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Press Round-Up: MAR.18.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Out of the doghouse: Canucks turn tables on Desert Mutts, add to their cushion over Predators
Brad Ziemer reviews the Canucks game against the desert dogs of Phoenix:

The 10-game regular-season countdown has begun for the Vancouver Canucks and while it's too early to say whether we will have final liftoff toward the playoffs, the signs Monday night were at least encouraging.

In their final game of the season against the rest of the league before they play their last nine versus Northwest Division foes, the Canucks displayed grit in spades and beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 at General Motors Place.

There was a lot to like about Vancouver's performance against what was a desperate Coyotes team. The Canucks answered the Coyotes' physical challenge -- something they didn't do in last Thursday's 2-0 loss in Arizona -- and demonstrated a real nose for the net.

All three goals were scored off rebounds and two of them came courtesy of the struggling Sedin twins. Vancouver's other goal was scored by Taylor Pyatt, who snapped a little 19-game goal drought.

"All goals were second opportunities, second chances -- shot, rebound, shot rebound -- that's the way you score in the NHL," said Canuck coach Alain Vigneault.

All in all it was a good night, except for the fact the Canucks lost winger Mason Raymond to a left knee injury on what looked like a highly questionable knee-on-knee hit early in the third period by Phoenix defenceman Keith Ballard.

Raymond suffered a strained medial collateral ligament and will be lost for at least four weeks.

Both general manager Dave Nonis and Vigneault were upset about Ballard's hit, which was not penalized.

"In my opinion it was a dirty hit," Vigneault said. "I can't see how they couldn't have seen that, knee-on-knee. I hope the league is going to review it."

The victory moved the Canucks into a three-way tie for sixth place in the Northwest. More importantly, it gave Vancouver a four-point cushion on the ninth-place Nashville Predators.

The Canucks' first period was certainly a lot better than the one they went through the motions in Thursday night in Phoenix, when the Coyotes peppered Roberto Luongo with 24 shots. Monday night, it was the Canucks putting plenty of pucks on net in the opening 20 minutes.

They tested Ilya Bryzgalov 17 times and scored twice to grab a 2-1 lead after one.

"They kind of took us behind the woodshed down in Phoenix and not only beat us on the scoreboard, but physically," said Canuck centre Brendan Morrison. "I thought we responded better tonight. We had a good start and had a lot of emotion in our game early. We showed some initiative and tried to be physical ourselves."

Centre Rick Rypien took on Phoenix tough guy and NHL penalty leader Daniel Carcillo in a spirited first-period scrap. Both players landed several hard punches, but Carcillo had to retire to the Phoenix room for repairs. He later scored the Coyotes' only goal late in the first with both nostrils plugged.

Earlier, slump-busting goals by Henrik Sedin and Pyatt had given the Canucks a 2-0 lead. Henrik scored just his second goal in 17 games on a rebound off shot by brother Daniel at the 8:55 mark.

Less than four minutes later on a Canuck power play, Pyatt snapped a 19-game drought when he pounced on a rebound off a Kevin Bieksa point shot and put a backhand through the legs of Bryzgalov.

"It had been a while," said a relieved Pyatt, who was reunited for much of the night with the Sedin twins. "It felt good to finally get one and for it to be a big goal in an important game made it even more special."

Henrik's second goal of the night came on a power play at 13:37 of the second, when the Canucks really needed a goal. They had managed just one shot in the opening 12 minutes of the second and it looked like the Coyotes were going to tie things up.

But Daniel Sedin tested Bryzgalov with a hard shot from the left circle and Henrik batted the rebound out of mid-air to give Vancouver its two goal cushion.

"I thought the whole team played a lot better tonight," said Henrik. "We stood up for each other. In Phoenix I thought they ran around a lot and got some big hits."

The loss likely ends any realistic hope the Coyotes had of making the playoffs. They are now seven points back of the Canucks, Calgary and Colorado.

"Vancouver played hard," said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky. "I thought they were very physical. I thought they skated well and when they did break down Luongo was really good. They deserved to win tonight."

ICE CHIPS: Vancouver is now 25-0-1 this season when leading after two periods.
Sedins see some separation: Henrik gets monkey off back, Daniel's still trying

Jim Jamieson said the Sedin separation seemed to spark the twins:

If anyone has the anti-venom, sneak it into Daniel Sedin's Gatorade.

One-half of the Vancouver Canucks' Swedish twins is snake-bitten to a degree almost beyond belief, for a guy who a few short weeks ago was on pace to match his team-leading 36 goals of last season.

