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Shannonian Spin-o-rama

by Sunny Dhillon / Vancouver Canucks
It was only fitting that with the Chicago Blackhawks and head coach Denis Savard in town, Sunday night’s game was decided by a spin-o-rama.

Unfortunately for the Hawks, this one didn’t come from the pirouette-legend Savard. It was courtesy Vancouver’s Ryan Shannon.

Shannon scored the only goal of the shootout as his Vancouver Canucks snuck past Chicago 3-2 at General Motors Place. Shannon, playing in just his second game since being recalled from Manitoba, deked to the forehand on Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. As Khabibulin slid to his left, Shannon quickly spun back the other way, tucking the puck into the yawning cage and bringing the sellout crowd to its feet.

“When I came in I kind of went out wide to see where he lines up, see how far out he is,” said Shannon. “And then when I saw him come with the poke check, I realized that the far side stick wasn’t open so I had to come back.”

It wasn’t Shannon’s first time attempting the spin-o-rama.

“I tried it last year with Anaheim and [Marty] Turco saved it,” Shannon told reporters. “It's always kind of been bugging me that I haven't been able to score on it.”

As Shannon spun, he appeared to make contact with Khabibulin.

“I kind of lost my footing,” said Shannon. “I don’t know if I landed on his stick or not but I was just able to get the puck in the net.”

For his trouble, Shannon took a shot to the back of the head from Khabibulin. He reacted by cheering in the goaltender’s face.

“[It’s] not my intention to embarrass anybody, but just trying to score,” said Shannon. “The way we came back and won in the shootout, it’s emotional, it feels good.”

Khabibulin, naturally, saw the play in a different light.

“Show me one goaltender who’s going to be happy if he stays in the blue and somebody bumps him,” said Khabibulin. “I don’t care if it’s a penalty shot or not. Whatever. He’s going to get in the blue, I felt that I had to do something.” Added Khabibulin, “I guess there’s no such rule against it. There’s no rule, I guess he can do that but he’s going to pay the price for that.”

Savard felt the goal should have been disallowed.

“To me that’s interference,” said Savard. “Goalies shouldn’t be able to get bumped. I mean, what’s the difference if the guy goes right at the goalie and runs him right out – goes straight at him. I don’t think there’s any difference there, so the league’s got to look at that and try to fix that.”

Shannon’s goal capped what had already been a pretty good night for him. He logged 12:30 of ice time and had three shots on goal. He also just missed on a nifty through-the-legs deflection midway through the third.

But what might have been most surprising for the 24-year old was the home crowd actually cheering at the end of the game.

Of Shannon’s three contests in front of the GM Place faithful heading into this one, two were of the embarrassing variety, including Saturday night’s 6-2 loss to Colorado. On October 10, Shannon was a -4 when the Canucks were blown out 8-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers. In fact, during Shannon’s three home games – all defeats – the Canucks had been outscored 17-5. He was a -6.

It’s been a long road back to Vancouver for Shannon. After he was demoted following the Philadelphia game, the Darien, Connecticut native hurt his knee on three different occasions. When healthy with the Moose, Shannon managed to register eight points in 13 games, demonstrating the offensive flair that made him a fan favourite coming out of training camp.

When asked why he put Shannon in the shootout, head coach Alain Vigneault smiled and said, “I heard he was good and just gave him a chance.”

He sure did.

And Ryan Shannon may have just spun his way onto the offensively-challenged Canucks for the rest of the season.

4 – Hits for Matt Cooke to lead all skaters, including a bone-cruncher on Yanic Perreault midway through the first that energized the crowd.

9 – Consecutive seasons with 20 goals or more for Markus Naslund, a franchise record.

14 – Faceoff wins in 56 opportunities for Vancouver (25%).

21 – Scoring chances for Vancouver to Chicago’s eight.

29:35 – Of ice time, a game-high, for Sami Salo.

The offense created a boatload of chances but – stop me if you’ve heard this before – couldn’t finish. The Sedins and Naslund, in particular, were all over the Hawks early but couldn’t get a puck past Khabibulin until nearly 59 minutes in.

This defense looked nothing like the one that hit the GM Place ice 24 hours earlier. They held Chicago to just 18 shots and were very unlucky to give up two goals. This is about as easy a night as Luongo gets.

Vancouver squandered three consecutive powerplay opportunities in the second period, including a brief 5-on-3, when it could have put the game out of reach. The PK was 5-for-5 and looked as dominant as it has all season.
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