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Oil slick dumps Canucks

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Unless there’s a power outage, the zamboni breaks down on the ice or a popcorn machine explodes and fills the arena with everyone’s favorite buttery treat, there should never be a reason to end an NHL game early.

But what if a team, such as the Vancouver Canucks, gives up the game-winning goal on the first shot on net.

Say their opposition, the Edmonton Oilers, skate to a 3-0 win backed by that opening goal, a crushing score that the Canucks never rebound from.

If it’s clear just 49 seconds into the game that one team just isn’t in for a good night, does it not make sense to just blow the whistle and send everyone home early?

Of course not, but ending Vancouver’s loss to Edmonton early would have saved both teams from 60 minutes of lackluster hockey.

The Canucks, playing the final game of a season-high seven-game road trip, just didn’t have anything in the tank versus the Oilers, despite the motivation that a win would have granted them a 3-3-1 record since leaving Vancouver in late November.

Everything that could have gone wrong in Edmonton did, and it all started with Dustin Penner’s weak goal less than a minute into the game.

Lubomir Visnovsky went tape to tape with Penner as he rumbled his way into the Vancouver zone down the right wing. Fending off Willie Mitchell with his left hand, Penner flicked a backhand towards Curtis Sanford that somehow snuck past Sandman and the post.

The air deflated out of the Canucks right then and there.

Looking to ignite the troops Vancouver’s brawlers went to work hoping their haymakers would jump-start the Canucks like a frozen car battery in the dead of an Alberta winter.

Darcy Hordichuk and Zack Stortini’s fight was the appetizer to Rob Davison and Jason Strudwick’s main course; both tilts, which came before the midway point of the opening period, were fairly even but they were just what Vancouver needed to get going.

Yep, here we go, the Canucks have some energy and goals will come from them letting it loose.

Any minute now, you’ll see...

Okay, maybe in the second period.

Shots were 9-4 for Edmonton through 20 minutes of play and although Vancouver was out worked for most of the opening frame, the team showed life in the final minutes.

“We knew they were going to come out strong and they did,” said Willie Mitchell.

“They got a lucky one there and after that I thought we had a couple big kills and settled into our groove and for the last part of the period I thought we probably had more chances than they did. So we’re looking to build on that at the start of the second.”

It was a comatose period for the Canucks, yet they still only trailed by a goal with an abundance of time remaining.

Trying to grab Edmonton’s mojo right off the bat in the second, Shane O’Brien threw down with Kyle Brodziak a mere 31 seconds in.

Oh boy, here we go, this will be a tied game in no time.

This thought ran over and over through the minds of most Canucks fans throughout the second, and despite a more spirited performance, Vancouver came away empty handed.

The Canucks ended the period by giving up an insurance goal to Ales Hemsky, it was salt on the wound and it stung.

The Hemsky goal capped off a penalty filled middle period in which Vancouver was disciplined with five minor offences in the final nine minutes and change.

“Obviously you don’t want to be down two goals, but as a group they came out hard,” Mason Raymond said.

“We’re holding sticks and you can’t be doing that. It’s just something we’re getting away from, we’re taking too many penalties and it’s putting us in the box and we can’t afford to do that at this point in the game.”

The third period was a carbon copy of the earlier two as Edmonton scored and Vancouver failed to solve Dwayne Roloson again.

In total the Canucks hit the Oilers keeper with 23 shots, a handful of which he maybe had to think twice about.

At the other end of the rink, Sanford wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in games past, he didn’t look comfortable between the pipes from the get-go and that was especially evident on Robert Nilsson’s third period breakaway goal.

Sanford and the Canucks didn’t have bark and they certainly didn’t have bite in their second shutout loss of the season, but forgetful memories will have to come into play with Vancouver hosting the Florida Panthers Sunday night.

NHL games don’t end early, even if you give up the game-winner on the first shot on net just 49 seconds in.

A complete 60 minute effort will have to be put forth by the Canucks if they hope to declaw the Panthers.

– Wins for the Canucks on this seven game road trip

3 – Fights Vancouver's enforcers took part in; Davison, Hordichuk and O'Brien all took on different Oilers.

3 – Total shots by Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Pavol Demitra

23 – Shots on net for Vancouver

45 – Penalty minutes built up by the Canucks against the Oilers

On paper 23 shots on net doesn't sound too bad. It's a shame that maybe a pair of them had a chance of beating Dwayne Roloson and even that could be a stretch.

The Canucks didn't have their goal scoring mojo intact, the sparse scoring opportunities they had were on broken plays as the offence was simply unorganized.

The effort from the backend wasn't great yet it wasn't terrible.

Despite scoring three goals, Edmonton's offence was also quite paltry and Vancouver's defence can be credited for that.

The blueliners for the Canucks tallied 32 penalty minutes on the night, which really hurt any hopes of a comeback.

Curtis Sanford stopped 26 shots but allowed a pair of goals that he definitely wants back.

The only good thing about Vancouver awarding Edmonton eight power play chances was that the Canucks killed them all off.

Vancouver did a great job of taking away shooting lanes and forcing difficult shots while down a man, Edmonton only mounted four power play shots.

The Canucks were 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
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