The Canucks forward scored twice and added an assist to lead Vancouver to its sixth straight win, a 6-4 decision over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
Malhotra, sporting a 40th anniversary third jersey sans name bar along with the rest of the Canucks, scored Vancouver’s third goal, a beautiful shorthanded tally late in the second, and added the insurance score on the power play midway through the third to help the Canucks improve to 6-0-1 at home and 8-3-2 overall.
A team-high three points against Detroit moves Malhotra into a tie for third in team scoring.
“It’s always nice to contribute offensively, but more importantly we got another win and kept the streak alive and we did it playing the right way,” said Malhotra.
Malhotra stood out for the Canucks not only because of his offensive touch, but because of his won’t-back-down attitude. It proved to be exactly what Vancouver needed against the always strong Red Wings and netminder Jimmy Howard, who was riding an unbeaten streak of 22 games dating back to March 11, 2010.
Coach Alain Vigneault forecasted after the morning skate and this might not be Howard’s night and he was bang on.
Following a dull opening period highlighted by Daniel Sedin’s ninth goal of the year with 25 seconds remaining, a wacky second period put the scoreboard to work.
Danny Cleary evened the game up 2:51 in and Niklas Kronwall doubled Detroit’s output to take a 2-1 lead. Two Red Wings goals in 1:38 was quickly forgotten as Mikael Samuelsson tipped in a Tanner Glass shot to even the score. That’s how the game remained until a frantic final few minutes saw Malhotra score shorthanded to put the Canucks up 3-2, 70 seconds before Jonathan Ericsson tied the game on the same Detroit power play.
In the third it was all Canucks as they drew four Red Wings penalties and peppered Howard with 23 shots; Jannik Hansen, Alex Edler and Malhotra potted goals to keep Vancouver the lone team without a regulation loss at home.
When the smoke cleared, five players scored for Vancouver and 11 picked up at least a point with someone from every line in on the scoring.
“We have all four lines going right now and that’s what we’re going to need the entire season,” said Ryan Kesler, who had two assists. “It’s good to see Manny get a couple, it’s good to see Hank and Danny get a couple and we’re just a whole team right now that’s going in the same direction.”
That direction is up, up, up and away and that’ll continue so long as Vancouver’s scoring remains as balanced as it was against Detroit.
“If you look at this room, regardless of who you play with there’s an opportunity to have offensive chances,” said Malhotra. “Both Raffi and Jannik have contributed to that, they’re going to the net hard and we’re doing a good job of creating opportunities for ourselves and getting the opportunity on the power play, you’ve got the make the most of it.”
Roberto Luongo stopped 24 shots for his fifth win of the season.
Stats? You want stats? You’ve come to right recap.
Numbers are Vancouver’s worst enemy when the team is losing, so why not showcase how dominant the team's play of late has been.
With this win Vancouver moves to third overall in the standings with 18 points; the team’s 6-0-1 home record is the best in the NHL and the Canucks are the second hottest team in the league at 7-2-1 over their last 10 games.
The Canucks lead the NHL in power play percentage converting 29.4 per cent of their opportunities, while their 12th ranked penalty kill sits at 85.4 per cent. As a team Vancouver is 55.9 per cent at the faceoff circle, good for second behind the San Jose Sharks.
Vancouver is fifth overall in goals per game at 3.08 and sixth in goals against at 2.31.
Impressive, I know, and that’s without even mentioning the Canucks individual stats.
Most notable of the bunch is Cory Schneider’s league leading .969 save percentage and 0.90 save percentage.
No surprise that Henrik Sedin leads the NHL in assists with 14 and Manny Malhotra is first overall in faceoff percentage at 65.0 per cent.
With great Canucks stats comes great responsibility. Don’t brag, it’s too early for that, but know the numbers, they’re proof the Canucks are playing some of their best hockey of the decade right now.
Jannik Hansen left the game in obvious discomfort with a minute to play in the first period after blocking a shot, but returned for the second and finished the game; Vancouver killed 19 straight penalties going back five games before Jonathan Ericsson broke that streak with a power play goal late in the second period; Rick Rypien played only 3:06 on six shifts in his first game back from suspension.