The Goods: Alone at the top
Not even the San Jose Sharks had enough bite to take down the Vancouver Canucks.
Alex Burrows’ eighth goal of the season, scored midway through the third period, broke a 3-3 tie and counted as the game-winner in a 4-3 Canucks win over the Sharks Monday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
Daniel Sedin, Alex Edler and Jannik Hansen scored the other goals for the Canucks, winners of six straight games and 15 of their last 18. Ryan Clowe, Patrick Marleau and Jamal Mayers replied for the Sharks, who lost for the first time in three contests.
Cory Schneider stopped 32 shots for his seventh win in 11 starts; he remains without a regulation loss this season at 7-0-2 and his play in his second start in three games was a major reason Vancouver was able to sweep its three game road trip.
“It was a real tough road trip, a lot of good teams, a lot of travel in a short amount of time and I thought this was probably our best game of the entire trip,” said Schneider following Vancouver’s first win in San Jose since 2007. “To come out with a win in our third game in four nights in a real tough building is big and I thought we played real well.”
The Canucks once again opened the scoring with Daniel Sedin converting a nice pass from Henrik Sedin following a Joe Thornton to Burrows turnover at the San Jose blueline to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead. It was the eighth time this season Daniel has scored the game’s first goal for the Canucks and 13th occasion he put the opening goal on the board between both teams.
The Sharks swarmed the Canucks in the second scoring three goals on 15 shots, but every time San Jose looked to have Vancouver pinned, the Canucks replied. Goals from Edler and Hansen gave Vancouver life and a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes.
That’s exactly the game plan Vancouver had in mind, according to Henrik.
“That’s where we wanted to be, tied on the road going into third, that’s always good,” he said. “Then the pressure is on them, they need to win games now and we knew that and we stayed tied, we played our game and we got a big goal from Burr.”
Burrows golden goal had the forward tip a Christian Ehrhoff point shot on goal, only to have it stopped by Antti Niemi. Sticking with the play, Burrows found the rebound and made no mistake putting it home.
The goal was reviewed to ensure Burrows didn’t use a high-stick to initially tip the puck, but the score stood, much to the relief of Burrows.
“We talked a little bit on the bench with Roberto and Danny and they didn’t think they were going to overturn it, but you never know,” laughed Burrows. “With our luck lately, like with the Tamby goal the other nigh; but we wanted this one and it was our good luck they called it a goal.”
Vancouver can seemingly do no wrong these days winning six straight games for the second time this season to move into soul possession of first place in the NHL. The Canucks have also moved 10 points clear of the Colorado Avalanche giving them the largest division lead in the league.
On this game being the best showing for the Canucks on the road trip:
“It definitely was. I thought in all areas of the game tonight we played our best game in the three. We played against a real strong opponent in all areas and it was a tough grind out there for both teams and it was a real good hockey game. We were able to pull it off in the third, I thought our guys came out real hard and played well and we were able to get it done.”
On Vancouver improving its play as the game went on:
“Our guys had a lot of energy, we were rolling four lines and it was a matter of managing the puck well against that team. We got a little bit off it in the second and that’s how they built a little bit of momentum there when we didn’t make the right plays through that neutral zone, but when we did make the right plays it was a hard-fought game.”
On what it means to win a game in San Jose:
“It had been quite a while. They’re such a good team in all areas of the game, well structured and their guys compete hard and this is a tough environment, this is a tough place to play. We hadn’t had much success against them in the past, but we feel we’re a different team this year and it’s a different season. It was our first game in here and I thought our guys did a good job.”
The Canucks trailed 3-2 in the second period against the Sharks marking the first time since the third period of a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on December 26, 2010 they had trailed – a stretch of three games without being down; Vancouver entered Monday with goal differential of plus-35, two better than the Pittsburgh Penguins for tops in the NHL; Colorado forward Andrew Desjardins, called up from Worcester, became only the second player in NHL history to wear #69.