Given the grueling nature of this back half of the Road Trip From Hell (tm), no one would have blamed the Canucks for coming up short last night in Denver. With a .500 record for the trip assured, and playing their 5th game in 8 nights, they could have mailed it in. And being down 3-0 after 1 period it certainly looked like that was the case. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, if you give this team a chance to come back in a game, they will not just take, but ram it down your throat.
Roberto Luongo regained his composure and gave the Canucks the opportunity to win the game last night, and led by a hat trick performance by Mikeal Samuelsson, the Canucks did exactly that, skating out of the Mile High City with a 6-4 victory. Samuelsson now has career highs in goals (27) and points (47). Henrik Sedin had another 3 assist night, helping him to move past Joe Thornton for the NHL lead in that category, as well as move to within 4 points of Alexander Ovechkin for the scoring lead. Henrik needs just 3 more assists to pass Trevor Linden for the all time team lead in assists.
Daniel Sedin ended his goal scoring drought with an empty netter, and Alexandre Burrows collected his team leading 30th of the year. For the second game in a row, Jannik Hansen potted the game winner, and while the pinball shot off himself and Avs goalie Craig Anderson may not have been pretty, it's a testament to the gritty effort this guy is capable of when given the chance.
10 come from behind victories for the Canucks now this season, 4 more than any other team in the league. While it may be a trend that causes indigestion in the Canucks faithful, it's also a sign of a team that maybe isn't getting the respect it deserves. It certainly, for me anyways casts the Chicago loss in a different light. 3rd game in 4 nights and an emotional week for Luongo, those things combined and I am willing to give him a pass on this one.
No time for them to rest on their laurels however, as the boys are now in Phoenix for the final game of the RTFH (tm). Give the Coyotes credit, they've managed to hang in there and now appear poised, barring a total collapse down the stretch, to make the playoffs for the first time in ages. Not that anyone in Phoenix has noticed, mind you. You know your team's in sad shape when the league trots out the stat that you're only losing $20 million this year as a positive thing. And can I remind everyone the NHL is notorious for being a little fast and loose with numbers?
An interesting little sidenote to tonight's match is that the Canucks could face defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who was dealt by the club to Phoenix a week ago at the trade deadline. A rivalry that already has some heat to it just got a whole lot spicier. With a win, the Canucks will finish this road trip at an inconceivable 9-5. Most experts said if we could come out of this at 7 and 7 we would be lucky. Look for this to give the Canucks legs tonight, and help them open up a 6 point lead over the Avs for the Northwest Division lead.
That's not a head shot... this is a head shot!
As we wait for the NHL's disciplinarian to hand down a punishment to Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke for his blindside hit on Marc Savard of the Bruins, Edmonton's Ryan Whitney decided to one up Cooke and go all Dave Brown on Ottawa's Chris Neil last night.
I don't believe Whitney is a past offender, but they simply can't let him get away with a slap on the wrist here. And even more shocking was the referee apparently arguing with Ottawa coach Cory Clouston that the hit was in the arm, not the head. Dangerous and stupid, Whitney needs the book thrown at him for this one.
The Calgary Flames made the race for 8th more interesting with a big road win in Detroit last night. Jarome Iginla and Rene Bourque are red hot for the Flames right now, as they scored 91 seconds apart as part of a 3 goal 3rd period for a come from behind 4-2 win over the Red Wings. Detroit now drops into the 9th seed, 1 point behind Calgary.
Newcomer Luca Caputi thrilled the hometown crowd in Toronto with a 3rd period goal and Nikolai Kulemin scored the OT winner as the Maple Leafs downed the Bruins 4-3. The win overshadowed a great game from Boston's Mark Recchi, the league's oldest active player who had a goal and 2 assists for Boston. Not bad for a guy the same age as me.
Minnesota managed just 11 shots on goal in a 3-2 shootout loss to Florida. The fact that they even got a point out of that effort should cause for celebration. Or maybe it just highlights how badly the NHL needs to revise it's point system to start rewarding the winners of games instead of losers.