Twice the Charm
| The last time the Vancouver Canucks played on home ice, they were booed and jeered by their very own fans.
Friday night, those fans were again screaming but for a different reason.
Henrik Sedin scored two goals, including the overtime winner, as the Canucks snuck past the visiting Colorado Avalanche 2-1. The win at General Motors Place was just the second for Vancouver in eight tries on home ice so far this season.
Perhaps just as important as the home win itself was the way that Vancouver achieved it. Often appearing discombobulated in consecutive home losses to Nashville, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Jose, the Canucks played a full and focused 60 minutes. Well, 61 to be exact.
Brendan Morrison attributed the win to his team simplifying their game.
“Basically what we did tonight was we brought our road game home,” said Morrison. “We didn’t put on a fancy show for the fans. We wanted to come out, grind this out, play well defensively. That’s what we did.”
Coach Alain Vigneault believes that’s the kind of mentality his team needs to turn their disappointing start around.
“For us to have success, we have to be in constant battle mode,” said Vigneault.
Vancouver’s bench boss added that he was glad to see his players, for a change, benefit from their hard work.
“Our success at home has been limited but it hasn’t been by lack of willingness,” said Vigneault.
When asked if it was nice to win one for the home crowd, Vigneault, with a half-smile, countered, “It’s just nice to win.”
Goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was taunted by Canucks fans earlier this month after he gave up two goals on his first two shots against Nashville, said it was important for the Canucks to simply forget about their home ice troubles.
“I think it was a good thing we played last night so we really didn’t have a lot of time to think about it and just got here today and went out and played,” said Luongo.
With the win, Vancouver improved its record against the Northwest Division to 6-0-0. The team wraps up its four game homestand with contests against division rivals, Edmonton, Minnesota, and Calgary.
For the injury-depleted Canucks to turn their 2-6-0 home record around, they’ll need plenty more nights like this one from the Sedins.
Henrik’s two goals matched his career high. It was the first time since October 25, 2006 against Chicago that he’s lit the lamp more than once.
He might well have had a hat trick had a first period tally not been waved off. Henrik took a through-the-legs pass from Daniel and appeared to poke a loose puck past Colorado goaltender Jose Theodore before the netminder could cover it up. But the referee explained that he had just been about to blow his whistle before Henrik poked it in, negating the goal.
Henrik again was the center of controversy when he batted a puck past Theodore in the second period. The Avalanche contended that Henrik’s stick was over the cross bar when he made contact with the puck but a video review allowed the goal to stand.
In overtime, Henrik’s attempted pass for Daniel ricocheted off the leg of defenseman Kurt Sauer and sailed past a helpless Theodore, giving Vancouver the win.
While it certainly wasn’t pretty, it was just the kind of bounce Vancouver needed to get the monkey off their back and win at home.
The Canucks have now won three straight overall and for the first time this season appear to have truly found their game.
And as the home fans will tell you, it came just in time.
3 – Hits for Matt Cooke to lead the team.
3 – Blocked shots for Luc Bourdon, who is looking more and more comfortable on the Vancouver blue-line with each passing game.
3 – Shots for Ryan Kesler, who went end-to-end on multiple occasions and looked dangerous all night as Colorado defensemen struggled to try and contain his speed.
3 – Minor penalties for Vancouver throughout the entire game, giving the Canucks their second-lowest penalty minute total of the season.
Despite the fact they scored just two goals, it was nice to see all four Vancouver lines generate a number of good scoring chances.
Alex Burrows, Trevor Linden, and Byron Ritchie provided a solid fourth line attack for the second consecutive night.
The defense held Colorado to 25 shots, many of which Luongo handled with ease.
This patchwork unit has done a good job of keeping things simple in their own zone and has received plenty of support from back-checking Canuck forwards.
The powerplay had just two chances and failed to score.
The PK gave up a goal early in the third period but rebounded with a great kill late in the game after Mike Weaver was sent off for hooking.