Having surrendered 13 goals against in Vancouver’s three-game skid, a bounce back performance was something Roberto Luongo
desperately needed and that’s exactly what he gave. The Canucks’ captain almost single-handed delivered two points for his team stopping 46 of 47 shots.
“I think they were throwing everything at the net,” said Luongo. “I’ve said many times it really gets me into it. I felt pretty good the whole game.”
Roberto’s former coach came to the same conclusion.
“Luongo was the difference,” assessed Mike Keenan. “We had a number of chances to get involved in the game offensively and just stymied us. He was putting on a goaltending clinic tonight.”
Luongo’s counterpart, Miikka Kiprusoff, had an ordinary night stopping 21 of 25 shots for the loss. ANOTHER SLUGGISH START?
Shots on goal after the first period were announced as 21-9 in favour of the Flames, although it hardly appeared the Canucks were as out-played as the shots would suggested.
The Canucks certainly didn’t get off to a slow start where it mattered most. For the first time in four games, Vancouver opened the scoring courtesy of Rick Rypien playing on an energy line with Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk.
“We wanted to start with the lead tonight,” said Rypien. “We didn’t get the shots we wanted in the first period there but it was good to get the lead and build off it from there.”
HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?
Flames’ forward Olli Jokinen had a four-game point drought snapped after drawing an assist on Jarome Iginla’s goal in the second period, but that pales in comparison to Mattias Ohlund finally ending a 25-game streak without a goal.
The franchise’s all-time leading goals and points scorer hasn’t turned the red light on since February 12th in Phoenix; funny how it took him less than a period to tally another one.
“Thanks for keeping track there,” joked Ohlund. “Goals have been tough to come by this year. It’s always nice to score even though it hasn’t been a big concern of mine but it’s always nice to chip in that way too.”
Perhaps it makes sense he would bump the slump in what was Vancouver’s biggest game of the year. Ohlund just so happens to be the franchise’s active leading playoff scorer with 25 points (8-17-25) in 42 games. The next active leader is Henrik Sedin
, who has 20 points (10-10-20) in 43 games. TURNING POINT
With the Flames carrying all the momentum and having just tied the game at 1-1, Mattias Ohlund quickly put an end to the Flames’ surge with a goal just 25 seconds after Iginla’s marker in the second period. The Canucks would not look back after that.
“I think that started to change momentum a little bit and we answered right back which was huge for us,” said Hordichuk. “I think that was the turning point of the game.”
“It was huge,” added Rypien of the Ohlund goal. “We needed that one I think. The guys got fired up off that one. It was a good shot. To do it right away right after was big.”
Runner-up: Vancouver killing a 5-on-3 man-advantage for 1:06 early in the third period. FAN NO MORE
Coleman, Alberta native Rick Rypien admits he cheered for the Flames as a child. Not anymore. It’s a safe bet the Flames aren’t all too fond of him either these days. Rypien has three goals in three games against Calgary this season.
“When I was younger, I was a Flames fan for sure,” admits Rypien. “Not now.”
Asked about the secret to his success against the team he used to root for, he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
“I don’t know,” said Rypien. “It’s just one of those things I guess. I just try to work hard against them. They’re a hard working team and I’ve been fortunate to be lucky with them.” POWER OUTAGE
Make that eight games and counting since the Flames last tallied a goal on a man-advantage. 0-for-30 in their last seven coming into tonight’s tilt, the Flames went 0-for-6 against the Canucks which included failing to score on a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:06 in the third period though it certainly was not for a lack of opportunities.
“It was obviously better tonight,” said Flames’ forward Mike Cammalleri of the power play. “It was better than last night (versus Los Angeles) than it’s been of late. Puck still hasn’t gone in for us. Huge importance – it’s got to start going in, no doubt. THE MATH
Vancouver’s win pulls them back even with the Flames in points but Calgary holds the edge in wins meaning if the Flames can sweep their upcoming home-and-home series with the recently eliminated Edmonton Oilers, they’ll clinch their second Northwest Division title in team history.
“It’ll be fun going into Edmonton,” said Cammalleri. “They’ll want to be spoilers the best they can, I know that. No love lost between the two teams.”
“I think it would be a big disappointment for us if we don’t win the Stanley Cup,” added Cammalleri. “But you know, whether or not you need to win the Northwest to do that, I don’t know. At the same time, we’re going to put every effort we can to win it.”
The Canucks could technically still finish in fourth place and earn home-ice advantage that way, although that appears unlikely. The Blackhawks, who have 99 points to Vancouver’s 96, would need to lose all three of their remaining games while the Canucks would need to sweep their next two opponents for that scenario to happen.
For the second straight game, the score clock at GM Place was malfunctioning. Before the game even started, the shot clock read 10-7 in favour of the Flames and, for the rest of the evening, served as little more than a random number generator. As explained by NHL Off-Ice Official and PA Announcer John Ashbridge, an incompatibility between the scoreboard software and the NHL stats system is to blame.