#19 = #1
| For all his skill, it was Markus Naslund’s toughness that lifted him to the top of the Vancouver Canucks record book.
Naslund set up Vancouver’s first goal of the night (Video Highight) and was the game’s second star as the Canucks held off the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 Wednesday night at the United Center.
The first period assist gave Naslund 725 points as a Canuck, inching him past Trevor Linden for the all-time team lead. Naslund is already Vancouver’s all-time goal-scoring leader, having potted 332 in a Canuck uniform.
While many of those points have come courtesy his patented wrist-shot, it was hard work and perseverance that led to the record-setter.
Naslund took a feed from Daniel Sedin behind the Chicago net and worked his way toward the corner.
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, who had broken and discarded his stick seconds earlier, headed straight for the Vancouver captain and gave him a hard two-handed shove.
The push initially knocked Naslund off the puck, but just as he appeared to be losing his balance Naslund reached out with his right hand and hooked it away from the Chicago defender.
As Seabrook struggled to recover, Naslund slipped away and had the attention of four Hawks skaters before he calmly slipped a backhand saucer pass to the pinching Mattias Ohlund.
Ohlund took advantage of the open space and roofed a backhander of his own over the shoulder of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to give Vancouver the early lead.
Martin Lapointe replied for Chicago seven minutes later when he snapped a wrister from the slot. Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo had some trouble with it and the puck snuck under his arm and trickled over the line to make it a 1-1 game.
Byron Ritchie tallied for Vancouver in the final minute of the first when Taylor Pyatt’s snapper missed the net, hit Ritchie, hit Khabibulin, and, again, just trickled over the line. The goal came against the flow of play as Chicago dominated much of the opening frame but went to the dressing room down 2-1.
The Hawks scored the only goal of the second period when a Martin Havlat wrist-shot deflected off the skate of Sami Salo past a helpless Luongo.
Vancouver took the lead for good just over three minutes into the third when Pyatt and Brendan Morrison broke away for what looked like it might be a 2-on-1. But as the Hawks defenders quickly got back into position, Morrison decided to simply put his head down and fire the puck. It was the right choice, as the shot deflected off defenseman Andrei Zyuzin and beat Khabibulin clean.
But while it was certainly nice to get the two points, the reason Canucks fans will remember this game is because of #19. A common question throughout BC over the next few decades will undoubtedly be, “Where were you when Markus Naslund became the franchise’s all-time points leader?”
That’s more than anyone could have asked for on March 20th, 1996 when Naslund came to Vancouver from Pittsburgh for Alex Stojanov.
Markus registered his first point as a Canuck on April 13th of that year against Calgary. Naslund would score three times that night.
Turns out it was only a sign of things to come.
1 – Faceoff win in 11 opportunities for Byron Ritchie.
2 – Points for Brendan Morrison, who netted his second game-winning goal against Chicago in as many contests.
3 – Consecutive penalties for Henrik Sedin in the second and third periods.
83 – Goals for Mattias Ohlund in a Vancouver uniform, tying him with Jyrki Lumme for the all-time lead amongst defensemen.
1100 – Games for Trevor Linden as a Canuck.
What lack of secondary scoring? On a night when the big line failed to click, timely goals from Ohlund, Ritchie, and Morrison carried the Canucks back to the top of the Northwest Division.
The defense had a strong night, severely limiting the number of good scoring chances Chicago had. Other than a couple of big saves on Patrick Kane in the final minutes, Roberto Luongo really didn’t have to stand on his head.
The power play had its chances but failed to ripple the mesh and finished 0-for-3. The PK gave up one unlucky goal but had a big kill late in the third after Ryan Kesler was sent off. Linden was particularly strong, reading a cross-ice pass, blocking it, then batting the puck out of the zone with his glove.