Each turning point boosted the home team differently and it was a combo of all three that allowed the Canucks to dethrone the Senators to end a two-game losing streak. THE SAVE
Just 3:03 into the opening period of play, Ottawa was buzzing.
Fresh off a loss to the Calgary Flames the night before, the Senators were looking to score early and deflate the Canucks and their fans.
Daniel Alfredsson took it upon himself to achieve this.
Nick Foligno burst into the Vancouver zone on a two-on-one with Alfredsson, demonstrating great patience with the puck he drew Mattias Ohlund over before saucering a soft pass over to the Ottawa captain.
Alfredsson one-timed the puck on his forehand with speed and was ready to thrust his arms in the air to celebrate a goal. Curtis Sanford had other ideas as he propelled across the crease to record his first and most impressive save of the game.
“That’s what I’m here to do, I have to make those saves and I made them tonight,” said Sanford, who made 18 saves on the night for his fifth career shutout.
“There was another one in the second period with [Dean] McAmmond right in the slot, so it’s nice to make key saves at key times and I think it gives the team a boost.”
Like cattle getting branded, the Canucks kicked out of the gates thanks to Sanford’s early motivation. Henrik Sedin
put Vancouver up 1-0 with his fifth goal of the season before the period was half over; that’s how the score remained through 20 minutes. THE GOAL
Both Pavol Demitra and Alex Edler scored in the second and it’s certainly up for debate as to which goal was the dagger for the Senators.
Demitra’s his first goal in six games came off a centre ice backhand pass from Daniel Sedin
that sprung him in alone on Martin Gerber.
Demitra didn’t fake left or right, or dipsy-dooble his way around the goal with a fancy deke, he showed that he was going top shelf blocker side and that’s exactly what he did.
Having spent a few games on Vancouver’s second line away from the Sedins, Demitra was just happy to be back with players that slow the game down and make it easier for him to be successful.
“They’ve played together for many years obviously and I just try to fit in,” said Demitra. “They like to cycle, I like to cycle and they got great vision with the puck and it was an easy game for me.”
His 11th goal of the campaign wasn’t a game-winner, to some it was just another breakaway doozy, there are one of those a night. But as it came against the team that made him an NHL player some many moons ago – in the 9th round of the 1993 draft to be precise – this goal was extra special.
“That was a good one for sure,” smiled Demitra.
“That was a lot time ago (when I was with the Senators), that’s when Rick (Bowness) was the head coach and Alain (Vigneault) was the assistant coach…that was a long time ago.”
If Demitra’s goal was the back breaker for the Sens, Edler’s bullet was the blow that left the team unconscious.
With 2:50 to play in the middle frame, Edler picked up the puck behind the Vancouver net and decided to give it a go. He turned on the jets, eluded Dany Heatley at mid-ice, then stepped over the blueline and rocketed a shot past Gerber.
No chance for Gerber baby on that one, a brick wall would have struggled to keep that missile from going in.
“I was just trying to get the puck in and go change, that was my first thought,” said Edler. “I got a shot so I just thought I’d shoot it on net and it went in.
“I always like to jump in the rush and when you get an opportunity to shoot, you shoot it.”
The first five-on-five goal by a Vancouver defenceman since Kevin Bieksa
scored in early November impressed coach Vigneault quite a bit.
“It was something that I’d like to see us do more, whether it be from our forwards or our Ds,” said coach V.
“Come in the zone and shoot, whether you’re at the blueline or just inside the blueline. Sometimes those shots are tough to handle, you get some rebounds and second opportunities.
“That one there he didn’t need a second opportunity, it was a great shot.” THE FIGHT
There weren’t any goals in the third period, but there was a fight that will be talked about for a while in Vancouver.
Darci Hordichuk, your friend and mine, stepped up to the plate and tussled with Chris Neil.
“I love the way Neil fights,” said Hordichuk, sporting a fresh raspberry on his left cheek. “He’s the kind of guy that every night he’ll go toe-to-toe with you and I knew that I was in for a battle.”
With this game in hand there was really no need for Hordichuk to destroy Neil, yet this wasn’t about pumping up the Canucks. These two heavyweights go way back and fighting has become a yearly event they both look forward to.
“I fight him every year. I fought him about eight times in the minors, he was at the time first in the IHL for penalty minutes and I was second, so I ended up getting 60 PIMs that game to be the IHL penalty leader.
“(Tonight) I asked him if I hit him with any and he said I hit him with a few. I think I got him with a left and he hit me with a couple,” said Hordichuk, as he assessed the damage.
A save, a goal (or two) and a fight - and a much deserved win for the Canucks.
Next up, the Broad Street bullies on Tuesday night.