The Goods: 'Gin it to win it
Blame the late puck drop, blame the thin air, blame the Calgary Flames.
The Vancouver Canucks had a slow start Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche, but they found their legs late in the second period and earned a 3-2 overtime win at the Pepsi Center.
Chris Higgins was the hero scoring his second goal of the game 1:40 into overtime to complete an unlikely comeback that had the Canucks down 2-0 with five minutes left in the second period.
Eerily enough, Vancouver trailed Colorado 2-0 in the second period just over a year ago on March 16, 2011, and the Canucks rallied with four straight goals to win the game and capture the Northwest Division title.
Mason Raymond and Higgins netted goals 95 seconds apart before the second intermission paving the way for Higgins to end it in overtime and although the Canucks had clinched their fourth consecutive division crown
because of a Flames loss earlier in the day, the win made it official.
Jannik Hansen’s hard work led to the Higgins’ OT goal, his 15th of the year and third game-winner, and Higgins was quick to praise the Great Dane.
“Great play by Jannik, he deserves all the credit for that one,” said Higgins. “He outmuscled the guy in the corner and found me in the slot, it probably wasn’t the prettiest one,
but I got it on net and it went in.”
This was far from a pretty start for the Canucks as they were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty a mere 36 seconds in and on the ensuing power play, the Avalanche
took a 1-0 lead on their first shot.
All that did was anger Roberto Luongo, who was more than in his zone on this night.
The Canucks netminder had 16 saves in the first to keep it a one-goal game; it would have easily been 4-0 had he faltered even the slightest. Luongo had another 10 saves in
the second and 12 in the third for 38 overall, allowing Vancouver to extend its streak to 16 games without a regulation loss against the Avalanche.
Luongo acknowledged that the more shots he faced, the stronger he felt.
“For some reason when I get 40 shots, I feel like I’m at my best,” he said. “I keep telling the guys to give me some shots from the outside and we’ll be fine.”
Overall Luongo was pleased with his team’s pushback after an early deficit.
“They’re definitely a desperate team, we knew they were going to have a push off the bat and unfortunately they scored early in the game. I think I settled down a bit after that
and made some saves and the boys really took over in the second period.
“Every game was low scoring the whole trip,” added Luongo. “We limited scoring chances even though they had a few more shots, but that didn’t necessarily translate to lots of scoring chances. We didn’t give up that many odd man rushes, which is key. We’re going to be involved in a lot of low scoring games down the stretch here and into the playoffs and we want to find ways to win those.”
The Canucks now head back to Vancouver with the Los Angeles Kings in town Monday night.
NORTHWEST DIVISION CHAMPS
David Booth was sporting an interesting new hat during Vancouver’s pre-game soccer warm-up in the bowels of the Pepsi Center.
2011-12 Division Champions it read, with the photo of the Canucks logo underneath it.
Booth wore it with pride, as will all the Canucks who have earned their fourth consecutive Northwest Division title and the ninth in franchise history, while securing a playoff spot for the 25th time ever.
Last season Vancouver locked up the division on March 16th with a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Arena.
This year the title came eight days later, in Colorado, and the final result didn’t even matter.
The Dallas Stars beat the Calgary Flames, the only Northwest team able to catch the Canucks, earlier in the day, so a playoff berth was granted before puck drop.
Sure it was anti-climactic, but there are no points awarded for style in the NHL, just wins and losses in the hopes of winning the Stanley Cup. The Canucks will again have the right to fight for it this season.
“It’s just one step closer,” said Booth, “but it’s not our ultimate goal, it’s a goal along the way, so we accomplished that and now we have to accomplish the next goal.”
Vancouver is the fourth team to clinch a playoff spot, and the first to win its division this season.
THE ROAD FREQUENTLY TRAVELED
When the Vancouver Canucks return home Sunday, they will have traveled more than 7,000 kilometres as part of this four-game road trip, the team’s final massive voyage of the year.
The schedule makers were tough on the Canucks for stretches this season, but the road to the post-season will involve a lot of home cooking with Vancouver at home for six of its final seven games.
The Canucks feel good about their play on the road, especially of late, as they prepare for the NHL’s second season when road wins are invaluable.
Regardless of how the Canucks do in Calgary against the Flames in their final road outing of the year, Vancouver has put together its second best road showing in the last seven seasons, since the inception of shootouts in 2005-06.
The Canucks boast the NHL’s best road record at 24-11-5.
“We really stick together as a team on the road, tonight was a perfect example of that,” said Booth. “As the road trip went on our team started playing better and that’s good, hopefully we can take some of that momentum home with us and close out the season to get ready for the playoffs.”
Vancouver lost one of its star players during this jaunt, and yet a 2-1-1 record came of it. The Canucks rallied around each other and were rewarded.
“It’s been tough physically, a lot of scrums and stuff, but guys are sticking up for each other and that’s really good to see and that goes a long way.”
-@ChelseaHopeClow, and many others, were big fans of the Hockey Night in Canada coverage.
when leading after two periods. That’s some kind of stat.
dropped their shovels and did the Men In Black dance to the Will Smith song. Soooooo good.
hoodies, pucks, you name it, they sell it. Truly, truly bizarre. It's like selling your ex-girlfriends things.