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No déjà vu

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
After 20 minutes of play in Sunday night’s tilt between the Vancouver Canucks and the Florida Panthers, it seemed as if the Canucks were playing the role of Bill Murray from the 90’s flick Groundhog Day.

Twenty-four hours before this game, Vancouver was in Edmonton battling against a divisional foe.

The Oilers jumped on the Canucks with an early goal, riding it like a shining steed to a 3-0 win.

The Panthers followed suit with a goal just 4:02 into the first period; they added another less than three minutes later, and all of the sudden the Canucks were back at Rexall Place being bullied by the Oilers.

Thankfully, there would be no déjà vu on this night.

Vancouver’s first home game this December ended 5-3 for the fan favourites thanks to a second period in which the Canucks didn’t only declaw the Panthers, they neutered them.

Pavol Demitra netted a pair of goals – one a power play marker, while Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Kesler each also chipped in with special teams goals. Wellwood’s came on the power play, a great effort shorthanded accounted for Kesler’s goal.

“They took it to us in the first period and got a couple of goals, we really had to rebound there from four or five bad periods in a row,” explained Wellwood.

“In the second period we got some bounces we needed and I think it lifted everybody’s spirits.”

Demitra’s first goal of the night came at the 5:25 mark; he was the beneficiary of a bad turnover in tight at the Florida net by Karlis Skrastins, Demitra simply had his stick in the right place at the right time.

His second tally was a bit of a plinko goal as Demitra’s low shot went in off a player in front. It wasn’t pretty, but it counted nonetheless.

Wellwood’s goal 1:30 later was the nicest of the middle frame.

He was parked in front of the Florida net with Daniel Sedin working his magic near the right face-off circle. Expect the unexpected is the rule when lining up with the Sedins, so even though Wellwood didn’t seem like a threat, he knew to be ready for a pass at any moment.

After a few seconds on wheeling, Daniel flung the puck over to Wellwood and the forward batted in his 12th goal of the season.

“Danny had a chance to shoot it and knowing those two guys you have to be ready for it and I was fortunate to get a stick on it,” said Wellwood.

The floodgates were open at that point and Kesler ripped them off their hinges with a shorthanded goal less than a minute after that. He collected the puck just over the Florida blueline, then walked in alone on Craig Anderson and lodged a violent backhander top shelf.

All of the sudden Anderson, who had won five of his last six game coming in, looked as out of place in net as a vegetarian in a steakhouse.

Vancouver’s second period flurry of goals was as intense as it was impressive, but the players credited Darcy Hordichuk’s goal – he scored 12 minutes into the first to cut the Florida lead to 2-1 – with giving them the jump they needed to pull this win out.

“Hordi’s goal, that was huge for us,” said Demitra. “He scored that goal and then everything just started to go our way; it’s nice when you see a guy like that score a goal, that was the nicest goal tonight.”

It was tough not to get pumped from Hordini’s third goal of the season as it as a beauty. He took a pass from Kesler in the high slot, walked in on Anderson and cranked an uncharacteristic wrist shot up high and in.

An enthusiastic fist pump ensued and it was contagious to the group.

“I usually get that celebration once a year,” laughed Hordichuk, who added that goal celebrations should get the team going everyone once and a while.

“We need energy out there, I think that we’re having fun and everybody gets everybody going by having a little bit of a celebration…it’s all about having fun and when we’re winning, we’re having fun.”

Vancouver’s second period explosion of offence was thanks to tremendous special teams play; the Canucks scored two power play goals and a shorthanded marker in 2:08 to ice this game.

Vancouver has now scored at least one power play goal in six of its last seven games.

“I think lately our power play has been getting a lot more shots and we’ve been scoring goals almost every game,” said Daniel Sedin, who had one power play assist.

“We’re starting to get that to work and I think the power play has to be good for teams to play in this league.”

A robust second period knocked the Canucks out of the funk they were in and it led to a fresh finish and no déjà vu against the Panthers.

If Vancouver is in the mood for some déjà vu this week, a carbon copy of this outing would be perfect against the Oilers on Wednesday night.

If Vancouver is in the mood for some déjà vu this week, a carbon copy of this outing would be perfect against the Oilers on Wednesday night.

0 – Victories all time for Florida at GM Place

– Game the Canucks have played at home in December

3 – Special teams goals against the Panthers (2 PP, 1 SH)

4 – Wins this season for Vancouver in the second of back-to-back games

30 – Shots on net for Vancouver

Like the succulent icing in the middle of an Oreo cookie, Vancouver was great in the second period and tasteless throughout the first and third.

The Canucks came out playing uninspired hockey, but fought their way back into the game with a flurry of goals that simply overwhelmed the Panthers.

Vancouver got pucks to the net in the second, they ran screens and passed the puck well and it showed on the scoreboard. That wasn't the case in the first or third and Florida outscored Vancouver 3-0 in those periods.

Vancouver's last line of defence on the night was Cory Schneider and after a rough start - he allowed two goals on four shots - he rebounded with a solid effort.

He stopped 18 shots overall, including four or five dangerous ones with time ticking down in the third period.

Schneider wasn't great, but he was good enough to get the Canucks the win.

The Canucks are really getting the hang of that whole power play thing.

They were 2-for-6 on the night and have now scored a power play goal in six of their last seven games.

Vancouver also didn't allow a power play goal as Florida went 0-for-5; Ryan Kesler made the Panthers pay on one of their chances with a shorthanded goal in the second period.

When special teams are hot, so are the Canucks. Simple as that.
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