Kristian Huselius scored the winner and Daymond Langkow added two assists as the Calgary Flames held off the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 at the Pengrowth Saddledome Monday night.
The New Year’s Eve loss dropped Vancouver’s all-time record on December 31 to a dismal 5-10-3. The Canucks have been outscored 63-47 over that stretch.
Vancouver has been even worse in its last ten contests on the final day of the year, compiling a record of 1-8-1. The combined score in those games? An ugly 43-24.
It didn’t used to be this way. Over their first 23 years of existence, the Canucks put together a very respectable 4-2-2 mark on New Year’s.
But call it bad luck for repeatedly facing off against Eric Lindros’ Philadelphia Flyers in the mid-90s, or call it the curse of Petr Nedved, but whatever the case, Vancouver’s fortunes on this particular day have done a complete 180.
Aside from a 4-3 victory against Chicago in 2003, the Canucks haven’t won on December 31 since 1992 when they knocked off Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings 4-0.
In that time, the Canucks have suffered through some ugly losses, including 8-0 and 6-2 blowouts in 1997 and 1998, respectively, to the Flyers.
All that being said, things started off rather well for Vancouver this time around.
After Matthew Lombardi missed a golden opportunity from deep in the slot, Henrik Sedin
took the puck back the other way and led a 3-on-2. He delayed just long enough for brother Daniel to find a seam, then hit him with a quick pass. Daniel made no mistake, firing a wrister past Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead just 2:34 in.
It was the start a tired Vancouver team, playing its second game in as many nights, was looking for. Unfortunately for Canucks fans, they couldn’t hold it.
Owen Nolan took a Langkow feed just under nine minutes later and roofed it from a sharp angle to tie things up at one. The goal came just seven seconds after Mike Brown’s roughing penalty expired. Brown was sent to the box for hitting Cory Sarich after the whistle.
After the teams combined for just eight shots in the first period, the Canucks and Flames combined for twenty in the second.
Vancouver’s best chance in the middle frame came from Alex Edler, who walked in off the blue line and fired a slapshot that Kiprusoff stopped with his blocker.
Huselius capitalized six minutes later after a wild scrum at the Vancouver end. An Eriksson point shot bounced out to Langkow, who kicked the puck toward the net. It found Huselius who simply had to tap it in.
Vancouver mounted a rally in the third and generated numerous chances on an early powerplay that ultimately failed to click. Jason Jaffray’s rebound attempt on a Markus Naslud wraparound missed the far post by mere inches.
It was as close as the Canucks would come on what has truly become a cursed night.