Spotting a team a 3 goal lead is something no team should make a habit of, even if it is the Toronto Maple Leafs. But the comeback that the Vancouver Canucks pulled off last night at the ACC was nothing short of magical. Alex Burrows got things started on the scoreboard, but it was Darcy Hordichuck's tilt with Leafs tough guy Colton Orr that seemed to awaken the beast that is the Vancouver Canucks.
With Andrew Raycroft in at the start of the 2nd for Luongo, the team tightened up defensively. They worked hard for the Canucks backup, knowing how important a comeback win against the team that ran him out of town and still pays a portion of his salary would be to him. The third period was something that we have become used to this year, but must have been both disheartening yet awe-inspiring for the Leafs Nation to witness, as the Sedins and Burrows toyed with the Leafs, cycling and passing the puck as though they were men playing against boys. And if there were ever an example of how in sync Burrows is with the twins, you just need to look at this pass to set up Daniel Sedin:
A couple minutes later, the Canucks tied it up again, this time Henrik Sedin getting in on the scoring from Daniel and Alex, and you could feel the collective sigh of an entire fan base.
Turnovers will kill you, and the Sedin line were relentless in their pressure, forcing a number of turnovers, none more glaring than on that goal. They kept up the pressure, and then with a little over two minutes remaining in regulation, the dagger was drawn and sunk into the heart of the Leafs:
The icing on the cake came in the last minute, as Burrows capped off a spectacular performance with an empty netter, and we all know who that was for:
While this night was all about the Sedin line, the second line had another decent game, managing a few chances. Kyle Wellwood and Pavol Demitra both played well, but Steve Bernier was awful last night, and given the way he's played this season that is really saying something. He was benched by coach Alain Vigneault, who moved Rick Rypien up to the third line in his place. I will not be surprised to see Ryan Johnson draw back in and Bernier get scratched in Montreal on Tuesday.
A real feel-good, team building kind of win to get the trip started. You know Roberto Luongo will bounce back against the Canadiens, but it was nice to see Rayzor come in and shut the door. After the rocky start our patchwork D really locked things down, Alex Edler was an impressive +4, and Nolan Baumgartner a +2. Another stat that really jumped out at me was Daniel's 8 shots on goal. That, and Kessel scoring two goals and still ending the night -1.
You have to give the Leafs credit for jumping on the Canucks early and doing a good job of limiting the Canucks chances in the first. With the news out of Toronto this morning that major changes are coming (likely JS Gigeure coming over from the Ducks), maybe now they can remember that theyre supposed to be rebuilding. I feel sorry for them that Burke couldn't resist his old ways and traded away those picks for Kessel. He set them back a year or two easily by doing that.
A big ol' Sunday breakfast buffet, complete with soul-crushing despair
Well the showdown of the two most brutal teams in the month of January was over early, as the Flames stomped the hapless Oilers 6-1. Adding insult to injury, literally was the news that Oilers D Sheldon Souray broke his hand fighting Jarome Iginla, as he tried to settle the score with the Flames captain for the gutless hit from behind earlier in the season that put him out of the lineup with a concussion. Iginla had a big night for the Flames with 2 goals and 2 assists, and while they celebrated heartily, sweeping their hated rivals for the first time in the 29 year history of the Battle of Alberta, this team has far from fixed the issues that are wrong with it. Changes should still be expected in Calgary, and as the Olympic break nears, expect moves.
One of the knocks on the Canucks this season was that blemish on their record against the East. After 3 impressive wins on their first Eastern road swing, they went into Carolina and laid a dud against the Hurricanes. That loss doesn't look quite so bad after the Hurricanes did the same thing to the Chicago Blackhawks last night, with a 4-2 victory. Cam Ward was stellar for the 'Canes, including robbing Patrick 'Shirt on the ground' Kane point blank in the dying seconds. With that win, the 'Canes pulled even with the Leafs in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
A big overtime win for the Ottawa Senators yesterday over the Montreal Canadiens, a costly one for both teams. Mike Cammalleri appeared to have blown out an MCL after being hit awkwardly into the boards, and Ottawa's Nick Foligno suffered a fractured leg after blocking a shot. Cammalleri will have an MRI on Monday, while Foligno will be out of the lineup 6 to 8 weeks. That was Ottawa's 9th consecutive win, making Thursday's match against the Canucks even more intriguing.