The Goods: Edged by B's
A French Canadian hockey version of Karpov vs. Kasparov played out Saturday night as head coaches Alain Vigneault and Claude Julian’s teams played a tight, defensive game that was broken open in the dwindling moments of the third period.
In the end it was hometown boy Milan Lucic, who dashed the Canucks hopes of ending their win one, lose one streak that has now reached 10 games.
The first period began tentatively, the teams like two boxers, feeling each other out in the early rounds of a fight. It ended scoreless, with the shots 8-7 for the Canucks.
Things opened up in the second period when Raffi Torres, and Manny Malhotra went hard to the net, greedy for a Tim Thomas rebound. Torres’ name didn’t show up on the score sheet initially (he was later credited with an assist), but his screen of the Boston goalie allowed Malhotra to pot the go ahead goal. It was the second in as many games for Malhotra.
What a difference a week makes for the third line; they did everything right Saturday night, hitting, going hard to the net and chipping in offensively.
The Bruins came back to tie it on a goal by Nathan Horton at the 9:56 mark of the second period. Former Vancouver Giant, Milan Lucic set up the goal with a pass from behind the net. It wouldn’t be the last time the Canucks heard from Lucic on the night.
The stage was set: the two best third period teams in the NHL, tied one apiece with 20 minutes to play. The Vancouver Canucks, first in the NHL with 79 third period goals and only 42 against, Boston second with 73 for and 44 against.
The period began with the Canucks controlling play, holding the Bruins to one shot in the first 10 minutes. The Bruins couldn't get anything going offensively, with the Canucks holding a 10-2 edge in shots at one stage of the third.
In the end, the Canucks had their chances, but couldn’t beat Boston goalie Tim Thomas.
The Bruins eventually scored the go ahead marker at 15:22 of the third period, on a tap in by Milan Lucic .
They would add an empty netter to make the final 3-1.
“It was a tough game, a hard fought game, both teams competed real hard, there was some physicality from both teams,” said Coach Vigneault. “It was a 1-1 game going into the third; we had some good chances, their goalie made some big saves.”
The Canucks didn’t get the lucky bounce they needed.
“They made one more play than we did, and they won the game," said Vigneault.
The goaltending battle between probable Vezina finalists Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas lived up to the hype. With Luongo stopping 22 of 24 shots and Thomas 27 of 28, there wasn’t much to choose from between either goalie.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game, these guys are one of the best teams in the league,” said Luongo. “We know they don’t give up much so we were involved in a tight playoff type battle and it was unfortunate they got a goal late in the game there”.
The Canucks can look forward to more defensive hockey as they head down the stretch and into the playoffs.
“Obviously they are a higher end team, but most of the games we are involved in are going to be close, tight checking affairs,” said Luongo.
“You don’t want to at the win loss record, but we’ve been playing alright, we just need to get a little bit more consistent as a team and we’ll be back on the winning track here pretty soon”.
With the loss the Canucks drop to 33-2-6 when their opponents score first, still the best mark in the NHL.
The Canucks levied 32 hits against the big bad Bruins, many of the bone rattling variety.
Raffi Torres led the team with seven, including a couple that will make sportscenter tonight.
If Andrew Ference wasn’t aware Victor Oreskovich is back in the NHL, he is now: Oresekovich levelled Ference behind the Boston net during the second period (see photo). He finished with three hits on the night in 5:58 of ice time.
While, Keith Ballard continued his career long hip checking clinic, with a beauty on Bruins forward David Krecji in the first period.