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Canucks drop season opener

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 5-3 loss to Calgary.

Dion Phaneuf scored an empty net goal with 1:03 remaining in regulation to ice this game. Up until he got the puck at centre ice, took a few strides and ripped a slap shot into the empty net, Vancouver was in this game pushing for the tying goal.

The Canucks trailed 4-1 midway through the second period before back-to-back goals cut the Flames lead to one. Vancouver threw everything it could at Miikka Kiprusoff in the third outshooting Calgary 21-7, but it simply wasn’t enough.

Alex Burrows was dormant through two periods before coming to life early in the final frame.

The feisty winger, who skated alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin, scored his first goal of the season on a hardnosed effort just :41 seconds into third to rejuvenate the visitors.

Burrows finished with the lone goal, a plus-one rating, two penalty minutes and was tied for the team high in shots with four in 17:24 of ice time.

The Burrows goal that brought the Canucks to within a score was a true team effort. After Henrik Sedin was robbed by Kiprusoff at the side of the goal, Burrows grabbed his hatchet and chipped away at the loose puck. It eventually squirted free and ended up on the stick of Willie Mitchell, who let a point shot fly. Kiprusoff made that save as well, but he couldn’t control the rebound and Burrows was able to sneak the puck under the flopping netminder.

They don’t get much greasier than that.

By picking up the first assist on Kevin Bieksa’s power play goal early in the second period, Henrik Sedin has now been in on Vancouver’s season opening goal for the past two seasons.

Last year Hank, who was recently named an assistant captain, scored the first goal of the season for the Canucks in a 6-0 win over the Flames.

Henrik did more than pick up an assist on this night though; he led all forwards in ice time with 28 shifts and 19:27 of ice time, had three shots, two takeaways, a blocked shot and was 14-of-21 on faceoffs.

Roberto Luongo gave up four goals on 15 shots before stopping the final eight he faced.

The Canucks netminder has allowed 11 goals in his last two games dating back to Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-finals in the 2008-09 playoffs.

Known as a slow starter, Luongo was rock solid in the third period. He was especially sharp late in the game making two straight glove saves, including a dandy on Daymond Langkow.

Willie Mitchell on Mikael Samuelsson’s first goal as a member of the Canucks, a clever tip off an Alex Edler pass that evaded Kiprusoff glove side:

“He’s a great pick up for us, he works hard, plays hard, plays more like a North American than a Swede, that’s for sure and goals like that we’re going to need from him all year if we want to get to where we want to be.”

The Colorado Avalanche were pegged by many as Northwest Division pushovers heading into this season, but in their first game of the year, on the night when Joe Sakic’s sweater was raised to the roof, the Avalanche walked over the powerhouse San Jose Sharks 5-2.

The Canucks travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche on Saturday. Game time is 12 p.m. PST.

NUMBERS

0 – Shots on goal by Vancouver's top two lines in the opening period.

2 – Straight season opening goals that Henrik Sedin has had a hand in scoring.

3 – Players who made their official Canucks debut against the Flames. That list includes Sergei Shirokov, Mikael Samuelsson and Christian Ehrhoff.

3 – Straight goals given up by Vancouver to start the game, two of them were power play scores.

16 – Shots Vancouver had midway through the third period, to Calgary's one.

OFFENCE

Like a slow moving semi, the Canucks putted their way through the first period with seven shots on goal, none from the top two lines.

They shifted gears in the second outscoring the Flames 2-1, and finally hit full stride in the third with a whopping 21 pucks on net, but only one goal to show for their efforts.

The offence showed up for half the game and the score is a reflection of that.

DEFENCE

Vancouver was caught flat-footed on the first three Calgary goals. Twice the Flames goal scorer walked around a Canucks player and on the other no Canuck covered the man floating in from the point.

It didn't help that Luongo was hardly himself to start the game, but it was good to see that as the defence and Luongo tightened up midway through the game, the Canucks took charge.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Vancouver was 2-for-4 on the power play off Kevin Bieksa and Mikael Samuelsson goals, while Calgary was one better going 2-for-3.

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