The Goods: So close
The Vancouver Canucks are 41 games from the playoffs, but already they’re playing playoff hockey.
In Saturday night’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Rogers Arena, the Canucks did everything right for 65 minutes before the dreaded shootout reared its ugly head and moved Detroit to within a point of Vancouver for top spot in the NHL.
The loss snapped the Canucks eight-game winning streak and six-game home winning streak, but positives were all the players were taking from their third game in four nights.
“We played well, we definitely deserved two points tonight,” said Ryan Kesler. “It’s a shootout loss, what are you going to do? They don’t have shootouts in the playoffs. We’ve got to stay positive in here and just keep playing the way we’re playing and we’ll be fine.”
After a scoreless opening period, Daniel Sedin put the Canucks on the scoreboard with a power play goal midway through the second. Vancouver led 1-0 until Detroit responded in the third as Johan Franzen scored just 40 seconds in.
From there it was Roberto Luongo against Jimmy Howard with both goaltenders coming up with some big saves late to force overtime and eventually a shootout. Jiri Hudler was the lone shooter to find the back of the net; Jeff Tambellini, Kesler and Daniel Sedin were all stopped on their attempts.
The Canucks can take solace in the fact that they outshot the Red Wings 35-33 and out chanced them early on and throughout. Howard stood his ground for 15 shots in the third period and overtime, including a laser from Henrik Sedin that he snagged with his glove. It was eerily similar to his glove save on Daniel early in the first period.
“I think we both got pretty good shots away, but he had his glove there and we weren’t able to really get it upstairs,” said Daniel, adding that he was impressed with his team’s performance overall.
“We’re still playing really well, this is maybe our best game in a long time, so we’ve got to be happy with that and take the positives and move on.”
Added Luongo: “Obviously it was two good teams going at it, not a lot of room out there and playoff type atmosphere, the type of games we’ll be involved in a lot down the stretch here and obviously getting into the playoffs. It’s a game of mistakes and no team seemed to want to make any once it was 1-1.”
AV AN ALL-STAr
Hopefully Alain Vigneault wasn’t looking forward to some down time during the all-star break.
On Saturday the NHL announced that the Canucks bench boss has earned a co-coaching position for the 58th All-Star Game Sunday, January 30th, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Vigneault was selected for having coached Vancouver to the highest points percentage in the Western Conference through January 8th. When picked, Vigneault's Canucks lead the West with a points percentage of .738, posting 59 points in 40 games (27-8-5).
Vigneault will be joined by Eastern Conference Head Coach Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers; both will make their all-star game debut, as will the game itself in Carolina.
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will coach against Vigneault and Laviolette for having won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Ryan Kesler has six assists against Detroit this season; this was the third of four matchups between Vancouver and Detroit and the first won by the visiting team; through 41 games Manny Malhotra has taken 30.5 per cent of Vancouver’s faceoffs.