Around these here parts, Ryan Johnson is affectionately known as 'Balls', for that wonderful combination of fearless and crazy that he exhibits in getting in the way of opponent's shots. Well after a few games that saw him regaining that form that makes him a valuable 4th liner, Ryan Johnson reaped the reward last night, getting what would be the eventual game winner in a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks at GM Place.
After another strong first period, the Canucks were in tough against a San Jose Sharks squad eager to right the ship and avoid their 3rd straight loss. The Canucks got first period power play markers from Alexander Edler and Ryan Kesler, and looked as though they might be heading for one of those offensive explosion kind of games. The Sharks did manage to tighten things down, getting a second period marker from Ryan Clowe before Johnson added his first goal in 83 games, stuffing the puck behind Evgeni Nabokov. The Sharks got a 3rd period tally from Joe Pavelski, but couldn't get the equalizer.
Though the Canucks patchwork defense struggled at times overall it was a pretty gutsy effort against one of the best teams in the NHL. The Sedins were a non-factor in the game last night, though they did get some chances and Alexandre Burrows looked particularly dangerous at times. Shane O'Brien was solid in his return to the lineup as he replaced Andrew Alberts, even notching an assist on the game winner from Johnson.
And in a week where the Roberto Luongo worry machine was cranked up once again, Luongo came in and shut down the Sharks, stopping 32 of 34, a couple of them of the spectacular nature for his 37th win of the season. The Canucks now have a 5 point lead over the Avalanche for the Northwest Division title, and are 5 points behind the Blackhawks and Sharks for 1st in the Western Conference.
Bread and water for you...
The NHL came down hard on Anaheim's James Wisniewski yesterday, suspending him for 8 games for the hit on Chicago's Brent Seabrook Wednesday night. Wisniewski's reputation as a repeat offender no doubt played a factor in the suspension, as he has been suspended 2 times previous, a 1 game ban for a cross check to the neck of current Canucks F Mikael Samuelsson, and a 2 game suspension earlier this season for a headshot on Phoenix's Shane Doan.
The Matt Cooke Is Gonna Pay Night they had in Boston yesterday was a huge success. For The Penguins. Cooke dropped the gloves with Shawn Thornton, who recieved a 10 minute misconduct for continuing to hit Cooke in a vulnerable position. The Pens cruised to a 3-0 win, in a game that was almost painful to watch. With an effort like that, how on earth can Boston expect to hang on to the 8th and final playoff spot. That team just baffles me with their inability to score goals.
After a couple days of R & R in Kelowna the revitalized Detroit Red Wings are in Edmonton tonight before a date with the Canucks tomorrow. The Flames meanwhile will have a San Jose Sharks team looking to stop a 3 game losing streak. Looks like some split-screen action is in order tonight as Canucks fans will want to keep an eye on both of these games.
St. Louis Blues forward Paul Kariya scored his 400th NHL goal last night in a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. The Blues are battling to stay close in that race for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West, 4 points behind the Flames and 5 back of Detroit.