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Se7enth heaven

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Chicken Little can take a hike, the sky is far from falling in Vancouver.

It was overcast and dreary for the better part of January, but the clouds have parted and blue sky is everywhere. The sun is shining and there are even a few shooting stars to be seen.

Canucks defenceman Alex Edler is one of them.

Edler played his best game as a member of the Canucks leading Vancouver to a 7-3 whopper of a win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

He was here, he was there, he was everywhere. With a goal and three assists Edler led the Canucks on offence, while also limiting the Blackhawks at the other end of the ice.

“I think I played alright,” smiled Edler, who set a new personal best for points in a game.

“It’s always nice to get points, three of them were second assists, but it’s nice to be a little lucky out there too.”

Edler’s monster game started just 53 seconds into the contest when he cleared the puck out of the zone by getting the rubber to Henrik Sedin. Although Edler skated down the ice following the play, he was hardly needed as the Sedins went to work.

Daniel streaked into the Chicago zone before slamming on the breaks and hitting Henrik with a backhand pass. From the slot Hank shuffled it back to Danny along the left hand boards, he then let a low shot fly towards Cristobal Huet.

Henrik found himself in the right spot as through traffic he tipped in his brother’s blast for his ninth goal of the season.

Scoring was just that easy on this night.

Edler helped double Vancouver’s lead near the three-minute mark of the period. On the power play he pinched up along the boards to keep the puck in deep, which allowed Ryan Kesler to nab it and hit a lonely Mats Sundin at the side of the net for an easy goal.

With the score now 5-0 Canucks midway through the second, Edler was fresh off collecting his third helper of the night when he stepped into a shot with the might of 100 men and let loose an absolute laser from the right face off dot that burnt up the back of the net.

That twine tickler was the scrumptious cherry on top of a delicious outing, one that featured four power play goals for the Canucks, capped by Edler’s rocket.

“I think the power play has been getting better and better lately and we got some goals on the power play tonight and that felt really good and it’s good for our confidence,” said Edler, who then struggled to explain why Vancouver’s special teams were hot, hot, hot.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I think we had a good practice [Friday] and I don’t know, sometimes there’s lucky bounces and sometimes you just outwork your opponent and it’s hard to put the finger on one thing, but it’s nice to get some goals on the power play.”

Having not scored more than two goals on the power play in an outing since going 4-for-6 in a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 25, 2008, coach Alain Vigneault was clearly relived that his team's struggling specials teams unit came to life.

“I mean that’s huge, tonight the power play was the thing that gave us the momentum,” said Vigneault.

“We had quality chances and we were able to find the back of the net, we got a few breaks obviously, but you get the breaks from hard work.”

Those breaks included a favorable bounce through traffic on Henrik’s goal, Vancouver’s first, some skate ping pong on Kesler’s first goal, the team’s third, and a blown tire by Duncan Keith on Kesler’s second score, a breakaway beauty with a dizzying array of dangles.

All the luck the Canucks were lacking over the past few weeks came flooding back all at once and it couldn’t have come at a better time than in a statement game of epic proportions against one of the Western Conference’s elite squads.

“They’re one of the best teams in the league and you saw that skill and speed early in the third period,” said Vigneault, in reference to the three goals Chicago scored in a stretch of just over ten minutes to end the second and start the third.

“I thought it was important for us to play a good game, put a good process on the ice, which I think we did for most of the game, and Chicago hasn’t lost very many games here on this road trip so they’re definitely one of the better teams in the NHL right now.”

The Canucks hit the highway now for a three-game road trip that starts Tuesday in St. Louis. There’s no more time for horsing around, consistent efforts like this need to happen on a nightly basis down the stretch and Robero Luongo said the confidence his team gained from this win will go a long way in ensuring that.

“Obviously we hadn’t had much success at home lately so to end the last two games with wins is huge, especially in the fashion we did tonight,” said Luongo, who finished with 36 saves.

“It’s great to do that and now I think the boys are excited to get out on the road here and spend some time as a team and really focus on our game.”

The Canucks next home contest is Sunday, Feb. 15 versus the Montreal Canadiens.

3 – Points for Mats Sundin (1-2-3) in his best outing yet

  3 – Points for Ryan Kesler (2-1-3), he has eight in his last three games

4 - Points for Alex Edler (1-3-4) in a superb showing for the defenceman

– Power play goals for the Canucks (4-for-8), only the second time they've hit that mark this season

21 – Wins for the Canucks this season when allowing three-or-fewer goals to the opposition (21-8-4)

I'm not sure what Ryan Kesler is eating for breakfast these days, but he is playing the best hockey of his career.

Kes had another three points and has eight in the past three games to lead the Vancouver charge; his play has helped Mats Sundin step his game up as well.

Alex Edler was a beast on offence as well on this night with a career best four points.

Vancouver was outshot by Chicago 39-26.

For nearly two periods the defence and Roberto Luongo were flawless. The Blackhawks weren't to be denied any offence though and they lit the lamp three times.

Overall Vancouver shut down Chicago's young guns, Cam Barker was the only player with two points.

Luongo didn't have to be spectacular and he wasn't, but he certainly had his moments. He's nearing full form.

The Canucks were absolutely cut-throat on special teams to the tune of four goals on eight attempts.

Everything was simple for Vancouver, they got pucks on net and were in front for the rebounds; some nights it just comes easy.

The Blackhawks finished 1-for-5 on the penalty kill; the Canucks are now 12-14-7 when surrendering a PP goal.
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