The Canucks closed out the 2010 calendar year with a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center Friday night in front of 17,733 party-hat wearing, noise-maker blowing rowdies hoping to end the year with a Stars win.
Dallas’ in-arena pre-game intro is set to the song Run this Town, by Rihanna and Jay-Z, a tune that begs the question who's gonna run this town tonight?
It took the Canucks nearly the entire first period to open the scoring, but once they did, they answered Rihanna and Jay-Z with an emphatic we are, ya I said it, we are.
Daniel Sedin and Raffi Torres scored goals 41 seconds apart late in the first period and Henrik Sedin and Kevin Bieksa added power play markers in the second to chase Kari Lehtonen from the Dallas goal and give the Canucks a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Stars brought their A-game for the third scoring the period’s only goal, but it was too little, too late in this battle of division leaders between the second and third ranked teams in the Western Conference.
In his third start in the last four games, Cory Schneider backstopped Vancouver to its fourth consecutive win and 13th victory in the team’s last 16 games with a masterful 44 save performance that included a penalty shot stop on James Neal in the second period.
While the Canucks, who were outshot 45-22, were quick to credit Schneider with the win, the goaltender praised the offensive effort that had Vancouver go 3-for-5 on the power play.
“That was huge, those two back-to-back goals late in the first,” said Schneider of the D. Sedin and Torres strikes. “I think we were on our heels a bit to start, then we were playing better and then to get those, it’s always helpful to be up after the first because then the pressure is on the other team.”
Vancouver's power play is back on top of the NHL at 25.3 per cent and with the Canucks, despite being ahead of the scoreboard, behind in the chessmatch for much of the game, the power play was the key to Vancouver’s 23rd win of the season.
“I think our power play won us the game tonight,” said Kevin Bieksa, who scored his fourth goal of the season from the point late in the second. “We weren’t too happy five on five, obviously they had a lot of shots on net and Cory stole us this one. We can get better from this.
“Power play has been a key to our success,” added Bieksa, “especially in the first half of the season and three goals tonight on the power play certainly helps. We kind of took advantage of their undisciplined play in the first couple of periods and I wouldn’t say we sat back, but they’re a good team and they were pretty much all over us in the last period and a half.”
Henrik Sedin called it one of the team’s “worst games in a long time,” so even though the Canucks picked up two points, let’s bid adieu to 2010. On to bigger and better in 2011. Happy New Year!
Cory Schneider has Gianni Antonio Luongo to thank for getting a second crack at the Stars in Dallas.
Because Roberto Luongo traveled to Florida for the birth of his second child earlier this week, a healthy baby boy, Schneider got his third start in four games in Dallas and also got some retribution.
Over a year ago on November 6, 2009, Schneider was between the pipes for the Canucks and he turned aside more rubber than ever before stopping 45 of 47 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Stars.
On that night Schneider had unquestionably his best showing with Vancouver and he earned third star honours for it. That meant nothing without the two points.
On this night Schneider not only backed the Canucks to another two points to open a three game road trip, he also improved his record to 6-0-2 keeping him unbeaten in regulation. He’s the only keeper in the league with at least three games played that can boast as much.
“At the beginning of the year I set goals for myself and that was one of them, to help the team win on night’s that Lu didn’t play, so that’s gone real well this year and my team has helped me out a lot in the first half of the season,” said Schneider following a 44-save performance.
Schneider being peppered with shots in Dallas felt like déjà vu to everyone in the Lone Star State, but he wasn’t looking at it that way.
“The difference is that we got four [goals] this time and we got the win, I’d much rather take the win. I’m not sure what it is, I just happen to play well here.”
Henrik Sedin, the NHL assist leader, had a helper on the game’s opening goal, which gives him, according to Team 1040’s Joey Kenward, 100 assists during the 2010 calendar year (regular season and playoffs); this was the 13th straight year the Dallas Stars have hosted a game on New Year’s Eve; defenceman Ryan Parent cleared waivers on Friday and was assigned to the Manitoba Moose.