OCT.23.06You never want to be down heading into the third, but with these guys it's not exactly the curse it once was.
Nine games into the season the Canucks have rallied three times from third-period deficits to post overtime wins, including a 4-3 victory Saturday in Nashville.
To give a little perspective, the Canucks were 3-22-1 last season when trailing after two periods.
"I was just talking to Naz after the game and I said I didn't know if we might have done that three times all of last year," said Brendan Morrison, who sent Saturday's game to OT scoring with 1:20 left. "It just speaks to the character in here that attitude of never giving up."
"We haven't mailed any games in, and that's our mantra. In the first nine games here it's been a blue-collar effort."
The direct result of that effort's been shots - lot's of 'em.
In Friday's come-from-behind victory over St. Louis, Sami Salo's dramtic overtime game winner was Vancouver's 39th shot on Curtis Sanford. Take away six first-period Canuck penalties and they could've hit 50.
Saturday night at The Gaylord Vancouver pumped 46 pucks on the Nashville net. Not even the Jolly Green Giant's foot could plug up the net for 60 minutes in the face of that kind of onslaught.
"It's not easy to come back in the NHL," said Alain Vigneault. "That's twice we've done it [this weekend]. Hopefully that's going to give our guys some confidence offensively."
And that's where the glee starts to dip for Canuck fans.
Despite getting all four goals from non-Swedes Saturday, the Canucks still have some scoring concerns, averaging 2.55 goals per game, while surrendering 2.44.
That kind of margin doesn't allow for mistakes.
Of course there's the Roberto Luongo factor in Vancouver's corner.
His 2.34 goals-against average, and .918 save percentage are solid for sure, but they're not the most accurate barometer of his worth.
Friday he barred the door with the Canucks trailing 2-0 early in the third, including outright thievery on Doug Weight with three minutes left.
Saturday he shut out one of the most effective offensive machines in the Western Conference for the final 33 minutes allowing the Canucks back in the game, and took a certain goal from Kimmo Timonen with a glove save with the score 3-2 late in the third.
"As soon as he made that save, everyone on the bench looked at each other and said 'that's the save we needed,'" said Morrison.
"Lou's in net holding off the other team, and he makes that huge save there in the third and kept us in it. If they score a fourth there, it's probably over. We get a big save and a big boost, and guys are relentless."
All said, the Canucks are a confident bunch right now. And they'll need it against a Dallas team that's 7-1 to start the year, and has outscored their opponents 27-14.
Willie Mitchell won't dress tonight in Dallas.
He left Saturday's game after Jason Arnott ran him head-first into the end boards in the third. He suffered a mild concussion and has to be symptom free for 24 hours before resuming workouts.
Vigneault won't make a call to the farm, but instead dress Luc Bourdon and spread the added special teams minutes between Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo.
Mitchell logs a team-high average of 5:39 penalty kill minutes per game, and tops all Canucks in shots blocked.
EYES WIDE SHUT
It could have been worse - it could have been an inch or two lower.
As it happened, a Nashville clearing attempt deflected off the boards and the puck caught Josh Green flush above his right eye.
The resulting cut took 26 stitches in all - 10 above and 16 below - to close.
Swelling is the main problem for now. Green skated with a visor this morning and said the swelling abated as the practice went on. Green is a good bet to dress in Dallas, though Tommi Santala is ready to play his fifth game for Vancouver if Green can't go.
TWO'S A CHARM
Both Lukas Krajicek and Jan Bulis jumped milestones Saturday.
Bulis scored his first as a Canuck skating with a surprise line of Morrison and Markus Naslund to start the game - a Vigneault curve-ball to throw the Predators off their game plan. It worked.
As a result Pyatt got his fourth playing a regular shift with the Twins late in the first.
Not one to be left out, Krajicek potted his first as a Canucks 2:32 into OT with a wrister over Tomas Vokoun's glove