The Goods: Overtime pays
All of the sudden it’s an 83 game regular season for the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday night at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville in a battle of two of the top five teams in the NHL; the win was Vancouver’s fifth in the last six games and it was the fifth straight outing and eighth time in 10 contests the Canucks have needed extra time to settle things.
Overall the Canucks have gone to overtime or beyond 15 times this year as they continue putting in overtime to get the job done.
Ryan Kesler, Byron Bitz and Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks in regulation, Colin Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and Mike Fisher replied for the Predators as the teams skated to overtime and eventually a shootout even at 3-3.
Alex Burrows and David Legwand traded goals in early rounds of the shootout before fourth, fifth and sixth attempts were needed. Alex Edler scored the game-winner in the
sixth round and Roberto Luongo stopped five of six shooters to backstop the Canucks to another unlikely victory.
Was it a complete effort? No, but it was another step in the right direction for a Canucks team struggling like a turtle on its back to string together a full 60-minute effort.
I feel like a broken record, but in the end Vancouver once again found a way to win.
“I don’t know what to say, obviously we’d like to win earlier but today Lu was great and then again in the shootout,” said Edler, who laughed that he’s out of moves after his shootout game-winner on Pekka Rinne.
“I’ve done it before, but I don’t have too many moves. I’m probably out. That’s it.”
The Canucks themselves are probably almost out of incomplete efforts that result in points, yet Edler said the team is working hard behind the scenes to right the ship.
“It’s difficult to put the finger on one thing, sometimes you’ve got to not do too much, you’ve just got to do your job really good and let the other guys do their job and just work
a little bit more together.”
Luongo didn’t earn a game star for his 37 save performance (42 save outing including the shootout) as the Canucks gave up 40 shots for the third consecutive game. The win is what matters to Luongo, who apparently doesn’t mind facing 40 or more shots as he improved his record in that situation to 13-0-6 in his last 19 pepperings.
Luongo outdueled a red-hot Rinne, who had won a franchise-record 11 straight decisions and 20 of his last 22 starts coming in. The Canucks have had Rinne’s number this
season chasing him in the first two contets before stealing another win on this night.
Special teams were perfect for the Canucks in Nashville as the power play went 1-for-1, while the penalty kill eliminated all four Predators man advantages. Overall Vancouver is 2-for-17 on the power play in its last seven games and 14-for-15 on the kill in its last four road games, all wins.
Byron Bitz played a mere 3:34 in the first period, but he needed only 23 seconds of that to record the third multi-point game of his career and score his first goal with the Canucks and first since March 20, 2010.
“I do remember that one,” laughed Bitz, “it was in Florida against Buffalo. That’s a long, long time ago.”
With how Bitz has played in his two games with the Canucks, a scoring slump like that won’t likely happen again any time soon.
Especially with who he’s getting a chance to play alongside.
Bitz was on the ice with Henrik Sedin and Mason Raymond to begin the game and Daniel and Henrik Sedin when he scored then had the first assist on Daniel’s goal, both scored within 23 seconds late in the first period.
“Keep my stick on the ice and get open,” said Bitz, revealing his game-plan when he saw his assignment as a top-six forward. “But still I couldn’t change anything, I’m not going to try to beat guys one-on-one, be smart with the puck, be smart, get deep and get some cycles going.”
Bitz finished as one of only two players with two points, he was alone with a plus-2 rating and had two shots and a hit.
It’s all in a night’s work for the man fans have dubbed BitzNasty.
EVERY GAME THEY'RE SHUFFLIN'
Coming into this game coach Alain Vigneault had juggled his lines for the third period in two straight games and on both occasions the Canucks came away with what they needed to at least salvage a point.
Vigneault took the mixing a step further and had the Canucks doing double takes in the dressing room prior to the morning skate Tuesday with lines never before seen. He said post-skate they might not stick, but when puck dropped in Nashville, Vancouver’s lines were brand spanking new.
Bitz was with Henrik and Raymond, Daniel with Kesler and Burrows, Hodgson between Booth and Hansen and Malhotra with Lapierre and Weise.
Even the power play units were new as Hodgson played with the Sedins, and Booth, Burrows and Kesler made up the second trio.
Bitz’s contributions with the Sedins made Vigneault look like a genius, but was the shuffling truly effective?
Yes, said Burrows, because of the final score.
“It was a little bit different mentality going into the game, but Bitzy was great with the twins and I’m really happy for him, two big points there on two big goals for our team and as long as we win games, that’s all that matters,” he said.
Alex Edler was pleased the defensive pairings were kept in tact, but he too is prepared for anything to help the Canucks win.
“It’s nice to play with the same guy, you know each other and you read off each other, but sometimes it’s time to mix things up a little bit like tonight on the forwards.”
That might be unrealistic but you never know" - @willesonsports. Now that's sports reporting.
@VanCanucks REWARD: Deep playoff run" - @FireflyFaery, who lost all hope in the second period.
Dan Hamhuis who played NHL game 600, 117 in Vancouver.
Alex Edler on his shootout game-winner. Apparently he's spent.