The Goods: Vantastic!
It feels like the Vancouver Canucks snapped a horrid losing streak, but the hottest team in the NHL just keeps rolling.
The Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center for their first regulation win since January 21st. Vancouver didn’t stop winning in between, four victories came, one via overtime and three by way of shootouts with the Canucks still unable to piece together a full game.
Thirteen seconds into the first period the Wild took a 1-0 lead and it looked like the Canucks would again be battling from behind all night.
Daniel Sedin and Maxim Lapierre answered for the visitors in the first, Henrik Sedin added his 12th of the season in the second and Manny Malhotra and Ryan Kesler rounded out a complete game for the Canucks at both ends of the
ice; 12 Vancouver forwards had at least a point, while the Canucks gave up only 24 shots, 22 thwarted by Cory Schneider.
The Canucks are now 8-1-2 in their last 11 games; they lead the Wild by 15 points for top spot in the Northwest Division. That’s some turnaround by both teams as Minnesota
was on top of Vancouver and the division by six points on December 11th, 2011.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Canucks just keep winning and they’re especially happy with a three-goal win to break a streak of seven straight outings decided by a single goal.
“After the Boston game we had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs, but I thought tonight was a step in the right direction,” said Henrik Sedin. “It was our best game by far.”
And it was a gutsy effort from Vancouver’s iron man who demonstrated unparalleled iron will.
After taking a shot off the right ankle Tuesday night in Nashville, Henrik Sedin was a question mark to play in Minnesota. The Canucks captain fought through the pain to keep
his streak of consecutive games played intact, it now stands at 553 and counting.
Following the morning skate, Henrik knew he’d be able to tough it out.
“I think after the morning skate I felt okay out there, usually when you get into a game the adrenaline hits you and you start to feel better, so warm-up wasn’t great out there, but once the game started I felt a lot better.”
Henrik is six games behind Jay Bouwmeester for the NHL’s longest active streak, but that didn’t weigh into Hank’s decision to play – not even one iota.
“Not at all, if you’re ready to play, you play. If I would have felt great but knew I couldn’t give 100 per cent or close to it, I wouldn’t have played.”
In 16:07 of ice time Henrik scored what counted as the game-winning goal, had two shots, two takeaways and was 6-for-15 in the circle.
Seeing Henrik on the ice gave the Canucks a spark in Minnesota, said Alex Edler.
“All Swedes are tough, right?” smiled Edler, when asked about Henrik playing. “Hank is a warrior, he’s played with pain before and it was big of him.”
Vancouver has collected all six points up for grabs during its current four-game road trip that ends Saturday in Calgary.
Byron Bitz continues making a name for himself and if he keeps up this pace, fans will be sick of hearing about him before long.
The 27-year-old Saskatoon product, playing in his third consecutive game since being recalled to replace Chris Higgins, was again a factor collecting his third point of the year, an assist on Henrik Sedin’s game-winning goal.
If Bitz isn’t careful, he could spend the rest of the season between hockey’s most dynamic forwards.
“He’s been extremely good for us,” said Henrik of Bitz. “We played with Burr for so long and I think as a line, both me and Danny and Burr, I think if you play a lot of hockey together maybe once and while you get a little…not lazy…but you get used to playing with each other and you maybe don’t have the drive or feel that chemistry all the time.
“It’s good to get some change and Byron has played great for us.”
Bitz has three points (1-2-3) in as many games and if he continues his stellar, reliable play, the Canucks will have a pleasant problem on their hands with a lot of skilled players to go around up front.
The forward’s play has even caught the attention of Vancouver’s blueliners.
“He’s been good,” said Edler. “He’s big and strong, it’s not easy to bump him off the puck so he’s good for us and he’s just going to get better.”
Night and day, that’s how Cory Schneider described this outing, a solid 5-2 Canucks win, compareed to the last time Vancouver was in Minnesota and was waxed 5-1.
The Canucks had surrendered 40 shots or more in three straight games, but that came to an end against the Wild; Vancouver buckled down defensively holding Minnesota to just 24 attempts, including five in the first period.
So what if the first shot Schneider faced beat him? He rebounded by controlling rebounds to win his fifth consecutive game and 12th start of the year.
“They’ve got a lot of skilled players and they were able to make some plays tonight, I thought they passed up pretty good shots trying to make that extra play, but we did a pretty good job with sticks and recovering and blocking shots,” said Schneider.
“Hats off to my teammates for a great defensive effort. That’s the way we’d like to play and keep grinding out low scoring, low shooting games.”
The Canucks had blanked the Wild for 122:08 spanning three games, two of which were shutouts by Roberto Luongo, but it’s been a different story for him at the Xcel Energy Center.
Luongo has lost three straight starts and been pulled in each outing in Minnesota; since being pulled in the third period of a 6-2 loss on October 19, 2010, Schneider has been between the pipes winning two of four starts.
responding to LAPPY MAKES ME HAPPY, @CanucksGame's 19,000th tweet, an embarassing one.
paralyzed teen Jack Jablonski post-practice Wednesday. Read the full story here.
Am I missing something." - @jennylynn__. What is with that?
- Glen Andresen, managing editor of Wild.com, responding to a "how do you stop the Sedins" question.