The Goods: Double duty
Nothing brings out the beast from within Mikael Samuelsson like the Olympics.
After Samuelsson was left off Team Sweden for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, he responded with a seven game point streak picking up 10 points in his next 10 games overall.
In seven games following the finale of the Olympics, in which Sweden, the defending gold medalist, finished a disappointing fifth, Samuelsson tallied 12 points and had two of his three multi-goal games of the season.
Remembering this, it’s no surprise that Samuelsson scored two goals, including the game-winner to pace the Vancouver Canucks past the Calgary Flames 4-2 on Olympic Memories night at Rogers Arena.
The pre-game ceremony began with the 10 Olympians playing in Saturday night’s Northwest Division battle, the fourth of six meetings between the Canucks and Flames, spotlighted on the big screen, but it ended with Samuelsson, the snubbed Swede, celebrating his fifth and sixth goals and 11th and 12th points in his last six games.
Samuelsson’s season started with one goal in 12 games and he couldn’t buy a score in December through an eight game drought before not scoring in 14 games leading into 2011.
The post-goal smiles on his face were as genuine as they get with pucks finally finding the back of the net for the 34-year-old.
“Pucks are going in for me now, I had chances before and I didn’t bury them, but that’s how the season goes, it goes up and down and you just have to stay with it,” said Samuelsson, who has 15 goals and two game-winners this year.
To Samuelsson, the puck isn’t going in because of anything new he’s trying, it’s the little things his teammates are doing.
On Samuelsson’s first goal, scored 10:40 into the 2nd to even the game at 2-2 after the Canucks gave up a pair of goals 2:06 apart to open the period, Ryan Kesler outmuscled Jay Bouwmeester in front of the net preventing Miikka Kiprusoff from seeing Samuelsson’s wrist shot.
Next it was Daniel Sedin providing the screen and jumping just in the nick of time for Samuelsson’s power play shot to fool Kiprusoff with 6:40 to play in the period.
“It’s everything,” said Samuelsson on the importance of the screens. “My second goal would never go in. That’s part of it too, everybody knows it too, we need everybody on the team, it’s not just about goal scoring. Everybody is important for the team, not just the guys who put points up there.”
Alex Burrows, who had Vancouver's other two goals to extend his point streak to nine games (8-3-11), also gave kudos to the dirty work done in the trenches in front of the net.
“That’s huge, that’s how you’re going to beat good goaltenders in this league,” said Burrows. “Any time you get a chance to have some traffic and net presence, it adds to your chance of scoring goals and I thought those two goals were big goals for us.”
In a game decided by special teams, Vancouver went 2-for-3 on the power play, but more importantly, the Canucks killed off three Flames man advantages in the third period for the complete game; Vancouver has not allowed a power play goal against in its last 36 opportunities.
SALO TO THE RESCUE
The veteran Canucks defenceman, who missed all 55-games this season recovering from Achilles surgery, returned to the line-up on this night and was a welcomed addition to a depleted blueline.
To show their appreciation, the fans gave Salo a rousing ovation in the first period.
“I was a little nervous going into the game obviously, but I had a pretty good feeling from three pretty good games in Manitoba,” said Salo, who played with the Moose last week on a conditioning assignment. “Jumping on the ice and getting the cheer from the crowd was obviously encouraging and I felt pretty good out there.”
Salo finished with 16:34 of ice time on 28 shifts; he saw time on the power play and the penalty kill with one shot, a blocked shot, a giveaway and two penalty minutes.
As the game wore on, Salo, who skated with Christian Ehrhoff, felt his game improve.
“Once I started to play solid minutes, I started to feel a little better.”
Welcome back Sami.
Victor Oreskovich made his Canucks regular season debut Saturday playing alongside Tanner Glass and Raffi Torres on the fourth line; the Canucks improved to 27-0-3 when leading after 40 minutes; as part of the Olympics celebration at Rogers Arena, a bevy of athletes were in attendance, including Kristi Richards, Becky Kellar, Chris Le Bihan, Denny Morrison, Cheryl Bernard, Ashleigh McIvor and Lauren Woolstencroft.