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The Goods: Cannot Hab this one

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 3-2 loss to Montreal.

…the final horn sounded at the Bell Centre to cut Vancouver’s comeback attempt short in a 3-2 loss to Montreal.

The Canucks, coming off two days rest, jumped on the Canadiens early in the first and were it not for the stellar netminding of Jaroslav Halak, the visitors would have been ahead by at least a goal. That played out as the story of the game.

After Montreal opened the scoring 5:56 into the first period, Mikael Samuelsson got just enough of a slap shot on the power play to elude Halak for his 19th goal of the season, yet that was the only score Halak allowed until late in the final frame.

Two more goals had the Canadiens ahead 3-1 midway through the third period before Ryan Kesler chipped a second Canucks goal, his 14th on the year, past Halak, this one also on the man advantage. A pair was all the Montreal tender would allow, however, as he stole this game for the home team.

Halak stopped 45 of 47 shots, including 19 in the third, to hand Vancouver its first loss in eight games in the second contest of their 14-game road trip.

Four games on the shelf did nothing but aggravate Canucks defenceman Sami Salo as he returned to the lineup with a vengeance picking up two assists while logging 24:04 of ice time, the third highest team total.

Salo showed no lingering affects of the groin injury he suffered on January 21 versus the Dallas Stars, his blazing shot was as potent as ever as he tested Halak four times, and his two assists matched a season-high and were one off his career-high for assists and points in a game. Salo now has 12 assists and 17 points this season.

The return of Salo bumped Nolan Baumgartner from the line-up, although the Canucks will likely keep him with the team to ensure Salo is feeling good following his first game back.

With a lot of attention centering around Ryan Kesler of late, the sandpaper forward brought his usual gritty game and it was almost enough to help the Canucks earn at least a single point.

Kesler threw 11 shots on goal with a team-high six getting through to Halak, one of which beat the keeper to cut Montreal’s lead to 3-2 with 5:50 to play in the third.

Uncharacteristic of Kesler on this night were his faceoff percentage (he went 6-for-21 = 29%) and being called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When Yannick Weber got a stick on Kesler, he fell like a ton of bricks, which incited a diving call. Turns out Weber caught Kesler in “the members” and his fall was no act. Forget about scoring after the “incident,” Kesler gets unsung hero for staying in the game.

With 47 shots the Canucks established a new season-high, not that it counts for much with the Canadiens skating off with two points.

Not since October 1, 2009 in a 5-3 loss in Calgary has Vancouver fired so many pucks at the opposition; the Canucks have only topped 40 shots four times this season with 43 counting as their next highest total from a 5-3 home loss to Columbus on October 5.

Fourteen Canucks recorded at least a single shot versus Montreal with Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin accounting for a team-high six each.

Ryan Kesler on the play of Jaroslav Halak, getting his “equipment” rearranged and taking the good from a loss:

”He played a solid game for them, but Lu played a solid game too. We threw everything at him and he came up big at the right times.

”I don’t think the ref saw it but the stick got me, I guess you could say in the members, and I think every guy knows that doesn’t feel good when you get clipped there. The game is fast, he didn’t see it and that’s why I saw so upset.

”Obviously we’d like to tighten up defensively, but we had a lot of chances tonight, we threw everything at the net we had, not just chances but grade-A chances and their goalie stood on his head and stole a game tonight.”

The Canucks bus to Ottawa on Wednesday where they’ll prepare to face the red-shot Senators, winners of nine-straight games to end January, on Thursday.

The first of six games in 11 days will pin the Canucks up against another hot goaltender in Ottawa’s Brian Elliott. He’s won seven consecutive starts having allowed more than a single goal in only two contests, with one shutout.

The Canucks were 2-0 versus the Senators last season, outscoring them 8-2.

NUMB3RS

1 – Loss for the Canucks in their last eight games.

2
– Assists for Sami Salo, ties a season-high.

4 – Wins for Vancouver against teams from the Northeast Division (4-1-0)

6 – Wins for the Canucks while on CanucksTV PPV (6-2-1)

10 – Wins for the Canucks this season against Eastern Conference opponents (10-2-0).

47
– Shots for the Canucks, a season-high.

OFFENCE

The Canucks literally threw everything they had at Jaroslav Halak and it still wasn't enough as the Canadiens netminder was in the zone.

Mikael Samuelsson became the fourth player to join Vancouver's 20-goal club, while Ryan Kesler picked up his 14th of the year.

Vancouver outshot Montreal 47-28.

DEFENCE

The return of Sami Salo was supposed to help the backend seal things up, but they sprang a few leaks as Montreal took advantage of poor coverage on a few plays.

Roberto Luongo allowed another early goal, his second in as many games, but he rebounded to make 25 saves overall in a decent outing.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Canucks struck twice on the power play going 2-for-5; the Canadiens whiffed and finished 0-for-3.

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