Left-winger Daniel and brother Henrik, a centre, played key roles in the Canucks' 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night at GM Place, but only sometimes on the same line as head coach Alain Vigneault saw fit to play them apart at times for the the third straight game.

Henrik scored twice -- both on his brother's rebounds -- but Daniel continued skating in purgatory and extended his goal-less streak to an almost surreal 13 games.

"My confidence is great," insisted Daniel, who finished with two assists and six shots on goal. "We don't get down too much. When you're losing and you don't produce it's tough. You can't be frustrated.

"You have to look at the process. If you keep getting chances you know they are going to go in sooner than later. When you win the game, that doesn't really matter."

Daniel, who's known for his on-ice vision and deadliness around the net, missed two chances in the game he would under normal circumstances have put away.

In the first period, he missed the top left corner on Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after a great setup in the slot from Alex Burrows. In the third period, he missed a similar opportunity -- same spot, same corner -- after Ryan Kesler fed him a back pass while on a partial breakaway.

It got even more bizarre in the final minute, with the Phoenix goaltender pulled for an extra attacker, Daniel had a shot at the empty net from the top of the right faceoff circle only to hit Coyotes defenceman Ed Jovanovski.

Daniel, who's played on a line with brother Henrik since the two were kids in Sweden, said the two are adjusting to separation.

Daniel also played on a line with Kesler and Burrows, while Henrik saw time with Taylor Pyatt and Mason Raymond. When they were on the power play and at times at even-strength, the Sedins played with semi-regular linemate Pyatt.

"You have to look at it as a chance to play with other guys and take a step back," said Daniel. "I think it's good to once in a while have to figure out how you have to play. If things don't go good you start to switch things."

It may well be part of Vigneault master plan for the playoffs, to keep other teams' shut-down lines from matching on both Sedins.
Ohlund ready to ride pine: Veteran blueliner out four weeks after surgery on left knee
Elliott Pap reports on the injury status of Mattias Ohlund:

Now that the worst has happened to Mattias Ohlund, surgery during the NHL's stretch drive, he is hoping for the next best thing -- a quick recovery.

The Vancouver Canucks' workhorse defenceman had his troublesome left knee 'scoped Thursday to remove bone chips and will likely miss about four weeks of action.

That's four weeks too many as far as he's concerned, but Ohlund is resigned to his fate.

"It's tough," he said Monday, meeting with reporters for the first time since the operation. "You're pissed off for one day or two and then you move on and accept it and try to do what you can to get back in the lineup as fast as you can."

Ohlund claims he has no regrets about trying to play through the injury. He missed only one game, March 6 against Nashville, and returned two days later against St. Louis. He also played in Los Angeles last Monday and Anaheim Wednesday before reality -- and severe swelling -- set in.

"It's always easy looking back, thinking you should have done something different," continued the 31-year-old Swede. "I think, at the time, we made the proper decision and I'm just hoping now it's going to go pretty quick.

"As you get older, you sort of accept that injuries are part of the game and you try to be as positive as you can."

This is Ohlund's second significant injury this season -- he missed 11 games with a concussion from mid-December to mid-January -- and he will wind up playing only 53 times when you throw in his four-game suspension plus a family-related absence.

All told, the Canucks' projected top six on the back end has missed a whopping 149 man-games, including Monday's contest against the Coyotes. Lukas Krajicek and Ohlund are definitely gone for the final nine and, with Aaron Miller (shoulder) possibly joining them, the list could top 175.

"You really can't do much about injuries, I guess," shrugged Ohlund. "You try in the summer to prepare as best you can and sometimes it's just bad luck. We haven't had a full lineup for a long time, but we still have to find ways to win hockey games."
Canucks lose Raymond for four weeks reports on Mason Raymond’s condition following a low hit in the third period of Monday’s game:

The Vancouver Canucks big win over the Phoenix Coyotes Monday night was a costly one.

The Canucks lost winger Mason Raymond mid-way through the third, when he was hit knee-on-knee by Coyotes defenceman Keith Ballard. Early reports have Raymond out of action for four weeks with an MCL sprain.

There was no penalty called on the play, but Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault thinks the league should look into what he called 'a dirty play'. "In my opinion that was a vicious hit on Mason," said Vigneault. "I didn't like that at all, knee on knee, and I'm really hoping the league is going to review that."

In his first season with the Canucks, Raymond has appeared in 49 games and has recorded nine goals and 12 assists.
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