THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Canucks end four-game losing streak
Matthew Sekeres said the Canucks end their losing streak in a come-from-behind fashion for the first time this season.
“Not only did the Vancouver Canucks snap a four-game slide before the NHL All-Star break this weekend, they also solved the riddle of third-period comebacks. The Canucks won their first game of the season when trailing after two periods with a 3-2 shootout victory over the tumbling St. Louis Blues, who have lost six straight, before the 199th straight sell-out at General Motors Place,” said Sekeres.
“Vancouver had been 0-17-1 when beginning the third period with a deficit, but Mattias Ohlund's second power-play goal of the night just 1:46 into the final frame tied the score and Daniel Sedin
scored the only shootout goal, in the first sudden-death round, to complete the comeback.”
"It was a huge win," Ohlund said. "After you lose a game, the next few days are not fun. Now it's easy to go home, relax and make sure you're ready to play in a few days."
“The Canucks have five days off before returning to the ice on Tuesday for a home game against the Dallas Stars. Goaltender Roberto Luongo
, who has been struggling of late, will get even more time away, though that may not be a good thing,” said Sekeres.
“After fighting the puck and his positioning for the last few games, Luongo seemed to regain form in the third last night, making game-saving stops from in close on Dan Hinote, Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk. He also mentioned that the break could snap the momentum both he and the team built during the late stages Wednesday.”
"I started feeling comfortable in the third period," said Luongo, who made 26 saves. "All of a sudden, you feel like you're in a groove."
“The victory moves the Canucks into a second-place tie in the Northwest Division with the Minnesota Wild and takes them off the precarious eighth rung of the Western Conference playoff ladder. With a loss, Vancouver risked entering the season's unofficial midpoint on the outside of the post-season picture,” said Sekeres.
“And a loss looked likely when Tkachuk deked around Aaron Miller and scored with slightly more than two minutes remaining. The goal, however, was disallowed because the referee ruled the play had been whistled dead before the puck crossed the line. Blues head coach Andy Murray said he was told Tkachuk made contact with Luongo but differed when told of the whistle explanation.”
"To everybody in the building, [the play] was never stopped," he said.
“The Canucks went on to kill a five-on-three disadvantage in the closing minutes after Sami Salo
was sent off for delay of game. They dominated the overtime session, missing several great chances, and were thanking their goaltender for keeping them in the contest when the score was tied,” said Sekeres.
"When the game was on the line, Roberto did what he does best," Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault said. "That's the Roberto we all know and love."
“Luongo is now off until Jan. 29 after receiving permission to bypass the All-Star Game on Sunday, which he was supposed to start, and Vancouver's contest after the break, at home against Dallas, to visit his wife in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Gina Luongo is pregnant and has not been able to travel north this season, so her husband will spend the next week with her before rejoining the team in Tampa on Jan. 31,” said Sekeres.
“The Canucks also lost two players last night, one to injury and one to a waiver claim. Defenceman Lukas Krajicek departed in the first period after sustaining a shoulder injury. Vigneault said Krajicek would be re-evaluated Thursday. Forward Kris Beech, whom the Canucks were trying to send to their minor-league team, was claimed off waivers by the Washington Capitals.”
Ohlund puts some offence in ‘D’: It’s essential that more scoring must come from Canucks back end
Jim Jamieson said defencemen must contribute offensively if the Canucks are to be successful.
took care of business in the shootout, as he’s expected to do, but the bonus for the Vancouver Canucks was two big goals from defenceman Mattias Ohlund,” said Jamieson.
“Ohlund accounted for all of the Canucks’ regulation scoring, as the game went to overtime and the eventual 3-2 shootout win for Vancouver against the slumping St. Louis Blues.”
“The big Swede hammered the puck past Blues goaltender Manny Legace on power plays in the first and third periods to bring Vancouver back from one-goal deficits on each occasion,” said Jamieson.
“It was a huge win for us,” said Ohlund, in his third game back after missing 11 with a concussion. “We played pretty good the two previous games, but pretty good isn’t good enough. We’ll take the break and come back and re-energize.”
