The Goods: Canucks edged out

Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:00 AM / Features
By Derek Jory
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The Goods: Canucks edged out
DETROIT RED WINGS
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Scoring summary
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DET
VAN
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1
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0
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2
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VANCOUVER CANUCKS
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Slow start, mediocre second period, blazing finale.

Sound familiar?

The Vancouver Canucks didn’t stray far from their usual script of late, but luckily their two-goal third period was enough to steal a point off the Detroit Red Wings in a 4-3 shootout loss Thursday night at Rogers Arena.

Allow Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault to be frank about his team’s effort, one that had Vancouver outshot 15-8 in the first and 15-3 in the middle frame before coming alive late.

“We got taken to school, that was obvious to everybody whether they were here watching the game or at home watching the game,” said Vigneault.

“They were playing the right way and we weren’t and that’s why they totally dominated us.”

The domination began with a Dan Cleary goal 5:27 into the first period and although Ryan Kesler evened the score before intermission off a grimy individual effort by David
Booth, the Canucks were clearly the inferior team.

That was reinforced early and often in the second. It took Vancouver until almost the 12-minute mark to get a shot on net and the Canucks totaled just three. The good news is
the Canucks surrendered only a single goal against as Roberto Luongo stopped 28 of 30 shots through 40 minutes to keep Vancouver in the game.

Words were shared in the Canucks dressing room between periods and lines were juggled in the third. The result was two Vancouver goals to one for Detroit and at least a point
as the Canucks forced overtime and eventually a shootout.

Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler scored on Luongo in the one-on-one battle, while Alex Edler and Mason Raymond were stopped by Jimmy Howard.

Despite a few negatives, the Canucks are clinging to the positives from what many described as a character comeback.

“Obviously those first two periods aren’t the way we want to play, but I thought we battled back hard in the third and it was a lot of character by us, we didn’t let anything affect
us and we kept battling and we got a point out of it,” said Kesler, who is up to 15 goals this season, but was unable to offer any thoughts on his team’s poor start.

“No, no thoughts at all. It was just one of those things where we really couldn’t generate much.”

This was the second consecutive outing in which the Canucks were outplayed; yet they managed to swipe three of a possible four points from the Chicago Blackhawks and Red Wings even without a full 60-minute effort.

That effort will return sooner rather than later, according to Luongo.

“You’re going to go through peaks and valleys throughout the season, I think that’s normal, but you don’t want this to go on forever,” said Luongo. “Obviously we know that
we’re a much better team than that and good teams find ways to perform, especially in big games like that and even though we didn’t have our best game tonight, we found a
way to get a point.”

The Canucks seem to have gotten the point as they head to Colorado to play the Avalanche in a matinee Saturday.

LINE JUGGLING

Chris Higgins was a surprise absentee from the line-up Thursday with an undisclosed illness; he was replaced by Mason Raymond on the second line.

Maxim Lapierre and Manny Malhotra rotated into Raymond’s spot on the third trio, while Andew Alberts dressed as forward skating on the fourth line.

That was only the start of the craziness.

Throughout the third period coach Alain Vigneault shuffled all four Canucks lines, so much so it was difficult to keep track of who was who in the canoe. At one point Henrik Sedin was with Raymond and Hodgson, Burrows, Lapierre and Hansen were together and Booth, Kesler and Daniel Sedin made up a threesome.

It was crazy times.

And it worked.

The desperation shifting from Vigneault resulted in two goals from the Canucks.

“That’s totally understandable,” Henrik Sedin said of the movement. “We haven’t produced the way we wanted to. It’s happened before and I’m sure it’s going to happen again.

“He was trying to generate some offence and I think it worked for the most part,” added Kesler.

Vigneault wouldn’t comment on whether or not there was a message for the Canucks to take from the moves, but rest assured there was.

MR. JANUARY

Cody Hodgson’s January couldn’t have been better.

The Canucks centre led all rookies in scoring to open 2012 with 10 points (6-4-10) in 11 games to be named the NHL Rookie of the Month.

He scored the game-winner in Vancouver’s two biggest games against Boston and Chicago and also made an appearance at the NHL All-Star Game for the first time in his career.

Thanks a lot, February. You just had to show up to the party uninvited.

“Hopefully I’ll have an even better month,” laughed Hodgson. “I’m playing with great guys like Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond right now and things are clicking for us offensively and we need to continue that in February.”

Hodgson edged Philadelphia Flyers forwards Sean Couturier (5-4-9 in 13 games) and Matt Read (3-6-9 in 13 games), Ottawa Senators forward Colin Greening (4-5-9 in 14 games) Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw (5-2--7 in 12 games) and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (2-5-7 in 12 games) for the Rookie of the Month award.

The 21-year-old ranks fourth in the rookie scoring race with 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 51 games and is second among rookies in power-play goals (five).

The Toronto native is the highest-scoring Canucks rookie since 2000-01, when Daniel and Henrik Sedin compiled 34 and 29 points, respectively.

RULES OF THE PRESS BOX
If a sneeze is inevitably on its way, be sure to ditch your gum. Quickly. Otherwise, it's a projectile from level 500. Look out below!
Tweet of the night - "The @VanCanucks. Have a number that you can text if there is a problem in your section.
Does lame play and crappy reffing count?" - @EchoToolGuy, less than impressed in the second period.
Facing former foes - The Canucks are currently in a stretch of four straight games facing former teammates.
First Hordichuk, then Morrison, Bertuzzi on this night and O’Brien to come Saturday.
Scouts in the house - The trade deadline will be here before long and Thursday's press box was full of suits looking to make
a splash, including Toronto’s Dave Nonis, George McPhee from Washington and San Jose’s Doug Wilson.
Power outage - Vancouver has gone a season-high four straight games without a power play goal. The
Canucks were 0-for-1 against Detroit and have had only six power plays in the other three games.