at that, we're giving you the best of the month. The Canucks won five games last month and picked up points in seven of 11 games. Not too shabby - neither are the best of the best from December.

Vrbata Undresses Sens’ Anderson to Score a Beauty (12/07/14)

With the game scoreless nearing the halfway mark of the opening period, top-line winger Radim Vrbata got the scoring started at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. After taking a stretch pass from defenseman Ryan Stanton, Vrbata broke in on Senators’ veteran defenseman Chris Phillips. With Phillips closing in on the streaking Vrbata, the 33-year-old slowed down, glancing backwards to locate his teammates joining the rush, forcing Phillips to back off and obstruct the passing lane. Just as everyone thought Vrbata was about to pass, the former Coyote faked the shot, forcing Anderson to drop to his knees well outside of his crease. Once Anderson was down, Vrbata showed tremendous patience to outwait the goaltender and deke around him. The Sens’ goaltender was well out of position, allowing Vrbata to cut back in behind him and put the puck into the empty goal. Vrbata’s goal opened the scoring and helped the Canucks grab a point in a 4-3 shootout loss. Vrbata was impressive all night, collecting two points and recording eight shots on goal. The right-winger finished the month with four goals and eight points in 11 games.

Richardson Dishes to Matthias from Knees (12/04/14)

Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias showed some great chemistry throughout the month of December, with a shutout win over Pittsburgh being a prime example. After opening the scoring midway through the first period, Richardson was back at it halfway through the second frame. With the Canucks holding a 1-0 lead over the Penguins, Richardson hustled in on the forecheck. The third-line centre stripped the puck from Pens’ defenseman Simon Despres, but was then taken down as he tried to get away. Like that was going to stop him. As he was falling, Richardson dished a nifty backhand pass to a wide-open Shawn Matthias in front. Matthias made no mistake, firing the shot past the blocker of goaltender Thomas Greiss to put the Canucks up 2-0. It was Matthias’s sixth goal of the season, as he and Richardson combined for three goals, five points, eight shots on goal, and a plus-5 rating in the 3-0 win. The two forwards have a combined 15 goals this season, with their performance against Pittsburgh helping Vancouver to its 11th road victory.

Miller Robs Ducks’ Maroon (12/28/14)

Goaltender Ryan Miller was outstanding in an overtime loss to the Ducks, helping the Canucks salvage a point. One of his best saves came towards the end of the second period. With the Canucks leading 1-0, defenseman Lucas Sbisa was stripped of the puck behind the net by Anaheim forward Emerson Etem. Etem then dished a cross-crease pass to Patrick Maroon, who was denied point plank by a sliding Miller. It was just one of Miller’s 29 saves in the game, as the veteran goaltender bailed his team out on a night they were outshot 31-14. Miller finished the month of December on a strong note, posting a 3-0-1 record in his last four games, stopping an impressive 124 of 130 shots in that span (.954 save percentage).

Dorsett Drops the Mitts with Ducks’ Maroon (12/28/14)

With a game against Anaheim scoreless in the first period, Derek Dorsett engaged in a round of fisticuffs with Ducks’ forward Patrick Maroon. The fight broke out in the Canucks’ end after the two players were mixing up along the boards near the Vancouver bench. Both players landed a few good punches before the refs eventually broke up the tussle. With the fight, Dorsett joined Avalanche forward Cody McLeod atop the NHL fight list with eight on the season. While Dorsett has racked up 82 PIM this season, he’s also factored in on the offense. The 28-year-old tallied two goals and four points in the month of December, putting him on pace for the first 30-point season of his NHL career.

Lack Dances After Shutting Out Penguins (12/04/14)

After making 22 saves in a shutout win over the Penguins, Eddie Lack brought out the "Lack Dance" to celebrate. Lack was dominant in Pittsburgh, shutting down a high-flying offense featuring superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. With the win, Lack became the first Canucks’ goaltender in franchise history to deliver a shutout in Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old made four appearances in the month of December, posting a 1-1-0 record and stopping 103 of 108 shots. That’s reason to celebrate.

Tanev Joins Rush To Sink Flames in OT (12/20/14)

After dropping their previous five games, the Canucks were looking for a hero to snap them out of their losing skid. With a game against Calgary tied at two at the end of regulation, the Pacific Division rivals took to overtime to settle the score. Just 18 seconds into the extra frame, defenseman Chris Tanev played hero. After the Flames were caught up-ice following a rush, the Canucks gathered the puck and took off the other way. Alexander Edler sent a pass to Daniel Sedin, who immediately dished the puck to his brother. The twins broke in 2-on-1 towards the Flames goal, with a backchecking Mark Giordano doing a good job of taking the pass option away from the puck-carrier Henrik Sedin. With everyone focused on the twins, Tanev had quietly joined the rush, sneaking up behind the play. Instead of making a pass to Daniel, Henrik used his terrific vision to spot a wide-open Tanev in the high-slot. The 25-year-old blueliner took the pass, walked in, and wired a shot past Jonas Hiller, giving the Canucks their first victory in six games. Four of Tanev's 10 career goals have been game-winners, with two of those being overtime-winners. Talk about a clutch performer.

D.Sedin Ties Naslund for Most Power-Play Goals (12/02/14)

The Canucks kicked off December the right way with a 4-3 victory over the Capitals in Washington. With the scored tied 3-3 in the third period, top-line forward Daniel Sedin went to work once again. With one power-play goal already on the night, Sedin took a pass from his brother and walked in from the left circle. Daniel let go of a rare slapshot, blasting the puck past the stunned Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby, putting the Canucks up 4-3. With the power-play tally, Sedin became tied with Markus Naslund for most power-play goals in Canucks' franchise history with 114. His goal against Washington was also the game-winning goal, putting him at three game-winners on the season –14th most in the NHL. D.Sedin finished the month with four goals and 10 points in 11 games. His performance against the Capitals helped the Canucks get their first win of the month, as they would go on to post a 5-4-2 record in December.

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