Naslund Makes Mark in 1,000th
| Vancouverites are always rooting for the Canuck captain, but against the Red Wings, the cheering for Markus Naslund was extra loud.
The talented winger played in his 1,000th career NHL game Thursday night, joining Trevor Linden as one of only two active members of this year's Canuck team to appear in that many contests. Naslund is the 216th player and only seventh Swede to reach the mark.
It would have gone down as a milestone for the captain no matter how he played, but it just so happened that he scored Vancouver's second goal. In the end, that goal turned out to earn his team a valuable point against the league-leading Detroit Red Wings and keep them in the dogfight for top spot in the Northwest.
When the Canucks left the first period down 1-0 after being outshot 16-5, a comeback looked unlikely. While Vancouver has been exceptional at clinging to a lead this season, coming from behind hasn't been their specialty. When trailing after the first period, their record entering Thursday's game was a lackluster 2-11-2.
Their difficulty in catching up on Thursday was compounded by the fact that they were playing the Red Wings, who win at a rate of about 90% when they hold the lead after the first. So when Detroit went up by two at the beginning of the second, it looked like the game was a write-off.
But Henrik Sedin pulled the Canucks within one late in the second, and then it was Naslund's time to shine.
A few minutes after scoring his goal, Hank swooped in over the Detroit blue line and sent a behind-the-back spin-o-rama pass to Naslund, who was streaking down the right wing. Naslund took the pass off his skate, then did a spin-o-rama of his own to put the puck to the crease area, completing a play that would have made a laundry machine dizzy.
Then Naslund got some puck luck - something he hasn't had much of this year - as his pass went off Detroit defender Brian Rafalski's skate and past Dominik Hasek. That goal, Naslund's 16th of the season and 362nd of his career, tied the game at 2-2. The tie wouldn't be broken until Henrik Zetterberg registered the shootout winner, meaning the Canucks got an all-important point out of the deal that tied them for the Northwest Division lead.
The goal improved Naslund's point total to 805 (362 goals and 443 assists) over his 1,000 game career.
The Canuck captain, who received first star honours, was a big part of the Canucks victory. For most of the game, he played on a line with Byron Ritchie and Mason Raymond, and they generated some healthy chances around the Red Wing net. Naslund also registered a team-leading four shots on the night (tied with Alex Burrows) in 16:12 of playing time.
Before tonight, Detroit had only allowed opponents to walk away with just 10 points from the Joe Louis Arena with an 18-4-2 home record. After making that total 11, it's easy to see why Markus Naslund has spent eight seasons wearing the 'C' here in Vancouver.
1,000 - NHL games played for Markus Naslund
72 - Kesler's winning percentage in the faceoff circle (13 for 18)
47 - saves for Roberto Luongo on 49 shots
5 - Red Wings who had five or more shots on goal
3 - times in three games that the Red Wings have beat the Canucks by a score of 3-2 this season
The Canucks' offense was decent in the first half of the game, but they really cranked it up over the last 35 minutes.
Despite being outshot by 21 over the course of the game, Vancouver had just as many scoring chances as the Red Wings, and big offensive contributions from every line.
Allowing 49 shots looks bad on paper, but the Wings were shooting from everywhere.
Vancouver did well to keep the potent Wings close to the boards, letting Luongo handle the rest.
And any game where Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are kept off the scoreboard should be considered a success.
Both teams were perfect on the penalty kill. Vancouver killed off three Detroit power plays, including a 4-on-3 in overtime.
The Canucks were quite disciplined in giving up just three power plays against a team that lures players into penalties with their speed and skill.