Breaking the Trend
| It was a familiar situation. The Canucks. Hockey Night in Canada. Saturday night. A 1-1 tie. And the game was heading into the dreaded shootout.
Last week against Edmonton and two weeks ago against Pittsburgh, the Canucks went into the tiebreaking round only to come out empty handed.
So when the Canucks and Coyotes were tied a 1-1 going into the shootout on the CBC broadcast, it looked like the eerie pattern might continue – complete with a loss.
But it turns out the third time was a charm.
“I think it’s kind of like last Saturday in Edmonton,” said Roberto Luongo, who registered his 10th career shootout victory, and first this year.
In both the Edmonton and Phoenix games, the Canucks broke a scoreless tie in the third only to have the opponent get the equalizer minutes later.
Both games went into a shootout, but the difference was Vancouver came out on top against the Coyotes.
After having an impressive shootout record last season, the Canucks found themselves with an 0-4 record in the breakaway contest this year, where they’ve been beat once by the Penguins and three times by the Oilers.
And the Coyotes were trying their best to hand the Canucks a fifth shootout loss in a row Saturday night. But Vancouver was able to prevail, just like old times.
“I think we did a pretty good job last year,” said Luongo of their shootout performance. “We won lots of games like that, and it took us a long time to get our first one, but it feels good and hopefully we’ll get some confidence out of [the win tonight].”
The shootout was an exciting finish to an exciting game. Ryan Kesler was the first to shoot, and he set down an impressive deke that looked like he had Ilya Bryzgalov beat, but the goalie was able to stretch out his right pad. Peter Mueller, who was 1-for-1 in shootouts, was first up for the Coyotes, but came in slowly and Roberto Luongo made an easy save.
Danny Sedin was next up, but didn’t get much on his shot, leaving the Canucks 0-for-2 in the shootout.
When Radim Vrbata deked around Luongo and put it over his blocker, it looked like the Canucks were going down in the shootout for the third Saturday in a row.
Trevor Linden needed to score if the Canucks had any hope to win. And he did, picking the top corner with a seeing-eye puck that a military sniper from a Tom Clancy novel couldn’t have shot with more precision.
Some say he’s on his final season, but at the very least the Canucks should keep this guy around just for the shootout. After his goal Saturday, he’s converted five of his seven attempts.
Then it was up to Louie to keep the Canucks in it, and really, who else could you hope the game was entrusted to?
He waited out Shane Doan to keep the shootout tied at one goal apiece. In sudden death, Taylor Pyatt slid it through Bryzgalov’s five-hole. It was Pyatt’s first shootout goal of his career.
It was again up to Luongo, who used the intimidation factor to make Joel Perrault miss high, as the Canucks came from behind in the shootout to win the game.
Winning in the shootout is one of the few things the Canucks team hadn’t accomplished this year. It seemed to be the one area where they lacked confidence. And after losing four shootouts in the last month and a half, this one was needed to get the monkey off their backs.
1st – shootout win of the season for the Canucks, who are now 1-4 this year
1st – career shootout goal for Taylor Pyatt
5 – game point streak for Henrik Sedin after one assist against the Coyotes
10 – career shootout wins for Roberto Luongo, who also has 10 losses
799 – career points for Markus Naslund after one assist against the Coyotes
Despite the low score, the offense had a pretty exciting night. The Coyotes’ offensive forecheck made for a lot of end-to-end chances, but Bryzgalov was able to keep the Canucks to a single goal. Vancouver put 35 shots at the Phoenix goaltender.
Not many NHL teams have an offensive forecheck as intense as the Coyotes do. At times, it looked like the Canucks D was surprised by the pressure and made some uncharacteristic giveaways when they were retrieving the puck. But when defending the attack, they were instrumental in collapsing to the crease and supporting Luongo when he made the big saves.
No special teams goals were given up in the game. Vancouver was 0-for-4 with the extra man, and Phoenix was 0-for-3. The Canucks had some potent power plays, but like much of the night, Bryzgalov was able to turn away their good scoring chances. In the third period and overtime, neither team was assessed a penalty as they played uninterrupted 5-on-5 hockey.