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Sedin show thwarted

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
The Thrashers...really?

That’ll be the question anyone who missed the Canucks game Friday night will pose when hearing Vancouver failed to get it done in Atlanta, losing 4-3 in a shootout.

A loss to the Thrashers is bad on most nights as they are perennial bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference with almost 100 more losses than wins all-time and only one playoff appearance in eight seasons.

Add in the fact that Atlanta was in the midst of a four-game winless slide and a three-game losing streak on home ice and Vancouver figured it was in for some easy pickins; the Thrashers were marinated and primed for devouring.

The Canucks had won five of six versus the Thrashers and three consecutive in Atlanta with more than nine years separating Vancouver from its last loss in Georgia; Vancouver had its cutlery sharpened for a nice meal.

None of this meant a thing when the dust settled after a zany finish as the Canucks let a winnable game slip through their palms.

Erik Christensen, the fourth Atlanta shooter in the shootout, beat Jason LaBarbera to steal the win for the Thrashers and spoil what was otherwise a decent game for Vancouver and a great outing for the Sedins.

Both Daniel and Henrik collected three points apiece on the night. Hank was on the receiving end of two fine passes from Danny as he notched his seventh and eighth goals of the season, while Henrik returned the favour to Daniel allowing him to tip in his 19th on the campaign.

The Sedin magic began with Vancouver on the power play trailing 1-0 thanks to a nice individual effort that led to a shorthanded marker for Atlanta’s Joseph Crabb.

The Canucks evened the score at 10:26 of the first when off a Kevin Bieksa point shot, the puck found its way to Daniel in front. He swiftly jolted it over to Henrik at the right of the goal and he put it in with ease.

“I got the puck there and it was an empty netter pretty much,” said Henrik, who is now on a four game point streak.

The brother-to-brother combo came to life again, this time with 12:50 remaining in the middle frame. Henrik found some room in front of Atlanta’s Kari Lehtonen and after Daniel taunted the Thrashers with the puck behind the net, he flipped it out to Hank who converted his second goal of the game.

The Canucks are an astonishing 161-55-21 when both Daniel and Henrik record at least one point in the same game, yet goal No. 2 gave them each a pair of points meaning Vancouver had an even better chance of winning, right?

Apparently not as the Thrashers battled back to tie the game midway through the second before jumping out in front early in the third.

Down 3-2 with time twiddling away, the Sedins mounted another attack. They were intent on leading their club to its second straight road win since the Canucks last posted back-to-backs in late November.

With 8:46 remaining in regulation, Henrik threw the puck on net from the blueline and it was deflected in by Daniel – don’t ask me how.

Six points from the Sedins, and two for Pavol Demitra, gave Vancouver’s top guns eight on the night and that still wasn’t enough with Daniel needing to score in the shootout to keep the hope of two points alive for the Canucks.

He came up short, as did Vancouver, but even losing to the third worst team in the league produced a few positives - other than the Sedin show.

The single point the Canucks got moves them to within a pair of the Calgary Flames, who were idle on this night.

Jason LaBarbera once again shone in net for Vancouver with 34 saves. He may not be mister right, but he’s certainly mister right now for the Canucks as for the second straight game he did his job in giving his team a chance to win.

Shane O’Brien made good for a second consecutive outing on not taking any penalties, the enforcer jokingly made it his New Year’s resolution to stay out of the box as much as possible. Mike Brown and Rob Davison picked up the slack in that area with two minor penalties each; Brown also received five for fighting.

The Canucks now head home to rest up Saturday before preparing to do battle with the Dallas Stars on Sunday night.

By then hopefully everyone will have come to terms with Vancouver succumbing to Atlanta.

– Losses for Vancouver all-time in Atlanta

– Points for the top line of the Canucks, the Sedins had three each while Demitra collected two

34 – Saves for Jason LaBarbera in his second straight start

100 – Career games played for LaBarbera

600 – Career games played for Daniel Sedin

Vancouver's top guns were the only players with any offensive gusto in this one.

The Sedins almost single-handedly won this game as they were in on all three Canucks goals.

Vancouver's shootout struggles continue as the team is now 1-4 this season and 16-21 all-time.

Vancouver outshot Atlanta 38-37.

Considering Vancouver's defence had to deal with the loss of Mattias Ohlund midway through the game, the unit faired quite well.

Ohlund left with an undisclosed lower body injury and the troops picked up the slack; other than Atlanta's third goal, the blueliners played well in his absence.

Willie Mitchell logged over 32 minutes of ice time, while Kevin Bieksa was near 29.

Vancouver was able to convert on one of its three chances with four shots on goal: not bad.

Atlanta scored its first shorthanded goal of the season on the opening power play for the Canucks: bad.

The Thrashers also potted a power play marker to finish 1-for-5; Atlanta's PP goal in the third was the first against Vancouver in the last fifteen attempts overall.
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