“The Canucks have been sorely missing production from their back end this season. Last year, Kevin Bieksa
, out with a lacerated leg most of the season so far, had 12 goals. Sami Salo
, who’s missed almost as many games than he’s played this season, had 14 goals, but just one this year. Ohlund had 11 last year, but now has eight. The Canucks would dearly love to see him unleash his big shot from the point to make other teams have to worry about somebody not named Sedin,” said Jamieson.
“Ohlund finished with four shots on goal and logged a monstrous 31:25 of ice time.”
“We would like to have more goals form our D,” Ohlund acknowledged. “We’re missing Kevin (Bieksa), who is maybe our most offensive guy. But overall we have to find a way to use our defencemen more in the offence.”
“We know how tough it is to defend against a team that uses their Ds a lot. We have to find a way to get more involved,” said Jamieson.
“Ohlund picked the top corner on Legace from the top of the left face-off circle at 18:21 of the first period and then blasted one in off the Blues goalie at 1:46 of the third from a sharp angle.”
“We need our D to jump up in the play and score goals,” said Henrik Sedin
, who had an outstanding game with two assists and 23:01 of playing time. That’s a big part for other teams, when they have one or two guys that have 25-30 points. It’s huge to get goals from the back end.”
Savouring desperation: Canucks have a week to build off this fragile win
Ed Willes said Canucks are a team playing out of desperation.
“During his morning press conference yesterday, Alain Vigneault was asked about facing a St. Louis Blues’ team which came into last night’s game reeking of desperation,” said Willes.
“The Blues, it seemed, had lost five games in a row and fallen from a playoff position to 12th place in the Western Conference. Was there a danger, it was put to Vigneault, in facing a team which needs a win the way a starving man needs a hot meal?”
“What do you think we are?” Vigneault countered.
“Which is kind of funny because that question is going to be asked a lot around here for the next week,” said Willes.
“Wednesday night, the Canucks calmed their fandom by grinding out a 3-2 shootout win over the Blues in a game that was all over the map but, in the end, did restore the shaken faith in Roberto Luongo
. The Canucks now enjoy a five-day all-star break and the sense is that holiday couldn’t come at a better time for a team which has seemed tighter than the rusted lug nuts on a ’57 Chevy.”
“We’ll know soon enough if that’s the case but, after last night, one thing is certain. The break couldn’t come at a better time for Luongo,” said Willes.
“It’s not easy when you go through some tough times,” the goalie said afterwards. “It’s not something I enjoy. You guys know me. I don’t like losing. I take it personally.”
“So it would seem. In a performance you may want to remember as this season unfolds, Luongo again started off like the imposter whose been playing in the Canucks’ blue ice for the last two weeks before he put together a third period which stands with the very best of his work here. And that statement is not made lightly,” said Willes.\
“With the Canucks trailing 2-1, largely because their franchise player had let in a pair of softies, Luongo made three, five-alarm saves off Dan Hinote, Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk in the final period to get the affair into a shootout, then stopped all four shootout attempts as Daniel Sedin
scored the game winner on a nifty bit of Forsbergian improvisation.”
“Just like that, there was peace in the kingdom.”
“He gives us a chance to win every night,” two-goal man Mattias Ohlund said of Luongo.
“Maybe there were some goals there he would have liked to have back but we haven’t lost a game because of him. And what can you say, he was tremendous in the third period,” said Willes.
“It’s also been a couple of weeks since the goalie had provided the difference in a Canucks’ victory and, as much as anything, their fall from grace simply reinforces Luongo’s role in most everything this team accomplishes. It’s difficult, of course, to quantify how much of the team’s success has been attributable to their goalie — 75 per cent? Eighty per cent? — but the Canucks’ formula starts with Luongo playing like Superman and pretty much ends there.”
“What can I say,” he continued. “You make a couple of saves and all of a sudden you feel like you’re on a roll.”
“And he now has a week to savour that feeling. So, come to think of it, does most everyone else in Vancouver,” said Willes.