The storylines going into the Vancouver Canucks’ game against the New York Rangers were infinite and in the end it was an unexpected source that trumped them all.
Led by a two goal performance from Alex Burrows, Vancouver’s offence stole the show as the Canucks routed the Rangers 6-3.
The unit had a paltry nine goals in the team’s last five games and Vancouver’s offence was anticipating a few headaches against the stingy Rangers, but that certainly wasn’t the case.
In the opening period scoring chances for the Canucks were as plentiful as yellow cabs on the streets of New York, and it all started with a bombardment of breakaways.
Sprung in all alone by Mattias Ohlund, Kyle Wellwood capitalized on Vancouver’s first chance with a swift deke that evaded Lundqvist just 4:16 into the game. Mason Raymond
, clearly inspired by Wellwood, stole the puck from Rangers d-man Wade Redden on the Canucks’ next shift and went in for another breakaway.
Everybody loves Raymond, but evidently not Lundqvist as he turned the puck aside.
Burrows decided to try his hand at the breakaway drill five minutes later with the Canucks on the penalty kill, and this time Lundqvist was helpless.
Burrows tucked it into the bottom left-hand corner to put the Canucks up a pair.
Reeling from being exposed to a higher dose of his recommended daily intake of breakaways, Lundqvist had no answer for Vancouver’s explosive offence.
Burrows scored his second goal of the game early in the second and Ryan Johnson added another, his first of the season, just 58 seconds later.
Signed, sealed and delivered, the Canucks mailed this game in from there, but not before Pavol Demitra scored on a five-on-three power play to chase Lundqvist from the New York net.
The funny part about it was that Rangers’ coach Tom Renney didn’t pull Lundqvist, ‘King Henrik’ yanked himself. Now that’s a feather in the cap of Vancouver’s offence.
“We played well, I think this was probably one of our better games played this year,” said Ohlund, who finished with a team-high three points, all assists, alongside a sparkling plus-4 rating.
“It’s great to get some goals from different guys and to help keep the goals down decently from their side.
“It was a big win for us, we didn’t play well enough against the Islanders so we wanted to come back and have a strong game and tonight we played pretty good.”
This is the first time the Canucks have scored more than four goals in a game since lighting up the Anaheim Ducks for six on Halloween night.
The offensive outbreak comes at a perfect time with the team having blown numerous high-percentage scoring opportunities in four of their last five games.
It was never a cause for concern for Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, he knew his team was due for a spate of goals.
“We’re getting a lot of quality chances and for the most part getting a lot of Grade-A chances,” said Vigneault. “We need to get our power play to get us that timely goal and I think with the talent that we have, we’ll be alright.”
Demitra’s fourth goal, and fifth point in his last three games, was the timely goal Vigneault wanted and it helped demoralize the Rangers five minutes into the second.
A solid third period for New York aided the team in salvaging some pride from the loss. The Rangers quietly beat Luongo twice in the middle frame, but the final twenty minutes was when the team finally awoke.
New York ripped 17 shots at Luongo in the third, scoring on him once. Captain Louie finished with 39 saves overall.
“He’s unbelievable, he’s the best goaltender in the league I think, he’s making big saves night after night for us,” said Burrows, adding that giving Luongo some offensive support is always important.
Former Canuck Markus Naslund helped his new team out with offensive support as he collected one assist on the night. No special treatement was thrown Naslund’s way though as former alliances were turfed once the puck dropped.
“You say hi to him off the draw, then it’s down to business,” said Ryan Kesler
, before the game.
The media hyped the Canucks renewing acquaintances with their friend and old captain, but it had no barring on Vancouver’s game plan.
“I’m going to be honest, it’s not that hard,” said Ohlund, when asked if he had trouble concentrating on the game with Naslund wearing Rangers’ colours.
“This game is way too hard to play if you’re thinking too much about whose out there or not. After the game we’ll have some fun and talk and hug it out.”
Hug it out they did, but not for long with Vancouver flying to Minnesota shortly after the game.
No more dwelling on facing Naslund, there's a game against the Wild on Thursday night to focus on.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” assessed Ohlund. “Over the years we’ve had some good battles with Minnesota and in their hometown too. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”