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Press Round-Up: FEB.28.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Sakic sinks the Canucks by scoring to force overtime and in the shootout
Elliott Pap said that Burnaby Joe provided the heroics that broke the heart of many Vancouverites Wednesday night:

It was just like the bad, old times for the Vancouver Canucks with Joe Sakic sticking a knife into their hearts at GM Place. The Colorado Avalanche captain was the difference in the Avs' 3-2 come-from-behind shootout victory Wednesday as he tied the score with 14.7 seconds remaining in regulation and then netted the shootout winner.

Sakic's equalizer came just 90 seconds after Alex Burrows had dramatically shovelled the puck past Jose Theodore one-handed, the goal awarded upon review after another half minute had been played.

But the Burrows heroics were erased by Burnaby Joe, who is just back after missing half a season with hernia surgery. Burrows, Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Willie Mitchell and Sami Salo were on for the game-tying tally.

"That's very tough," said Henrik Sedin. "It's always tough when you let in a goal when they pull their goalie. We just couldn't get the puck out. There were a lot of guys around the net, a lot of traffic, and it was very tough to see."

"We can't leave Joe Sakic open at the side of the net," lamented Burrows. "We just have to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn't knock on his players inability to clear the zone in the dying seconds.

"Sami, Kes and Burrows had opportunities to get the puck out and ran into one another," Vigneault said with a shrug.

"I can't fault them on the trying part. On the execution, they just over-tried probably a little bit there."

After Milan Hejduk was stopped on Colorado's opening shootout attempt, Sakic and Marek Svatos beat Luongo in consecutive attempts while Mason Raymond and Ryan Shannon both failed. Trevor Linden, due up third, never had a chance to shoot.

"You can take any stat and make it say whatever you want," said Vigneault. "I'm banking that our goaltender is one of the best and having Trevor go third where he is most comfortable. Having said that, we're 3-8 in shootouts when he's in the lineup and 3-1 when he's not."

The loss wasn't a total failure, though, as the loser point moved the Canucks one up on the Nashville Predators, who lost outright in Buffalo. Colorado is tied for eighth with the Preds.

"We have 19 games left and we have to take our share of the points," muttered Henrik Sedin. "We can't be looking around at what other teams are doing."

Raymond opened the scoring at 8:31 of the middle period when he deflected home linemate Shannon's through-the-slot diagonal feed.

Shannon was able to make the play as his check, Avalanche winger David Jones, had no stick and couldn't prevent the pass.

The Avalanche pulled even with 59.2 seconds left in the second on a coverage breakdown by Shannon, who went to puck carrier Svatos when the latter was already being checked, leaving Andrew Brunette wide open on the backdoor.

Brunette deked Luongo to finish the pretty play, setting up the wild third-period finish.

A minute before the Brunette goal, Luongo saved brilliantly on Jones, who was set up on the doorstep by Ben Guite.

"Colorado attacks down low probably more than any team in the league," said Canuck defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "You have to give them credit. Both team were desperate for the win."

It was Vancouver's ninth shootout loss of the season. The Canucks finished February at 6-1-3-4.

The scoreless first period featured outstanding goaltending at both ends, although the Avs' Jose Theodore had more work and the tougher saves. The former Hart Trophy winner was especially good on Kesler, Alex Edler and Taylor Pyatt, who couldn't elevate Edler's rebound over Theodore's left pad.

ICE CHIPS: Bobby Orr, the "greatest defenceman who ever lived" according to Don Cherry, received a prolonged standing ovation when he was introduced to the GM Place crowd during a TV timeout.
Faith kept - now keep those leads: Playoff push: Colorado a genuine threat to blow by Vancouver in coming weeks

Ben Kuzma said the key to the Canucks success is maintaining one goal leads:

The faith came Tuesday when general manager Dave Nonis didn't bite on a major trade-deadline acquisition at the expense of his young roster core.

However, the fact the Vancouver Canucks couldn't hold on to a late lead Wednesday in bowing 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche in a shootout at GM Place will keep the jury out on giving this bunch passage to the playoffs.

So, you have to wonder.

Is the glass half full or half empty after the Canucks allowed Joe Sakic to send the game into overtime with 14.7 seconds remaining and then watched the Avs captain and Marek Svatos score the lone shootout goals?

"It's very full," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "Our month of February has been very good (6-1-4) and we're getting a great effort from our guys. Except for our power play (0-for-6), we were outstanding."

Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler could have been moved at the deadline for scoring help and that faith was rewarded at least for one night. Raymond opened scoring, Kesler had three shots and logged 21:59 and Edler had four shots and an assist in 21:26.

"Showing the faith, I think, is just being smart," said Canucks captain Markus Naslund. "You can't trade away the guys you're going to build the team around in the future. The deals out there didn't make any sense because he [Nonis] knows how good the young core we have [are] and he's got to protect them."

Now, if the Canucks can learn how to protect a lead, they should make the playoffs. They're 17-18 in one-goal games, and allowing Sakic to roof a backhander over Roberto Luongo to force OT was inexcusable.

Again, half empty? Or half full?

"All we can do is try and learn from the last mistakes and move ahead," said Naslund. "We're playing a strong team game now. You can tell there are big points being played for and we want to put [the Avs] behind us."

Easier said than done.

With the Avs about to ice Peter Forsberg plus an offensive cast that includes the healed Sakic, Paul Stastny and Ryan Smyth, expect them to push hard. Colorado is just one point behind the seventh-place Canucks.
Pettinger's debut turns deja vu
Brad Ziemer reminisces about Matt Pettinger’s first game as a Canuck:

Matt Pettinger played his 335th NHL game Wednesday night.

Funny, it felt more like his first.

The newest member of the Vancouver Canucks admitted to battling some serious butterflies when he made his debut.

"It felt almost like my first NHL game again," Pettinger said after the Canucks lost 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche in a shootout. "I'm sort of glad to get the first one out of the way. Now I can kind of get into the swing of things, get to know the guys a little bit better and start to feel more comfortable out on the ice."

Pettinger arrived here late Tuesday night after being swapped earlier in the day for fellow left winger Matt Cooke. The Victoria native participated in Wednesday morning's game-day skate, but without a full practice under his belt he had to rely heavily on his instincts Wednesday night.

"Probably the hardest part is just the systems, whether it's the neutral zone, the forecheck, four-on-four, the PK, there are so many different things that obviously I used to do in Washington and you come in here and go over it this morning and try to implement it in a game. Those are the things that are just going to take a little time."

Pettinger skated most of the night with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. He logged nearly 15 minutes of ice time and worked the penalty-kill. He was minus-one on the night.

Having spent his entire NHL career with the Capitals, Pettinger was struck by the speed of Wednesday night's game.

"That's what I noticed out there," he said. "I said that to Trevor (Linden), I have been out in the East for four or five years now and I wasn't sure if it was the intensity of the game or if every game is like that. In the first period I felt the pace was a little higher [than in the East].
Darwin evolves into an instant millionaire
Brad Ziemer talks about Darwin Head’s Million Dollar Shootout victory:

Prince Albert, Sask., sawmill worker Darwin Head won $1 million in the Chevrolet Million Dollar Shootout during the first-period intermission of Wednesday night's Vancouver Canuck-Colorado Avalanche game at GM Place.

Head had 24 seconds to shoot 20 pucks from the far blue line at an empty net. He needed to put 15 of them in the net to collect the $1 million. He did it when his last shot crossed the goal line just before time expired.

Head raised his arms in the air and was hugged by hockey legend Bobby Orr, who had been coaching him the past couple of days.

"It feels amazing," Head said. "I don't know what to feel. I'm just elated and happy. I can only think about my family back home in Saskatchewan."

Head, who spent the last three weeks practicing two or three hours a night on an outdoor rink near his home, said he was convinced he hadn't won.

"I didn't think I was even close to 15," he said. "When I was shooting the last two pucks I was hearing the crowd counting, 11, 12, so thought [I had] 13 or 14 maybe." A lifetime Saskatchewan resident, the 35-year-old Head was randomly chosen from 8.6 million total online entries for the contest, which was shown live on TSN.

Head grew up on the Mistawasis First Nation reserve, located approximately 45 minutes west of Prince Albert.

He started playing hockey at age 10 and continued playing recreationally until he was 25 years old. He currently works as a sawyer at Carrier Forest Products Ltd. in Prince Albert, where he lives with his wife Criste and their three children.

Head said he has no plans to quit his job and said he will use the money to pay off his mortgage and provide for his children.

Before he won the $1 million, Head and two friends, Lance Badger and Randy Bout, each won Chevy Malibu hybrid cars when they easily put 15 pucks in from centre ice. That also won a fan in attendance at the game, Surrey's Ryan Gloag, a car.
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