The Goods: A big high-five
No need for a credit check, the American Express line is good.
The win, Vancouver’s sixth in its last seven games, was of the comeback variety with the Canucks trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes only to storm back over the final two periods with a pair of goals in the second and three in 5:02 to open the third.
It didn’t play out as the Canucks drew it up, but it was a win nonetheless and against a Northwest Division rival, that’s all that counts.
Vancouver has dominated recent meetings with Calgary to the tune of 10-0-2 over the last 12 games; the last time
the Canucks lost in regulation the Flames was on October 16, 2009.
You read that correctly, Vancouver hasn’t lost to Calgary in regulation in more than two years.
The play of the second line was the main reason for the Canucks win on this night.
The Flames outplayed the Canucks heavily in the early going; the visitors led in shots 13-10 and on the scoreboard 1-0 after the first.
The ice, not at its best a night after Sammi Cheng played Rogers Arena, was then tiled heavily in Vancouver’s favour. Over the final 40 minutes the Canucks outshot the Flames 26-9 and outscored them 5-0.
“As a team, we never feel like we’re out of it, no matter how many goals we’re down,” said Higgins, the game’s second star. “We know we have a lot of talent on this team and
a lot of ability to score goals. When we’re playing the right way, even if we’re down a couple of goals, we’ll find a way.”
Either Booth, Higgins or Kesler, the game’s three stars, were in on four of Vancouver’s five goals and the eight point showing was easily the line’s best of the season.
Coach Alain Vigneault couldn’t put his finger on why the trio works so well together, it just does.
“Those guys, Ryan and Chris, they’re so skilled,” said Booth. “It’s been fun playing with them and they’ve been making my game better.”
Booth’s fifth goal of the season came 40 seconds into the third period and as Vancouver’s third score of the night, it put the game out of reach for Calgary.
Booth admitted he got lucky on the shot.
“I didn’t where I was putting that one, just right at his feet,” he laughed. “Coach came in between the second and third and said keep putting pucks on the net because the
ice was maybe a little bit choppy, so the pucks were bouncing. So we put pucks to net and we scored.”
Roberto Luongo started his first game since November 13th and he was stellar making 21 saves in his team-leading eighth win of the season.
RAYMOND'S DEBUT, PART II
The road to recovery was bumpy and Mason Raymond found his first game back quite bumpy as well.
“That’s the most I’ve been bumped I guess since I’ve been cleared for contact in two or three weeks," said Raymond post-game, adding that he felt solid.
“I felt good overall, conditioning wise I felt good, handling the puck and timing will take a bit, but overall I was pleased with how I felt.”
In his highly anticipated return to the Canucks line-up, Raymond played 14:35 on 21 shifts with one shot, two missed attempts and a faceoff win. The third line forward, skating with Jannik Hansen and Cody Hodgson, also got in on the scoring with an assist on Hansen’s seventh goal of the year 1:54 into the third period.
Naturally Raymond had a few jitters, but it was back to business after his first few shifts.
“It’s nice to get that first one out of the way, I don’t know what it is but when you get those first few under your belt you feel much better. I wasn’t really concerned about the bumps, it’s nice to get them, you do feel more comfortable, but I just kept moving forward to do what I do.”
Raymond was pleased with his first game, as was coach Vigneault and you can count the sellout crowd at Rogers Arena in as well.
“It’s very nice to have a good, warm-welcome from the fans, I haven’t played in this building in a long time. That meant a lot.”
Kevin Bieksa plays the role of shutdown defenceman so convincingly it’s easy to forget he can put the puck in the net.
Bieksa reminded everyone of his nose for the net for the second time this season with a power play goal 5:13 into the second period to even the game at 1-1. He cued the comeback, but it wasn’t due to any extra effort he’s been putting into his offensive production.
Everyone gets streaky, as Bieksa said, and right now, he’s the guy. And he’s got 11 points (2-9-11) in his last 16 games, including six (1-5-6) during a career-best tying five game point streak, to support that.
“Sometimes you step on the ice and get a plus, sometimes you step on the ice and get a minus, same with points, they come and they go,” Bieksa told reporters. “I’ll ride the wave while I’m on it, but eventually I’m going to fall off, so just remember that.”
Bieksa wants us all to read between the lines: don’t get too high when he’s scoring, don’t get too low when he’s not.
“I’m playing the exact same way as I was earlier in the season, I actually felt like earlier in the season I was getting more chances and just not converting,” said Bieksa. “And now, for whatever reason, I’m more opportunistic.”
Bieksa started the season with just one assist in 10 games.
to tie this game. Secret weapon #Canucks" -@stuhunter, letting the cat out of the bag.
The Canucks are 4-0-0 on Sundays this season with only three Sunday tilts remaining.
anthem pre-game; the double threat is a former Canadian University Men’s Golf champion.
Vancouver as the Abbotsford Heat beat the Chicago Wolves 3-1.