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The Goods: Canucks clinch Northwest

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 4-3 overtime win over Minnesota.

IT WAS OVER WHEN...

Sami Salo blasted a power play goal past Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom 2:15 into overtime to give Vancouver a 4-3 win and its third Northwest Division title in four seasons.

The Canucks heavily outplayed the Wild to open the game, and that includes while killing penalties. Despite being down a man five minutes into the first, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler came together for a shorthanded score, the team’s ninth shorty of the season.

Kyle Wellwood grazed a Kevin Bieksa point shot to double Vancouver’s lead midway through the second; the goal was originally credited to Bieksa, counting as the defenceman’s second of the year, but was later awarded to Wellwood.

With shots 27-12 in favour of the Canucks to start the third, this game was well in hand. One Minnesota power play goal and the lead was trimmed to 2-1.

That’s how the game stood until Alex Edler seemingly sealed the win with an empty net goal to put the Canucks up 3-1 with 55 seconds to play.

The Wild, asleep for the first 59 minutes, were suddenly interested in winning and it took them 23 seconds to prove that. Back-to-back goals tied the game up with 19 ticks remaining on the clock to force overtime.

Salo’s overtime winner came on Vancouver’s third shot, with Greg Zanon in the box for high-sticking Burrows.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Canucks won for the 48th time this season (one win off Vancouver’s franchise record) and reach 100 points for the sixth time.

CLUTCH CANUCK

Sami Salo clutched up late, but it was Ryan Kesler getting it done in the first period to tilt the ice for Vancouver.

With Kevin Bieksa in the box for inference 4:52 into the first, Kesler read his penalty killing partner, Alex Burrows, perfectly as after Burrows nabbed the puck and streaked down the left wing, Kes kept pace down main street.

Burrows didn’t even think shot as he sent a violent pass to Kesler, who put it in with ease to extend his point streak to four games.

The shorthanded goal was Kesler’s first of the season and fifth of his career; it was Vancouver’s ninth shorty, moving to team to second in the NHL, two back of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The assist gave Burrows seven shorthanded points this season, tops in the league.

UNSUNG HERO

Sami Salo was a force offensively as he had the second assist on the Kesler goal and netted the golden goal, yet his best play on this night came in the Vancouver end.

When Christian Ehrhoff left the game early in the third period after tweaking his knee, Salo picked up the slack finished with a team-high 26:18, his third-highest total of the season.

Salo’s 31 shifts was also a team-high and included five shots and two blocked shots, while playing nearly seven minutes on the power play and penalty kill.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Giving up a two-goal lead that late in the game, this late in the season, is disheveling to some, the fact remains that the Canucks regrouped in time to pull out the win and inch with a victory of equaling the franchise mark of 49 in a season.

With a third division title in four years and fourth in six seasons, the Canucks also become the winningest team in the past decade of Northwest Division play.

Colorado finishes second with three titles, while Calgary and Minnesota each claimed one.

FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Ryan Kesler on Vancouver winning despite not following the script:

”The important thing is that we got it done. Giving up two goals in the last minute is not something we envisioned, the important thing is that we re-grouped as a team and we got it done on the power play.

“We seemed to dominate the game and they just got a couple lucky bounces in the last minute. The important thing is that we won in overtime.”

NEXT UP

The Canucks will practice Monday in preparation for the Colorado Avalanche, who come to town Tuesday.

The Avalanche beat San Jose Sunday to take a two-point lead over Calgary for the final playoff spot so the Canucks better be ready to face a hungry Avalanche team.

Although the Canucks have locked down a playoff spot and the Northwest Division, they want to head into the post-season on a winning note and that can start with a solid outing versus Colorado.

NUMB3RS

1 – Point for Henrik Sedin, he is now four ahead of Alex Ovechkin with 106.

6 – Game point streak for Ryan Kesler.

8 – Wins for the Canucks when appearing on Canucks Pay-Per-View (8-3-1).

9 – Shorthanded goals for Vancouver, second to Chicago's 11.

300 – Consecutive sellouts for the Canucks, second to Minnesota's 401.

QUOTABLE

“We got the job done and at the end of the day, we wanted the win and we got it. We’re happy we got that out of the way."

-Roberto Luongo (on the win)

“I like the finish. A big shot by Sami to get us the win. Obviously the last minute isn’t what we planned, but we got the two points."

-Alex Burrows (on the two points)

“We had set out at the beginning of the season to get into the playoffs and win our division and that’s what we did."

-Alain Vigneault (on the win)

OFFENCE

The Canucks had an abundance of scoring chances throughout this game, they either couldn't pull the trigger or Niklas Backstrom got the best of them.

Both Mikael Samuelsson and Michael Grabner were noticeably dangerous in this one. They combined for eight shots.

Vancouver outshot Minnesota 40-27.

DEFENCE

Christian Ehrhoff left the game early in the third and did not return, Sami Salo and others picked up his minutes, but the defence was rocky in the late going.

Roberto Luongo stopped 24 shots for his 39th win on his 31st birthday.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Canucks were 2-for-7 on the power play, scoring the game-winner on the man advantage; the Wild were 1-for-8.

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