Usually emotionally charged events, the Canucks faced off against division rivals Friday night at Rogers Arena, but weren’t able to deliver and dropped the game 3-1.
It certainly wasn’t the type of play you would expect from the Canucks when they're hosting the Flames – their previous two meetings this season were action packed with the teams combining for 12 goals.
The match-up started off with a bang as Kevin Bieksa and Tom Kostopoulos dropped gloves three seconds in. But the promise of an intense pace didn’t translate for the Canucks throughout the first 40 minutes.
“We were just terrible, there’s no other way to put it,” said Alain Vigneault. “Playing against the Calgary Flames, one of our best rivals in hockey, we've got to be able to get up for this.”
The game remained scoreless heading into the final frame, but only because of Roberto Luongo, who stood tall in net.
Flames forward Curtis Glencross struck early in the third, before Mikael Backlund put the visiting squad up 2-0 at 14:08.
A late surge brought the Canucks within one when Dan Hamhuis, from Bieksa and Cody Hodgson, found the back of the Flames net with a wrist shot at 16:59 in the third.
The Canucks continued to press, closing the shots gap but weren’t able to get anything else past Leland Irving, the Flames young goaltender, who was starting in his second career NHL game.
The hope of mounting a late comeback was crushed by Olli Jokinen who potted an empty netter and effectively put the game out of reach.
Despite playing the second of back-to-back games, the Flames came out with energy and peppered Luongo early, sustaining pressure with 24 shots in the first two periods. Continuing to exhibit vintage Luongo form, the Canucks netminder was sharp and focused, fending off the attacking Flames.
Having hit his stride, Luongo headed into the game with a 7-0-1 record in his last eight, during which he had only allowed nine goals. By the end of the night he'd stopped 28 of 30 shots for a .933 save percentage. Unfortunately he didn’t receive much support from his teammates tonight.
“I’ve seen this group battle back from [being outplayed] before, I’ve seen our goaltenders keep us in it to help us find our legs and find our execution and our hands, that’s certainly what our goaltender did for 57 minutes tonight," added Vigneault.
Both teams entered the night coming off wins against Minnesota and Detroit, and the Canucks were in the position to move into the top spot in the Northwest Division.
“In [the locker room] everyone was ready and then we come out and have a first period like that or first ten minutes at least where they out-shoot us badly and outwork us too, so it’s unacceptable,” said Daniel Sedin.
Henrik “Ironman” Sedin
Tonight was another milestone for Henrik Sedin who played in his 534th consecutive game, and in doing so tied the Canucks franchise ironman record. The Canucks Captain pulled inline with former teammate Brendan Morrison – who laced up for the Flames tonight.
A record he has been cultivating since March 21, 2004, the impressive feat was a reminder that Henrik has the toughness and stength to match his offensive skill.
Henrik now sits behind only Flames D-man Jay Bouwmeester, who holds the longest active ironman record with 542.