For the second consecutive game the Vancouver Canucks battled hard for 65 minutes just to see an extra point awarded to the enemy in a shootout as Alex Tanguay scored the shootout game-winner for the Calgary Flames in a 4-3 loss Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
Alex Edler matched a career-best with a two-goal outing and Ryan Kesler scored the other Canucks goal, while Brendan Morrison, Curtis Glencross and Tim Jackman replied for the Flames.
The Canucks fall to 2-5 in games decided by shootout this season, which has cost them three points in the last eight games alone.
On this night it took a controversial goal to sink the Canucks in the one-on-one battle.
Following shootout goals from Jeff Tamebllini and Rene Bourque, Mason Raymond and Olli Jokinen were stopped and Kesler missed the net, leaving Tanguay as the final shooter.
The Flames forward showed backhand the entire way down the ice before testing Roberto Luongo with a backhand shot, one that the keeper snagged in his pads, which kept it from crossing the goal-line.
Or did it?
Upon further review, the refs, despite not being able to see the puck cross the line on the replay and the call standing at no goal on the ice, reversed the call saying the puck was in Luongo’s pad, which had crossed the line.
Confused? So were the Canucks and fans from coast to coast.
“I didn’t see it, there was no replay on the screen, so I really can’t comment on it,” said Luongo post-game, adding that “I didn’t even know where the puck was, so I can’t even comment because I had no idea where it was.”
Anger was replaced with confidence in the Canucks locker room as the team credited this as one of their best outings of late, one they can build on to help end a four-game winless skid.
“I thought we played a better game tonight overall, our second period as a lot better,” said Henrik Sedin. “It went to overtime and a shootout again, these are things that happen and we’ve got to take the positive out of this one, we battled hard for 60 minutes and it wasn’t enough tonight.”
Vancouver has won only once in six games after a run of 17 consecutive contests with at least a point. The adversity the Canucks are facing, according to coach Alain Vigneault, will help the team in the long run.
“I really believe that as we move forward this is going to make us a better team,” said Vigneault, matter-of-factly. “You’ve got to be able to play in these and you’ve got to be able to make the plays at the right time and I think that this is going to make us better. We lost the game in a shootout, we didn’t lose it in the 65 minutes.”
For the third time in five games Vancouver’s defence was forced to play with only five men after Kevin Bieksa left the game 11:26 into the first period following a fight with Tom Kostopoulous.
Bieksa took a punch to the eye and it immediately began swelling and got so bad that he was unable to return to action.
Coach Vigneault said “his eye was shut down” and that he’ll be reevaluated Sunday.
In Bieksa’s absence, Christian Ehrhoff logged a season-high 33:08, with everyone seeing increased minutes.
“Injuries are going to happen and a couple guys had to take a couple more minutes and that’s just what we had to do,” said Ehrhoff.
If Daniel and Henrik Sedin end up playing on opposite teams for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, Ryan Kesler might to be to blame.
Kesler, alongside Washington Capitals defenceman Mike Green, was chosen as an alternate captain for Team Staal, led by captain Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes.
As an alternate captain, Kesler will have direct input into how the roster for Team Staal is chosen and he has yet to tip his hat as to what direction he Staal and Green might go.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Martin St. Louis of the Tampy Bay Lightning will serve as alternate captains to Team Lidstrom, captained by Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.
The 58th edition of the NHL’s mid-season spectacular goes down January 30th in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Alex Edler knocked on the door of his first career hat trick, which would have been the first three-goal game by a Canucks defenceman since Dave Babych turned the trick on November 22, 1991, against the Flames; rookie Sergei Shirokov was a healthy scratch for the first time this season, he was replaced with Aaron Volpatti to add some grit to Vancouver’s fourth line.