THE VANCOUVER SUN
Canuck steak ends
Brad Ziemer said the Canuck offense was so cold that Roberto Luongo
would’ve needed a fourth straight shutout to steal a win from the Minnesota Wild.
“Luongo couldn’t do it, although he was again Vancouver’s best player in what turned out to be a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild,” said Ziemer.
“Luongo’s shutout streak was snapped at 16:38 of the first period when Eric Belanger tipped in a Sean Hill point shot. Belanger’s power-play goal ended the streak at 212 minutes and two seconds”
Ziemer said, “One of Luongo’s most endearing traits is the fact he absolutely hates to lose. He was not in a good mood after the game, although he managed in a few short words to pretty much sum up the game.”
“I don’t think we played our best,” he said. “We took a lot of penalties and the bottom line is they wanted it more than us tonight and that’s why they won.”
“The Wild outshot Vancouver 30-20 on the night and Luongo made a number of huge saves that kept the Canucks close,” said Ziemer.
“Roberto is great and without Roberto in net the game probably would have been over in 20 minutes,” said Canuck defenceman Mattias Ohlund. “We came out a little flat and they came out strong and obviously it should have been more than 1-0 after the first 20.”
“It should come as no surprise that it was a very good goal that beat Luongo and ended the streak. Luongo had virtually no chance on the play as he was sliding to his right when Belanger tipped the puck, which changed direction and beat Luongo low to the glove side,” Ziemer said.
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Wild boo-birds can’t rattle Ohlund
Brad Ziemer said that the “boos” from the Minnesota crowd made it seem like Todd Bertuzzi stepped on the ice again as a Vancouver Canuck.
“Except it wasn’t No. 44 the 18,000-plus fans at the Xcel Energy Center were booing every time he touched the puck on Sunday. It was Canuck defenceman Mattias Ohlund, who returned to play in Minnesota for the first time since breaking Mikko Koivu’s leg with a slash back on Nov. 16,” said Ziemer.
“Ohlund insisted the reaction didn’t bother him one bit.”
“If 18,000 boo me at GM Place, I’ll be concerned,” Ohlund said. “They are great fans from Minnesota and it’s not an issue. They are great fans, they are passionate, they know a lot about the game and they should cheer for their team and try to get on the other guys.”
“Ohlund was cheered a couple of times. That was when he was whistled for a pair of minor penalties,” Ziemer said.
Trevor Linden sits again
The Province said, “For the second straight game and eighth time this season, the veteran forward was a healthy scratch. With just three points in 18 games, coach Alain Vigneault has some decisions to make about how he’s going to work Linden, Mike Brown and Rick Rypien into his fourth-line mix.”
Deflection finally beats Luongo
Ben Kuzma said that the one goal that ended Luongo’s shutout streak was nearly perfect and with Minnesota on their game, it would’ve taken a lot to earn a win.
“When Eric Belanger deflected a Sean Hill power-play point shot at the top of the slot late in the first period, it changed directions through traffic and got by Luongo low on the glove side,” said Kuzma.
“The goal ended Luongo’s shutout string at a club record three games and ended his perfect patrol of the crease at 212:02, another new franchise standard. It was also the Canucks’ first regulation loss to a Northwest Division opponent in regulation (9-1-2) and gave the Wild sole possession of the division lead.”
“I don’t think we played our best game and we took a lot of penalties,” Luongo said of the Wild’s 30-20 edge in shots and 7-2 advantage in power plays.
“They wanted it more than us tonight—that’s why they won.”
“It’s frustrating. Louie gave us a chance, we just couldn’t come through for him. To put all the pressure on him is something we just can’t do. He’s probably the best goaltender in the league, and that’s something we can’t do [fail to support him] because it’s going to bite us in the ass.”
“Even though Canucks’ Mike Brown would score his first NHL goal in just his third game with a neat deflection of a Lukas Krajicek point shot early in the second period, the Wild never lost momentum,” Kuzma said.
Voros’s voracious play has ‘em going Wild in Minnesota
Ben Kuzma said Aaron Voros, BC boy, played his fourth NHL game against familiar faces, whom he used to stare at through the glass at GM Place as a boy.
“There they were, the loud-and-proud support group of 60 friends and family soaking up the surreal sight of a 26-year-old Surrey minor hockey product—the 229th pick in the 2001 entry draft out of Victoria in the BCHL—beating big odds to play for the Minnesota Wild,” said Kuzma.
“And it was hard to figure who was more nervous in that Nov. 16 love-in, the supporters or the player.”
“I was thinking: ‘What have I got myself into and how am I going to get my head into this game?’” recalled Voros, who was on the hook to buy 20 tickets. “After a couple of hits it was good. We’ve got quite a thing going with Vancouver, so it wasn’t hard to get up for that game.”
“Voros got his first career goal in that lopsided 6-2 loss to the Canucks—just his fourth career regular-season outing—and was one the few shooters to solve Roberto Luongo
during the goalie’s November to remember,” Kuzma said.
“Voros then capped off a stellar game by chipping a puck over Luongo as he was checked to the ice by Lukas Krajicek to give the Wild a 2-1 lead late in the second period. It only further endeared him to another sold-out throng.”
“As far as American cities are concerned, this is where you want to play if you want to be under the microscope,” added Voros. “ There’s no hiding here and you’ve got to show up to play.”
“This organization expects to win and expects you to give everything every night. I love playing here.”