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Game 82: Ugly ending

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
An ugly season for the Vancouver Canucks came to an even uglier ending on Sunday night.

The Canucks concluded a disappointing 2013.14 campaign with a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena but the final score was hardly a concern in this game.

The only thing that really mattered was the health of Daniel Sedin after an incident late in the second period resulted in what looked to be a serious injury to the Canuck superstar and forced his departure from the game.

With the Canucks leading 4-1 at that point, Daniel, who scored the first two goals on the night for his first multi-goal game of the season and his first since February 24, 2013 against Detroit, was driven into the end boards dangerously by Calgary's Paul Byron – a hit that left the Canuck laying prone on the ice for a lengthy period of time.

Daniel was eventually taken off the ice by a stretcher and transported to a Vancouver General Hospital. The team released a statement via their @VanCanucks Twitter feed indicating Daniel was in stable condition and would be undergoing further evaluation and imaging. They also noted he showed signs of movement to his extremities and showed improvement from initially being hit.

Byron received a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct on the play.

Before the incident, you couldn't have scripted a better night for the Canucks despite the fact the team knew well before this contest that they were playing a mean-nothing game and would be on the outside of the playoffs looking in for the first time since the 2007.08 season.

The crowd was in an upbeat mood thanks to a touching pre-game ceremony that saw Pat Quinn earn his well-deserved spot in the team's Ring of Honour and the Canucks gave their fans plenty more to cheer about once puck dropped.

Daniel Sedin looked like his old vintage self teaming up with brother, Henrik, to account for the opening two goals. Frank Corrado notched his first career NHL goal while Jacob Markstrom looked well on his way to picking up his first win as a Canuck and his first NHL win in 184 days - something he would go on to accomplish by finishing the night with 21 saves on 22 shots.

There was even a feel-good story from the Flames side of things despite the lopsided score with 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner Johnny Gaudreau, who was making his NHL debut just days after suiting up for Boston College at the NCAA Frozen Four, netting his first career goal on his first career shot after deflecting a Joe Colborne shot past Markstrom.

But, on this night, nothing else surrounding the game was of any real concern.

The Canucks knew they'd be heading into the off-season facing plenty of unanswered questions.

Who would have imagined the question at the top of the list would be 'how severe is Daniel Sedin’s injury?'

The Canucks swept the season series against the Flames for the first time in team history winning all five head-to-head meetings. They also extended their home ice win streak against the Flames to seven games as well as their overall win streak against the Flames to seven games... Michael Zalewski notched his first career NHL point with an assist on Yannick Weber's power play goal late in the second period... Henrik Sedin notched two assists to finish the season as the Canucks' leading scorer with 50 points. As per Canucks TV reporter Joey Kenward (@kenwardskorner), had Henrik failed to do so, the Canucks would have been without at least one 50-point producer in a full season for the first time in team history... Eddie Lack became the first Canuck goalie in team history to win the Fred J. Hume award as Unsung Hero. Other Canuck team award winners included Ryan Kesler (Three Star Award and Cyclone Taylor Award for MVP), Dan Hamhuis (Babe Pratt Award for best defenceman), Zack Kassian (Pavel Bure Award as most exciting player) and Henrik Sedin (Cyrus McLean Award as leading scorer).

TOP OF THE HEAP: There was one Canuck that managed to finish atop the league in a statistical category. That was Tom Sestito, who concluded the season with a total of 213 penalty minutes. Sestito began the day trailing league-leader Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators by three penalty minutes. Neil picked up a five minute fighting major in Ottawa's season-ending win over Pittsburgh to finish with 211 penalty minutes. Sestito appeared destined to finish in second place until he was assessed a 10-minute misconduct with just 2:48 remaining in Sunday's contest.

FINISHING 25TH: Even before puck drop on Sunday, the Canucks learned they would officially conclude the 2013.14 season in 25th overall place as a result of the Hurricanes victory over the Flyers earlier in the day. It's the worst finish for the Canucks since the 1998.99 campaign when they finished as the 26th place team in the 27-team league. That off-season, the Canucks went on to select Daniel and Henrik Sedin with the second and third overall picks, respectively, at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft in Boston.

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