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No goals, no glory

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

The Boston Bruins seem to have a blueprint for success while playing on the road.

On Monday night they escaped Edmonton with a 1-0 win over the Oilers, Tuesday evening it was the Vancouver Canucks that fell into Boston's trap in another 1-0 win for the Bruins.

It's easy to chalk a shutout loss up to a lack of effort, but that wasn't the case for the Oilers and it certainly wasn't true for the Canucks on this night.

Vancouver put forth a solid effort that had them outshoot Boston 31-30 and heavily out chance the Bruins in the first and third periods, the difference in this game was the play of Boston goaltender Tim Thomas. He was the reason Vancouver didn't add to their impressive 12 goals in two games on home ice this season.

This contest will go into the record books as win for the Bruins, but Thomas deserves all the praise as for the second straight night he stole a game for Boston.

"Give credit to their goaltender, ours was very good too, but their goaltender played a phenomenal game," said Alain Vigneault. "It seemed like you've got to get to them early so they've got to open up a little bit and we had some chances in the first period, we had some quality chances, and he shut us down."

The Canucks had chance after chance after chance to hit the scoreboard on the night, their scoring opportunities actually started less than 30 seconds into the game when Vancouver hit Thomas with three quick shots.

Vancouver kept the pressure on — having outscored their opponents 12-3 on home ice this season the Canucks understood the importance of scoring early and often to get both themselves and the crowd into the game — but Boston stole their thunder midway through the first.

Michael Ryder gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead near the 10 minute mark of the opening period when he snapped home a juicy rebound that was waiting for him 20 feet in front of Roberto Luongo.

From there the Bruins went to work defensively and Thomas did his thing, all while Boston's offence kept Luongo busy at the other end of the ice.

It was just one of those nights where the Bruins were in the zone and there was nothing the Canucks could do about it; one of those nights where Vancouver did almost everything right, they just couldn't score.

"We had a lot of chances, a whole bunch in the first, second and third, like I said they're goalie came up with some big stops," said Luongo. "A couple of times he didn't know where it was but it was hitting him or going wide, that's going to happen some times during the year so we just have to make sure we bring that effort every night."

"I think we're pretty happy as a group with how we played," added Mason Raymond, "we had a lot of shots, we had some good chances, it just wasn't there. We just didn't have that little bounce our way or whatever the case might have been, but I think as a group I think we played pretty well."

No one was hanging their heads after the game, quotes are typically hard to squeeze out of players following a loss, but they were more than willing to talk afterwards, a sure sign that although they lost, in their minds they played well enough to win.

"You've got to remember they're playing their second game in two nights so that's the way they play and they're good at it," Kevin Bieksa said. "They're structured and disciplined, we knew what we were getting into before this game and I think we were patient, we did a good job and we still got our chances, but we couldn't put them in the net."

Ryan Kesler, who along with Raymond was riding a five-game point streak coming into this contest, was continually replaying the chances he missed in his head afterwards. He didn't say how many he counted, just that it was far too many and it wasn't simply a matter of the team not getting any puck luck.

"I don't think it was just bounces, we've got to take onus on burying the chances that we get," said Kesler. "I know I had a couple where I should have scored so, I thought we played good defensively but we've got to start burying some of those chances."

Heading out on the road for a two-game Californian swing later this week, Vancouver, if nothing else, gained momentum from this tough loss. They did everything the game plan called for except score, it's too bad moral victories don't count for anything.

"I think it was a building block tonight even though we didn't win," added Kesler. "I thought defensively that was a better game from us and we had a couple breakdowns but Lou was there to shut the door, so all-in-all I think it was a stepping stone. It wasn't a great game by us, you want to go out and win, but there are night's where you run into hot goalies and tonight was one of those."

The play of Luongo was overshadowed by that of Thomas, but after a few difficult games in the crease for Vancouver, Bobby Lu was indeed his old self recording 29 saves.

Now if Luongo can continue his fine play and Vancouver can duplicate Boston's road blueprint, it'll be the Canucks collecting a couple well deserved road wins against Los Angeles and Anaheim on Thursday and Friday.

Power play goals allowed by the Canucks at home this season

2 Point streaks snapped as Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler had been regulars to the scoresheet in five straight games each

8 – Hits for Milan Lucic in his NHL debut at GM Place

– Ice time for Kevin Bieksa, he led all Canucks on the night

106 – All-time meetings between the Canucks and Bruins, Vancouver is now 24-65-17 against Boston

After Boston scored there wasn't much room for Vancouver in the neutral zone so fancy offensive plays were out the window. The Canucks got back to basics, simply getting shots on net, but the Bruins did a great job blocking shooting lanes, taking away passes and suffocating rebounds. The offence didn't give up, they had a game-high 13 shots in the third period, scoring on Tim Thomas was simply impossible on this night.

Alain Vigneault summed up the play of the defence perfectly: "Our goaltender has got to find a way to stop the puck, he did, our shutdown guys have got to find a way to shutdown the opposition, they did."

This was a fairly crisp game for the Canucks on the back end, Luongo looked great in only allowing a single goal, and the Bruins really didn't have any great scoring chances because Vancouver's defence played a smart game.

Special teams wasn't a factor for either team in this one, the Canucks were 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill but there wasn't much offensively during either team's power plays.

Vancouver continues to thrive on the penalty kill at home though, they still have not allowed a power play goal at GM Place in three games and counting.
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