The Goods: Comeback Canucks
Improbable. Unlikely. Fluky. Is this real life?
Take your pick.
The Vancouver Canucks clipped the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in a shootout Saturday afternoon in a game we’ll file under Better late than never.
With the Canucks down 2-1 with less than a minute to play in regulation and Roberto Luongo on the bench, Colorado’s TJ Galiardi wristed a shot down the ice looking for the insurance empty-net goal.
Kevin Bieksa, knowing it was clutch time, dove to knock down the puck to keep the Canucks alive.
Bieksa started the play, he might as well finish it.
The Canucks stormed down the ice looking for the tying goal, a fluke bounce off the stanchion and a bouncing puck ended up on the stick of Bieksa, who rifled it past Jean-Sebastien Giguere to re-define implausible.
Mason Raymond was the only player to score in the shootout and Luongo stopped all three shots faced as Vancouver opened a four-game road trip with an exciting win.
The Canucks win as a team and lose as a team, but Bieksa gets extra credit for his extra effort at both ends of the ice in a sequence similar to Patrik Stefan’s botched empty net effort that led to an Ales Hemsky goal and Edmonton Oilers win over the Dallas Stars in early 2007.
For the second time in as many exhilarating Bieksa pouncing puck goals from the point, an assist goes to the stanchion.
First things first, the Bieksa save.
“It was in the air and I didn’t want to risk using my stick and having it bounce in, so obviously I put my body in front of it,” explained Bieksa.
“Then after that, I don’t know what happened, I don’t know how the puck came to me, probably a stanchion, most likely a stanchion, but I just wanted to put it on net because
we had a pretty good screen in front.”
The puck found the back of the net to reinforce that good teams find a way to win, but this was another subpar effort from the Canucks, their third in as many games since the all-star break.
After Ryan Kesler opened the scoring for Vancouver 3:31 into the first period, Colorado tied the game later in the frame and took a 2-1 lead in the second. That’s how the game stood until Bieksa’s goal, but the Canucks were hardly themselves at either end of the ice against the Avalanche.
“We’re giving up a few chances, but we’re just not quite there in our zone right now,” said Bieksa. “We’re not sharp enough, we’re trying to place a little bit more of an effort on
that and coming out from there. We were a little bit better tonight, but obviously we can be better.”
Still, the Canucks have five of a possible six points in their last three games. They may be playing with fire, but they’ve yet to be burned.
SHOOTOUT KINGS FALL
Vancouver foiling Colorado’s attempt to tie the NHL record for consecutive shootout wins makes about as much sense as the Canucks winning this game.
It was just meant to be.
The Avalanche, 7-0 in game’s ending in shootouts this season and 10-0 dating back to last season, were a shootout win away from tying the Dallas Stars for the most in a row in NHL history at 11.
Saying Colorado is a shootout specialist is an understatement as the Avalanche were 18-1 in their last 19 shootouts and 33-10 in their previous 43 efforts.
The Canucks, on the other hand, were 3-5 in shootouts this season coming in and yet Roberto Luongo was flawless stopping three shots and Mason Raymond was precise in scoring his second shootout goal of the season.
“Finally,” laughed Bieksa. “Lui made three big saves and we got the one goal we needed. Let’s do that more often.”
Canucks fans everywhere second that notion.
BALLARD, BITZ OR BOOTH
Keith Ballard nearly got his wish.
Coach Alain Vigneault revealed Friday the Canucks defenceman had been “harassing” him to play upfront next time Vancouver was a forward short.
The Canucks looked to be just that heading into Saturday’s contest with Colorado as Chris Higgins missed his second consecutive game; could it be, could Ballard get the call at forward for the first time since his days with the Phoenix Coyotes?
Ballard was both ready and willing; unfortunately he never got his shot.
Byron Bitz, who the Canucks recalled Friday from the Chicago Wolves, made it to Denver despite horrendous traveling conditions to fill in for Higgins, and David Booth, questionable for the game with upper body soreness, was able to play.
Ballard remained on defence playing 16:08 with two hits and two blocked shots, while Bitz had a shot, takeaway, blocked shot, fight and two hits in 8:32 of action and Booth had the second assist on Kesler’s goal and two hits in 17:34 of play.
owns the market on those!" - @sportsnetmurph, taking a shot at reporter Elliott Pap during a friendly twitter battle.
The move was a salute to his grandmother, who passed away Friday.
the scoring in 10 straight road games; Mason Raymond played his 300th NHL game in Colorado.
Giants 28-21. Think you can one-up him? Take on the Canucks forward now at Fort Nucks.