| The Cooke Monster left the Anaheim Ducks feeling mighty blue Sunday night.
Matt Cooke scored the game-winner and brought the crowd to its feet with a thundering third period bodycheck on Doug Weight as his Vancouver Canucks squeaked past Anaheim 2-1 at General Motors Place.
Cooke took a pretty saucer pass from teammate Henrik Sedin early in the second period and fired a wrister from the faceoff circle that eluded Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. The marker gave Vancouver a 2-0 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“[Henrik] made a great play at the line and sucked their [defensemen] over and I had all the time in the world to go in and shoot,” said Cooke. “I just tried to shoot far side.” The goal was Cooke’s sixth of the season but just his second in his last 15 games. Of his previous five tallies, four came in losses. Needless to say, he was glad to chip in on a night his team came out on top.
“Team success is the biggest thing for me and the way that I play. But obviously I want to help out offensively as much as I can and it was nice to get on the board tonight,” said Cooke.
On the boards is where Cooke made his second biggest impact of the night. He’s lucky he didn’t go through them.
Weight, who was acquired by Anaheim from St. Louis earlier this month, had his head down as he tried to fish the puck out of his skates in the Vancouver end. Cooke took advantage, driving the Ducks centre hard into the boards, much to the delight of the 18,630 in attendance.
As big a hit as it was, Cooke said afterwards it could have been even bigger.
“He was looking for the puck and I told him I actually let up on him a little bit. He was kind of vulnerable and, I mean, obviously I wanted to hit him but I don’t want to hurt him when he didn’t know I was coming at all.”
Cooke had a team-high three hits and logged 10:37 of ice-time for a Vancouver team that hasn’t lost at home in regulation since November 1.
Daniel Sedin got the scoring started midway through the first period. With George Parros already in the box for interference, Sean O’Donnell joined him just over a minute later.
Provided with a lengthy 5-on-3, Vancouver’s four-forward setup cashed in. Markus Naslund found Henrik unmarked at the red line. As defender Francois Beauchemin came over, Henrik slid the puck past him to brother Daniel who redirected it past Hiller.
The score remained 2-0 until Ryan Getzlaf blasted a one-timer past Roberto Luongo 9:43 into the third period.
That was as close as Anaheim would come on this night.
Luongo had to be sharp to stop a Weight slapper with just over five minutes remaining, getting the right pad out to keep his team ahead.
Bobby Lou’s finest save of the night also came in the third, as he got his arm out on a Scott Neidermayer slap pass.
.967 – Save percentage for Roberto Luongo in his last 12 starts at GM Place (318-for-329).
6 – Fights in 11 games for Mike Brown. The winger won his second period bout with Francois Beauchemin, sending the Ducks blueliner to the ice with several hard rights.
26 – Minutes of ice time for Willie Mitchell, with 19:09 of that coming in the final two periods alone.
75 – Percent of the faceoffs Ryan Kesler took, he won (9-for-12).
It was a slow night for the Vancouver offense, as a tired Ducks team was content to trap it up through the first two periods. While Jaffray, Pyatt and Raymond were held pointless, they continued to provide Vancouver with some decent second-line work and registered six shots.
Roberto Luongo had an uncharacteristically easy start, as his defense gave up just 11 shots through the first two periods. The Getzlaf, Perry and Bertuzzi line was held in check for most of the night and the Ducks as a whole had to be content with shooting from the outside.
The powerplay scored when it needed to by cashing in on a 5-on-3. The PK essentially had a night off, being called to action on just two occasions.