PIC OF THE GAME
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) –Quick, someone dig the cursed chicken bones out from under the centre ice dot at GM Place.
No matter what the Canucks seem to do on the ice these days, the result stays the same. After Saturday night’s melt-down, the black streak has stretched to nine – as in nine straight losses at home.
“We really thought we had this one,” said Ryan Kesler
, who scored twice, including the game-tying goal with 16 seconds left in regulation. “The way we played tonight, we gave up a couple early, but we definitely clawed back in it and showed a lot of character. It was just an unlucky bounce at the end there.”
was whistled for hooking just 52 seconds into the extra frame and Marc-Andre Bergeron put a slap-shot through Roberto Luongo
after a deflection off a Vancouver skate and the Wild beat the Canucks 4-3.
“It was a strong effort from everybody tonight, from the goaltender out, and I thought everyone picked their game up and showed that they want to win and they care about this team,” Kesler said.
“We got a big goal at the end there, but they got a lucky one in overtime off our guy’s skate in the corner,” said Luongo, who stopped 23 shots. “It’s another loss, a tough one to swallow, but we had some good habits and worked hard tonight for the most part of the game.”
The Canucks managed to put 40 shots on net, and carried play for much of the game, but it simply wasn’t enough to shrug the gorilla off their backs. Not even a shaky Wild keeper that was yanked in a night earlier in a 3-1 loss to the Oilers helped the Canucks.
Niklas Backstrom simply didn't get time to think about being pulled Friday night in Edmonton.
Backstrom made 37 saves to help Minnesota recover after a late collapse.
"When you've been pulled you start to worry about it, think too much and maybe it hurts your confidence," said Backstrom, who was pulled 23 minutes into the 3-1 loss in Edmonton after giving up three goals on 11 shots.
"You want to get out there and bounce back and the next game is always tough for that."
It didn't get any easier when the Canucks tied it on a power play with 15.3 seconds left in regulation. Kesler scored his second goal with Brent Burns in the penalty box for tripping and Luongo on the bench, pouncing on a rebound in the slot and lifting Vancouver's 40th shot of the game past a helpless Backstrom.
It was the second blown lead of the game for the Wild, but they didn't give the Canucks a chance to tie it a third time. With Daniel Sedin
off for tripping Mikko Koivu in overtime, Bergeron one-timed a shot that deflected off Canucks forward Ryan Johnson's leg as he dropped to block the shot, and past Luongo.
The penalty call on Daniel drew fire in the Canucks’ dressing room following the game as the Vancouver forward had already poked the puck off Koivu’s stick and was trying to turn up ice when the Wild forward hit the deck.
Made the critical saves when it counted and finished the night with 37 stops on a whopping 40 shots.
Two goals, including the game-tying goal with 16 seconds left. All determination, all night.
He's the heart and soul of the Minnesota team. Scored once in just over 21 minutes of ice.
“[Overtime penalty was] questionable at best," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "I mean Danny keeps the puck in and obviously his stick is not on the ice, but there was no hooking motion and I don’t know how a guy can dive like that or turn and lose his footing like that unless it’s a dive. But the referee saw it differently, we’ve got to deal with it and find a way to kill those penalties.clutching Sedin’s lumber to his mid-section.
“It’s tough to say,” said Daniel. “I think he lost the puck and kind of fell over my stick, but like I said [the refs] have a tough job obviously. It for sure is a tough call to get against you in overtime.”
Koivu also scored, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard had three assists, including on the winning goal, as Minnesota moved into a five-way tie with Edmonton, Phoenix, Columbus and Dallas for the last three playoff spots in the Western Conference.
"We arrived late last night, I'm sure everybody felt not so good but everybody found a way to dig deep," said Bergeron, who also had an assist. "We all knew what was on the table. We had to win this one and just keep being in the mix.
Luongo finished with 23 saves for the Canucks, who have lost eight straight (0-5-3) games to fall into 11th place - just one point behind Minnesota.
It was the ninth straight loss on home ice (0-6-3) for the Canucks, two short of the franchise-record winless streak set in the inaugural 1970-71 season.
"We never stopped fighting," Kesler said. "We were down 2-0 and it was going to be easy to quit and we didn't. We clawed our way back into it and found another way to get back into it. It was a tough way to lose at the end."
With Vancouver down 2-0 after Koivu and Bergeron scored 4 minutes apart midway through the first period, Kesler started the first comeback on a partial breakaway on a power play 4 minutes into the second period. Kesler appeared to steer the rebound in with his foot after Backstrom stopped his first shot, but there was no distinct kicking motion, so after a lengthy video review the goal stood.
Vancouver had a great chance to tie it when Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck was given a 5-minute penalty and game misconduct for boarding on a hit that left Alex Burrows bleeding just over 2 minutes later. But Backstrom stopped all nine shots on the ensuing power play, including a left pad robbery of Daniel Sedin
on the goal line, and Kyle Wellwood whiffed on two great chances at empty nets.
"We beat them because of Nik," said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, who didn't agree with the 5-minute penalty that left him short up front and forced defenseman Brent Burns to pay prolonged stretches as a forward.
"I was really surprised because it looked worse than it was to me. The referee told Clutterbuck he went for his head and I don't think that was the case. He deserved 2 minutes for sure, and if he's bleeding, 4 minutes."
Alexander Elder tied it 3 minutes into the third for the Canucks, but less than a minute after Henrik Sedin
rang a shot off the post, the Wild were back in front again. Bouchard's cross-ice pass off the rush got Luongo moving to his left, allowing Eric Belanger to cut back across the slot and wire a shot just past the goalie's outstretched blocker.
Luongo kept it close with a sprawling blocker save to take an empty net away Bouchard. But the diminutive Wild forward got the last laugh with soft pass to Bergeron in overtime, his third first assist of the game.
"I had a good shot and tried to go up but he s a great goalie, an all-star goalie, so he can make that kind of save," said Bouchard, robbed twice by Luongo in an earlier loss. "So I started trying to set up my teammates."
“I obviously think our battle level was better tonight and it needs to stay at that level and get better," said Vigneault. "That’s how you’re going to get breaks and you’re going to get the bounces. Obviously I think we deserved more than one point tonight, I thought we outplayed that team, especially in the last two periods, but their goaltender was the difference tonight."
Notes: Canucks RW Mason Raymond, who played for the sophomore team in the YoungStars game as part of the NHL All-Star weekend, was a healthy scratch after going without a point for 10 games. D Shane O Brien also was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... Minnesota, which improved to 11-12-0 on the road, opens a four-game homestand Wednesday against Anaheim. ... Vancouver won the first three games of the season series in regulation.