The Canucks, who started the season winless in four games on the road, are playing their best hockey of the year away from Rogers Arena; proof of that came Monday night as Vancouver downed St. Louis 3-1 to extend its road winning streak to four games.
Aaron Volpatti and Jeff Tambellini, two players not even with the Canucks less than a month ago, scored for Vancouver and Ryan Kesler notched the golden goal as Vancouver improved to 9-1-1 in its last 11 games.
Roberto Luongo stopped 15 shots for his ninth win in 10 starts; although Luongo wasn’t overly tested, he had to be sharp late in the third on a shorthanded shot from Patrik Berglund that could have evened the game up at 2-2.
Instead Tambellini scored late to ice a game that will go down as another two points for every player but Volpatti.
The 25-year-old native of Revelstoke, BC, who made his NHL debut Saturday night and is the first Canucks player to wear #54, did what every coach he’s ever had has always preached: go to the net hard with your stick on the ice. He was rewarded for it.
Seven minutes into the second period, Tanner Glass bolted into the Blues end and leveled Alex Pietrangelo along the boards to free up the puck for Alex Bolduc, who spotted Volpatti alone in front of the net for his first career goal.
While it looked like simple tic-tac-toe, it was anything but for Volpatti in the trenches.
“Glass did a heckuva job as the first guy in on the forecheck there, I took away their D to D and I just popped out front when I saw Duker got in the corner,” explained an excited Volpatti. “He found me and I just tried to slide it though and put it on the ice five-hole.
“I don’t think I was thinking about it as much as that though, I just shot and it went five-hole.”
As quickly as the goal was scored, it was wrapped in tape and labeled, ready for the mantel.
Two minutes and four seconds later the Canucks took a 2-0 lead off Kesler’s 16th goal of the season en route to the 3-1 win as Vancouver enacted revenge on St. Louis for a 3-2 home loss on December 5th.
For Volpatti, things continue to look up. Two games played, two wins and an NHL tally.
“It keeps getting better and better and I’m just going to keep doing what I have to do to stick around and help the team win,” he said. “I think if we play like that, play hard on the forecheck and create havoc for the other team, I think we’ll be good.”
The Canucks won despite a subpar effort on the power play as they went 0-for-4 in the first period alone. Tambellini’s goal helped Vancouver finish 1-for-5 and end a streak of nine man advantages without a goal.
Over the last four games the Canucks are 2-for-19 on the power play and as a result the unit has slipped from first to fourth in the NHL.
The good news is that Vancouver’s next five games are against teams outside the top 10 on the penalty kill, with only Detroit and Philadelphia within the top 15.
Tis the season of holiday parties and you need to be prepared when cornered by your friend, the know-it-all Canucks fan. Here are some stats to make his/her head spin, sorry I didn't have time wrap them.
-The Canucks are 4-0-0 when allowing less than 20 shots
-Vancouver is 11-0-0 when Ryan Kesler scores and 16-1-1 when he has at least a point
-The Canucks are 16-1-2 when scoring first and 14-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes
-No player with a last name that begins with the letter U has ever played for the Canucks (RJ Umberger, Scottie Upshall and Alexander Urbom are the only U players in the NHL this season)
-Now that Aaron Volpatti has claimed #54, only 38 numbers have never been worn in team history, including 50, 63, 76, 82, 93 and 98.
-Vancouver, now 6-1-1 in December, has only ever once suffered just a single regulation defeat during the happiest month of the year.
With the Canucks currently carrying seven defencemen, Andrew Alberts was a healthy scratch in favour of Aaron Rome, who returned after sitting out just one game; Daniel Sedin failed to record a point for the first time in 11 games, he could have set a new career mark had his point streak surpassed 10 games; Alex Bolduc’s assist on Aaron Volpatti’s goal was his first point since January 4, 2009.