The Goods: Connect four
Jannik Hansen was popular before, now he’s king.
Hansen broke a 1-1 tie with his 14th goal of the year late in the third period to push the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, their fourth win over their Northwest Division rivals this season, Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.
Hansen blasted a one-timer past Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov with 6:29 to play in the third period to put Vancouver ahead for good as the Canucks topped the Avalanche for the 13th time in their last 15 meetings.
More importantly, they won in regulation.
“Now we get off a little earlier than normal, it was nice to only play 60 minutes tonight,” said Hansen, who scored his first goal in 13 games. “It’s obviously nice to see it go in, I haven’t had too many chances so it’s nice, obviously
late in the game too.”
David Booth opened the scoring 13 seconds into the first period by shoveling a backhander in while driving to the net with Mason Raymond, and the Canucks clung to a 1-0
lead until midway through the second period when Erik Johnson replied for the Avalanche.
Despite each team putting up 10 shots each in the third, it was a slow moving period and until Hansen scored late, players were being nominated to shoot in the ensuing
shootout by everyone, media and fans alike.
“Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Cody Hodgson…nahhh, take Burrows out and put Raymond in…or maybe Booth?” thought everyone.
Then Hansen scored and the Canucks were rock solid late thanks to some nice saves by Roberto Luongo, who finished with 29. Burrows flipped his 20th goal of the year into
an empty Avalanche net with four seconds remaining to ice Vancouver’s 17th win on home ice.
The Canucks have 19 of a possible 22 points in their last 11 games dating back to their last regulation loss, a 4-2 defeat at the hand of the Anaheim Ducks on January 15th.
Since then Vancouver is 8-0-3 with all but two of those outings decided by a single goal, seven in favour of the Canucks.
Winning close games, now more than ever, seems to be Vancouver’s calling card.
“I think we’ve been through a lot as a team the last couple of years, we have been in all types of situations and we know that come playoff time these are going to be the types
of games we’re going to be involved in and we’re going to have to find ways to win and we’ve been doing that lately,” said Luongo.
Booth’s 11th goal was scored so early it’s easy to forget, but excluding shootouts he scored the previous three Canucks goals dating back to their game last Saturday in Calgary.
This goal, similar to his from a game ago, came with him driving to the net hard. Good things happen when you put yourself in a favourable scoring position.
“I took a hit right after that, I didn’t even know it went in,” said Booth. “I saw the defence out of the corner of my eye so I just got the puck on net and took a hit and I think the
last two I’ve been on the ice not knowing they went in. It’s good to see them go in.”
Booth is now on a four-game point streak (3-1-4) and has 22 points (11-11-22) in 31 games played since being traded to the Canucks; he’s got four goals and five assists for nine points in 11 outings against Vancouver’s next opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
LUONGO & HIGGINS: READY TO GO
Through 40 minutes, this game had the makings of an overtime or shootout battle, so Roberto Luongo started preparing.
“After the second I was already getting mentally ready for the shootout, so I was thinking about their shooters and the whole thing,” joked Luongo with reporters post-game. “It was nice to get one there in regulation.”
The Canucks goaltender stopped 29 shots, including 10 in the final frame, many late in the game, to record his fourth win in five outings; he’s won six of nine starts and hasn’t lost in regulation since January 15th.
While Luongo shut the door, Chris Higgins was pleased the door was open for his return. The Canucks forward returned to the line-up after missing six games due to a reaction he had to medication taken to battle a staph infection.
Higgins had an assist and was a plus-1 in 12:16 of ice time, he had two shots, a hit, a blocked shot and a takeaway.
“As the game went on I felt better and better, it’s a step by step process and I thought that was a good first step and I’m glad we won and we won in regulation,” he said. “I felt good and I’m looking forward to building on tonight’s performance.”
EARLY AND OFTEN
The Canucks are first in the NHL in first period goals scored with 62 and they have sure capitalized when scoring the game’s opening goal.
Following David Booth’s first period marker Wednesday in a 3-1 win, the Canucks are 31-6-1 when scoring first; not surprisingly they are tops in the league in that category.
“When we score right off the bat, that definitely helps the momentum, gets the crowd in the game a little bit and we were able to build off that,” said Jannik Hansen. “There was a good pace out there, not too many penalties to break it up.”
Defensively the Canucks are dominant in the opening 20 minutes sitting fourth in the NHL with just 35 goals against, none in the first period to the Avalanche.
Vancouver has not allowed more than one first period goal in a game since December 1, 2011 when Nashville snuck a pair past the Canucks.
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then I rode the elevator with Pat Quinn post-game before running into Kirk McLean. Eerie.
it, I could see her smile from the press box. It was bigger after Luongo gave her his stick post-game.
Add that to the list of things you didn’t think you needed to know that you now know.