The Goods: Edged in shootout
For the second consecutive season the Vancouver Canucks have dropped their season and home opener in a shootout, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 Thursday night at Rogers Arena.
Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins in the shootout, both using patience to outwait Roberto Luongo before roofing the puck top shelf on the backhand, while Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Burrows were thwarted by the pad and glove of Marc-Andre Fleury in the one-on-one battle.
The Canucks were slow out of the gate allowing a pair of 2-on-1 chances minutes in, but it was a fluke goal that had the Penguins take a 1-0 lead midway through the first period; James Neal banked a shot off Luongo from a bad angle and in.
Matt Cooke put the Penguins up 2-0 and eventually 3-1 before Vancouver switched it into high gear and hit the comeback trail.
After overtime solved nothing it was player versus goalie and the Penguins got the best of Luongo, who shouldered the blame for both shootout goals and Pittsburgh’s first two goals of the game.
“I’ve got to be a little bit more patient there,” said Luongo, referencing the shootout goals by Letang and Malkin. “I was trying to wait them out and they went to their backhand both times and they were able to get it over my pad. I’ve got to stop at least one of those.”
Prior to the shootout, Luongo stopped 17 consecutive shots to close out the game. He finished with 25 saves overall.
BALLARD LOOKING LIKE BURE
The question: What was Keith Ballard doing up with the Sedins?
The answer: Who cares.
Late in the second period Ballard turned on the rockets and jumped up to join the Sedins for a rush down the ice. Daniel fed Henrik, who feathered a backhand pass to a streaking Ballard flying down the left wing. Without hesitation the Canucks defenceman snapped the puck past Fleury for what was easily the prettiest of his 36 NHL goals to date.
Coach Alain Vigneault said post-game he encourages his defencemen to jump up in the rush when they see an opening, Ballard took that to heart and hit the whole like I wish my fantasy football running backs would (yes, I'm talking to you Chris Johnson...).
“I moved the puck up and just kind of kept going and when I got to their blueline, I was open and Hank made a good pass,” said Ballard, who finished a plus-1 with three shots and a blocked shot. “It’s nice to get one early in the pre-season.”
The score was Ballard’s third with the Canucks, all of which have been scored at Rogers Arena.
This was the first time Vancouver had ever hosted Pittsburgh to open the season, but the second time the two have began the year against one another.
The Canucks faced the Penguins in the Steel City way back on October 6, 1976, when Vancouver was handed a 9-5 loss, despite a four-goal performance from Rick Blight.
The Canucks drop their season opener for the third straight year and fall to 15-10-4 all-time beginning the year at home. Overall Vancouver has now played six season openers in front of their fans on October 6, the last instance was in 1993-94 when the Canucks routed the L.A. Kings 5-2.
For what it’s worth, Pittsburgh has proven to be a formidable foe to host to open year as the Penguins have now won four straight, although this is the first time they’ve done it without a goal from forward Tyler Kennedy.
God I missed hockey!" - @coreymenzies, pre-game.
Locksley’s The Whip as Vancouver’s goal song.
The superstar’s streak began against Columbus on March 21, 2004.