Top Line is Top of the Line
| Coaches often say that if their team is going to win, their best players need to be their best players, and that’s exactly how the Vancouver Canucks got past the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night.
Their top three players, Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin combined for two goals and five points on the night, propelling their team to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory in overtime.
It’s that type of performance the Canucks need from their top line in order to win games down the stretch and secure a playoff spot, and Tuesday’s win might go a long way to doing just that.
Danny scored his second game-winner in a row against the Wild 3:18 into overtime after finishing off the Oilers Saturday night.
Tuesday’s night’s goal was his team leading 26th of the season. He also hit 60 points on the OT marker.
“Tonight we played a really good game,” he said. “I think we deserved the two points tonight.”
Finishing the game off in overtime was important, considering the Wild’s knack for winning in the shootout.
Five days ago, the Wild beat Vancouver in a shootout, and the Canucks didn’t want to see a repeat of that.
Henrik Sedin had a hand in knocking off the Wild before they could make it to the breakaway competition, as he assisted on his brother’s winning goal.
It was his second assist of the night, and team-leading 50th of the season. He also leads the team in the point category with 62.
Hank also made a notable contribution in the faceoff circle, winning 14 of 22 attempts, a 64% conversion rate.
“Winning faceoffs was key tonight,” said Daniel. “If you don’t win faceoffs against these guys, it’s tough. You’re not going to have the puck a lot.”
Particularly in the first and second periods, the Canucks dominated attack-zone time, and that was a major reason that they managed to outshoot the Wild 37-22.
As for Markus Naslund, he notched the tying goal with 5:19 left in the third period.
The captain got his own rebound on the power play and pulled an IKEA: He shelfed it. It was only fitting since he’s from Sweden.
Since the beginning of February the Canucks have played eight games, and Naslund and the Sedins have scored a combined 27 points over that period.
Naslund has scored five goals and three assists in that stretch, with two particularly clutch tallies. Tuesday night’s tying goal against Minnesota is one, and a goal back on February 10th against Chicago when he tied it up with 1:18 left in the third is another. The Canucks went on to win both.
The top performance from the top line couldn’t have come at a better time, since it was against the division rival Wild.
“It was a must win,” said Danny. “They got one point tonight, but at least we got the win. We’re still in it, so hopefully we can get a few wins together now and push for the Northwest Division.”
5 – Games in a row Henrik has notched a point (1-7-8)
10 – faceoff wins and zero losses for Byron Ritchie
20 – Game goalless drought snapped by Cooke
42 – Days the Canucks had gone without winning consecutive games, until Tuesday night
50 – Canuck fights on the season, with Cowan getting in his ninth Tuesday
The Canucks showed some solid offense, and generated 37 shots. While they were robbed on some of their best chances, they got some rare puck luck to make up for it on their opening goal off of Matt Cooke’s leg.
The Canucks defense didn’t give the Wild a sniff at the net for the first two periods, holding them to just eight shots. In the third however, the Canuck backend wasn’t as dominant and it surrendered 12 shots and a handful of chances.
Credit the Canucks power play for coming back late in the third period. They had just one chance with the man advantage in that frame and Naslund made good on it to tie the game at 2-2. The Canucks finished the game at 1-for-3 on the power play.
On the flip side, the Wild power play went 2-for-4 and was the reason they were in the game. One of their power play goals could be counted as lucky because it deflected of Salo’s skate, but the Wild had unchallenged puck possession for 15 seconds leading up to that goal. A power play in the third period nearly put the game away as the Canucks PK looked helpless, but Luongo made some clutch saves to kill it off.