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The Goods: Playoff bound

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 5-4 shootout win over Anaheim.

IT WAS OVER WHEN...

…Pavol Demitra gave Curtis McElhinney a little shake’n bake before beating him for a backhand goal to lift the Canucks to a 2-1 shootout win in a 5-4 victory over the Ducks.

What a difference 24 hours makes as Vancouver outshot Anaheim in the opening 20 minutes to the tune of 17-12 and were it not for the goaltending of McElhinney, this contest could have been over before intermission.

The Ducks opened the scoring early in the second period, but the Canucks, losers of four straight on the road, evened the game up at 10:07 of the frame when Michael Grabner zipped a perfect wrist shot high glove side for his third career goal.

That was a sign of things to come.

Vancouver gave up a 5-on-3 goal late in the second to trail 2-1 heading into the third, yet another absurd comeback effort was possible because of Grabner. A wrist shot and a tipped puck later and the Canucks held a 3-2 lead with Grabner collecting his first career hat trick.

The Ducks, not surprisingly, refused to fly south tying the game up with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Cue Vancouver’s clutch game-winning scorer. No, not Daniel Sedin. Jannik Hansen. He scored his ninth goal of the season, a tally that stood as his fourth game-deciding score on the year before Anaheim sent the game to overtime with 1:24 to play.

The extra five solved nothing, in spite of two clanks off the post from the Canucks, but the road warriors completed their 11th comeback of the season when Kyle Wellwood and Demitra scored and Andrew Raycroft stopped two of three shooters in the one-on-one showdown.

The extra point was icing on the cake with Vancouver needing only one to lockdown a playoff spot.

CLUTCH CANUCK

Michael Grabner singlehandedly led Vancouver’s offence in this game, it was one of the best individual efforts by a Canucks forward all season.

In seven games since being recalled from the Manitoba Moose, Grabner was snake bitten despite 19 shots on goal. The speed and awareness were there, the puck luck wasn’t.

That changed drastically against the Ducks, first on a 2-on-1 with Pavol Demitra where Grabner, zooming down the right side, elected to shoot instead of pass, beating McElhinney top shelf.

His second goal, his finest of the game, was one for the highlight reel as he cut in from the boards and overpowered Steve Eminger to the middle of the ice before ripping a shot off the left post and in.

The hat trick was completed with a swipe of the stick off a Christian Ehrhoff point shot; three goals on a team-high six shots for Grabner and the silly thing is that he could have scored on all six attempts.

UNSUNG HEROES

Vancouver’s top line, reunited after Daniel missed the LA game, was pretty quiet in this one with only one assist between the trio.

In addition to Grabner’s primary scoring, four players chipped in secondary points, namely Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen, Pavol Demitra and Christian Ehrhoff.

If Grabner has one person to thank for his trifecta, it’s Kesler, who was in on all three goals. He’s now at 70 points this season, 11 more than his previous career-high.

Hansen scored what looked to be the game-winner late in the third for his ninth goal of the season. With how strong Grabner has come on and a boat load of Canucks returning to the line-up soon, Hansen reminded everyone of his clutch touch.

Demitra had one assist during regulation, he stepped up when it counted in the shootout though with his goal counting as the game changer. Demitra is now 2-for-3 in shootouts this season.

Ehrhoff had a multi-point game, his seventh of the season, moving his season points total to 43, a new career-high.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

It’s almost scary how easy Michael Grabner can get to the net with the puck and generate offence for the Canucks. The knock against him was that his shot was no match for his speed, but that was remedied against the Ducks.

Grabner’s three goals was his first career hat trick, he also becomes the sixth Canuck to achieve the feat this season following in the footsteps of Alex Burrows (2), Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson.

Six hat trick scorers in a season is a new franchise mark for the Canucks surpassing the quintet of Alex Mogilny, Cliff Ronning, Russ Courtnall, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund from the 1995-96 season.

FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Michael Grabner on the win, his first career hat trick and his role with the Canucks:

”We’ve been struggling on the road lately and it’s nice to get the win and get into the playoffs.

”It was a good night, it made up for the chances I missed in other games, so it was a good night and an even better win.

”I’m just trying to do my job out there and help the team and focus on my game. I just try to play as good as I can.”

NEXT UP

The Canucks will make their way back to Vancouver Friday night before taking Saturday to recharge the batteries prior to a Sunday night tilt with the Minnesota Wild.

While the playoffs are no longer in doubt, a division title has yet to be secured with Vancouver needing just one point to win it for the third time in four seasons.

NUMB3RS

1 – First career hat trick for Michael Grabner.

1 – Point away from a third Northwest Division title in four seasons.

6 – Canucks with hat tricks, the most in a season in franchise history.

30 – Stops for Andrew Raycroft.

43 – Points for Christian Ehrhoff, a new career mark.

365 – Days since the Canucks and Ducks needed a shootout to decide a winner in a 6-5 Anaheim win.

OFFENCE

Chances finally equaled goals for Michael Grabner as he truly made the most of his best NHL game to date.

For the second straight game secondary scoring was primary scoring for Vancouver.

The Canucks outshot the Ducks 40-34.

DEFENCE

Christian Ehrhoff, the only defenceman with a plus-rating in Vancouver's 8-3 loss a night earlier, put in another stellar effort and hit a new career-high in points at 43.

Andrew Raycroft was just good enough in net to lead the Canucks to the win. His stop on Teemu Selanne in the shootout was one of his best this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Vancouver was 0-for-4 on the power play, while Anaheim went 3-for-8.

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