Kyle Wellwood scored what turned out to be the game winner late in the third as the Canucks fought off a feisty Dallas Stars squad to win 4-3 and move into 5th place in the Western Conference last night at GM Place. I will take a moment so you can wipe the coffee off your monitor. Between that, and a and a shorthanded goal by Alex Burrows that is likely going to haunt Alex Auld for the rest of his career, it was an interesting game to say the least. Complete post-game coverage as always as well as a look at an action packed night after the jump...Mason Raymond got it all started in the first period last night, getting off the schneid with his first in 11, firing a sweet backhand over the shoulder of Auld. Raymond has been playing well despite not scoring since his hat trick against the Flames, so it was nice to see him notch one. The Stars tied it up before the end of the period though, as Loui Ericksson slid one through the five-hole on Luongo to knot it at one. A bad defensive breakdown on this one as the Sedin line looked uncharacteristically bad on their own zone coverage, leaving Ericksson wide open in front of the net.
The Canucks gave up a bad shorthanded goal in the 2nd, Alex Edler clanking one off the post, the rebound gobbled up by the Stars' Toby Peterson, who fired a shot over Roberto Luongo's glove hand that left many people scratching their heads at how he could have missed that one. Cue Alex Burrows. After having a goal waved off due to a kicking motion, Burr was on the penalty kill when he challenged Auld for the puck, poking it through the former Canucks' goaltenders legs then firing it into the empty net. Sorry Auldy, we love ya, but you looked absolutely Cloutier-esque on that one.
That goal seemed to spark the Canucks and take a little life out of the sails of the Stars, who had lost nine straight on the road. Early in the third we saw another one of those magical Sedin moments, Burrows to Henrik, over to Daniel who fed a streaking Christian Ehrhoff, who deposited the puck past Auld to give the Canucks the lead. Then after a night of lackluster play Steve Bernier (who had stepped up admirably to fight Mark Fistric after the Stars forward hit Pavol Demitra on a somewhat dirty hit) set up Kyle Wellwood, who streaked in and scored what looked to be insurance with his 5th of the season. Three seconds left doesn't equal the end of the game however, as Luongo let a Trevor Daley shot get past him for the 4-3 final.
Once again, not the best effort, but the boys got it done. Considering the loss of Sami Salo with a strained groin, and Brad Lukowich dealing with a skate issue for a few minutes, the other 4 Dmen stepped up in this one. Lukowich had a great game, assisting on Raymond's goal, and finished with 2 hits, 3 blocked shots and a +2 rating. Henrik Sedin still leads the NHL in scoring, 3 points up on Washington's Alexander Ovechkin. And the legend of Alex Burrows continues to grow, as he scored his 13th goal in nine games. By comparison, the Calgary Flames have scored 15 in their last 9 games. Burrows now sits in a tie for 8th place in goals scored with Mike Cammalleri and Rick Nash. While it's hard to imagine that Burrows and Sedin can keep up this torrid pace, Derek Jung over at The Hockey Writers shows us the jaw-dropping numbers they can pile up if they do.
The Canucks once again find themselves in a mess with defensive injuries, with Salo, Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa all no go's for Saturday against Chicago. Nolan Baumgartner is likely to get the call from Manitoba, as Edler, Ehrhoff, Lukowich and Shane O'Brien handle the majority of the minutes. Aaron Rome has looked not too bad since his return, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about Saturday's game against the powerhouse Hawks.
The Variety box o'donuts (no coconut, and hands off the boston cream, that one's mine)
More scoreboard help for the Canucks last night as the Nashville Predators lost to Phoenix powered by former Kamloops Blazer Scottie Upshall and his first career hat trick. That win, combined with shootout wins by LA and Detroit see the Calgary Flames in 9th place this morning. The Flames had Mikka Kiprusoff standing on his head once again, but a deflection off Ben Eager's skate ended up being the winner there. To say that the natives are getting restless in Calgary is an understatement. 6 losses in a row, and the fans are screaming for changes, whether they be trades or firings, something has to give. Calgary doesn't even have the option of going to their farm team, as years of poor drafting has left the Flames with a bleak future. They don't even have a first rounder this year, thanks to that brilliant deadline day deal that sent Olli Jokinen to the Flames. Boy, that's worked out well, hmm?
Much of last night's attention was focused on the Penguins hosting the Capitals for the first time since their 7 game playoff series last season. Alex Ovechkin came out the victorious in this one, his 2 goals bettering one from Sidney Crosby as the Caps beat the Pens 6-3. Lots of nastiness in the Rangers/Flyers game last night as Daniel Carcillo pulled an Avery on the Rangers' Marian Gaborik. Avery then responded by letting Scott Hartnell punch him in the head a few times, though Avery did manage to get the upper hand later in the game on Carcillo. NY coach John Tortarella was furious after the game, even getting into a verbal battle with NY Post writer Larry Brooks. Torts has mellowed a bit over the years, hasn't he?
A lot of trade talk swirling around the Canucks and Blues right now, as the Canucks GM Mike Gillis and assistant Lawrence Gilman were both at the Habs/Blues game in Montreal this week, and Blues GM John Davidson was spotted scouting the Manitoba Moose. Some suggest the Canucks are making a pitch for C David Backes, who if you recall was signed to an offer sheet by the Canucks last season, forcing the Blues to match it. I would imagine Cory Schneider would be the price here, with the coveted goalie addressing some of St. Louis' most pressing issues. There's also talk that Carlo Coliacovo and former Kamloops Blazers D Darryl Sydor could be on the move as well.
Finally, I swore to my wife I was not going to post any more about Auger-gate, but one of those bastards over at Kukla's Corner had to go mess that up for me. Nicely written piece by someone who gets that as much as we want it to, we can't just let it go. Dammit.