The wrap-up: Canucks 1 Kings 0
The key stats, plays and quotes from Thursday's win over the Kings
In honour of the final meeting with the Los Angeles Kings of the season, tonight’s version of The Wrap Up goes Hollywood!
THE BIG STORY
Coming off a game in which the Canucks surrendered a season-high 47 shots to the Flames, tightening up on the defensive end was one of the main focuses heading into tonight’s game and the Canucks did just that.
Not only did they manage to cut their shots against in more than half, but netminder Roberto Luongo estimated he faces about only 10 or so quality chances against. They also did a much better job shutting down the Kings’ top trio of Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov and Justin Williams compared to their work against Calgary’s top line. The Kings’ number one line had nine shots on goal combined, while on Tuesday, Calgary’s big three combined for 17 shots.
“Playing the way we want to play, we want to be at 10-12 chances a night (against),” said Luongo. “If we do that on a consistent basis, we’re going to have a good chance of winning.”
Not long after the Canucks took a 1-0 lead, the Kings began to take over the game with a series of shifts in the Vancouver zone and just failing to score on several good opportunities. It was enough to prompt Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault to call a timeout. That seemed to quash the Kings’ momentum as, not long after, the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows had one of their better shifts of the game spending some extended time in the Los Angeles end of the ice.
“I think it was mostly a timeout to make sure that the guys on the ice weren’t too tired because they were buzzing maybe for a minute - a little more than a minute – and it’s tough to get a breather,” said Burrows. “You know there’s an icing and you’ve got to go back to the faceoff and the other team has a chance to change their lines so they have fresh players on the ice. I think it was more to make sure the guys were rested and we’re going to be all right after the faceoff.”
The runner up: With less than five minutes to go, Kings’ forward Brian Boyle gets called on a goaltender interference penalty that was questionable at best. The Canucks essentially get a free two minutes to run down the clock.
After playing most of the previous three games without Pavol Demitra, Ryan Kesler and Mats Sundin were reunited with the Slovak sniper on a regular unit tonight and the move appeared to pay dividends. The trio was arguably Vancouver’s best line on the evening combining for numerous scoring opportunities and ten shots on goal (seven of which belonged to Sundin) as well as the only goal in the game.
“I thought we had a lot of chances tonight, both on the power play and five-on-five,” said Sundin of his trio. “Obviously I think if we’re going to play together, we need to be better defensively and I thought we did a better job of that so hopefully we can continue that.”
Roberto Luongo’s shutout marked a new career-high for the All-Star netminder with eight. It also broke the previous club record of seven shutouts by a single netminder (Dan Cloutier) while the goose egg was the ninth overall for the Canucks this season which also set a new franchise benchmark. The man of the hour, however, wasn’t really paying all too much attention to his new mark.
“Records are records, I don’t really care for them that much,” said the Canucks’ captain. “The only one I want is the Cup. Whatever else comes along the way is a small bonus, but nothing to be too excited about.”
BEST COMEDIC MOMENT
Just before Roberto Luongo’s customary post-gae media scrum, the Canucks’ captain turns to TSN reporter Farhan Lalji and says, “Hey Farhan, I really want to talk to about my stick handling tonight.”
Hey Roberto, your stick handling was just fine.
The win for the Canucks tonight moves them two points up on idle Calgary but the Flames hold a game in hand, which they’ll use up tomorrow night when they face the Edmonton Oilers. Whether Saturday afternoon’s game in Colorado will be an opportunity to clinch the Northwest Division for the Canucks will depend on the Flames’ result tomorrow night and you can bet plenty of the players will be keeping an eye on the game – that is, if they can.
“I think guys in Colorado might not be able to watch it on TV,” said Burrows. “Hopefully the Flames are going to lose but who knows. We can only focus on what we’re doing. We took care of business tonight and now we’ve got to take care of business on Saturday and hope for the best.”