Even while mentioning the 10 of their last 19 back to backs at home being after the Sharks or Kings had gotten a team, there is no denying that Bruce Boudreau has his deep team playing well. Going into this game, the Canucks need all their guys, and losing Luongo was big, even if he probably was just the back up tonight.
But losing Chris Higgins and calling up Benn Ferriero ( 10 goals and 22 points in 32 games in the AHL in Utica ) was probably the bigger surprise, ( no offense Lui... ) though Higgy did miss several shifts last night. The new lineup, ( at the start, you know Torts ) put Santorelli up with the Twins, a Big Ol' Line with Tom Sestito and Zack Kassian getting the promotion to new wingers for Team USA's #1 centre ( yes, it's spelt that way ). With Hansen going down to what was left of the 3rd line, and Ferriero joining the remains of the 4th, we weren't sure what to expect.
But, while the lines changing had an efffect ( Both good and bad, I thought after Kassian went down, the balance in the cobbled together lineup went with him ), and the Sestito, Kesler, Kassian line looked pretty good, this game was all about the goalie. Eddie Lack deserved better, but the Ducks probably deserved the result based on their performance.
How about the Big Ol' Line having two great shifts to start, for instance, and the Canucks best chance, until Mike Santorelli missed a wide open net with Hiller still behind it expecting it to be 1-0 early. Aye Caramba! Gotta bury that one.
The Canucks were definitely the better team in the first 8:37, (foreshadowing : it would be hard to say that kind of thing later on! ) until an icing made things look iffy, what with Olympic lock types Getzlaf and Perry out against Richardson's line. But poor Corey just could not restrain his inner pinhead, and took a foolish tripping penalty on Hansen off the draw.
The first power play had Higgy on it when he was in the lineup, and without him, Tom Sestito must have thought it was his birthday today, as his ascendancy to net front presence took most of the internet by surprise. He certainly was aptly blocking out the sun when Ryan Kesler, from the top, took the perfect pass ( Sedins copyright ) and blasted it into the back of the net. Canuck Nation in Anaheim erupted loudly,and the goal was a positive reward for a good power play , and an 8-1 edge in shots by the first TV timeout. The pressure ended up drawing a too many men call at the first TV timeout to give the visitors another chance to try the new PP out.
The second power play looked dangerous on their first rush, where Big Tommy was unable to get all of a "behind him" Henrik Sedin pass ( had to calibrate the bigger wingspan ? ;-)...and even more dangerous, as Cheech pointed out the new alignment, with #17 up top, and Daniel the rover all over.
Henrik Sedin took a hard slapper that may have been tipped by Sestito up top ( another perfect screen, regardless. It ended up being Fowler's stick. I just like talking about how well Tommy was going to this point ! ) 2-0 , and getting rewarded for the good execution, as Henrik Sedin scored, on a two for two power play. Nice to see for a change !
It should have been 3-0 on a perfect breakout by the Big Ol' Line, but Zack hit the post. After one of the few shifts where the Ducks had any sustained zone time ( a fourth on fourth line shift that was broken up by Weise blocking a shot and starting a rush ), a spirited bout between Richardson and Palmieri stopped a Booth rush prematurely. A shot late by Perry was only the 3rd before a flurry in the last seconds flattered the Ducks in a first period where they were badly outplayed.
- Tom Sestito. Man of the hour had two perfect screens, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 7:11 over 9 first period shifts that was already a night's work for the Upstate New York native. ( he finished -1, 2 shots, 3 hits, one not costly minor and 3 hits in 21 shifts and 16:16 TOI that included 3:40 on the PP. Who knew? )
- Kevin Bieksa . Juice was swashbuckling on passes and getting involved, and had 4 blocks, as someone other than Chris Tanev led this category for a change! Also a shot, and what they gave him as a miss, but it looked like one of those "board passes" to me. ( he ended up with a goal, 6 blocks, a -2 that was mostly deserved, 2 minors that included the "had to" one at the end, and 3 hits. )
- Henrik Sedin . A goal and an assist already, 100 % shooting percentage in the period, and 4 for 8 on draws. Daniel Sedin. 2 assists, and 3 of his 5 shot attempts ( most on team ) forced saves from the embattled Hiller. The line got stronger as the Sedins and Santoreli figured each other out, in the cycle. ( Hank ended up with a goal, 2 assists, 2 hits, a game high 4 giveaways, and a couple set ups that Santorelli could have had. Daniel, 3 assists, 4 of his 7 shot attempts on Hiller, 2 hits, and all things considered, a strong game, along with his brother )
The Fenwick Chart looked like a child's drawing of a dinosaur after 20 minutes, as the Fenwick for % was 75% to 25%. Wowsers...
Boudreau must have been at his 24/ 7 best, as the ducks came out hard. They got a tip from koivu just 24 seconds in to cut the lead in half, and the pressure was a harbinger of the game to come.
A shift where the the Getz' top line got out on the Canuck fourth resulted in a great glove save, and the Ducks kept pushing, before disaster almost struck. Kassian was trailing Lindholm from behind the net in the offensive zone when Sestito went to blow the young defenseman up. Lindholm avoided it, and Kassian ate the boot of Sestito's skate, ( he was bloodied, and dazed, but at least it wasn't the blade! He did not return though, and his absence was felt ) and another Canuck was suddenly out of the lineup, as the injury list added a second page.
Santorelli somehow missed a goal after a bit of backhand sauce that Burrows would have buried ( sorry Mr Everything Jr ). It was a bit off the ice, but definitely one he should have buried to make it 3-1. He was better later in the shift, just missing Kesler off the bench in front. Zac Dalpe is slightly smaller than Weise, but drew the Big Ol' Line straw. The Canucks still tried to battle, but the Ducks were coming in waves, with the sustained pressure being dealt with to the outside as much as possible, before a weak, weak call on Bieksa in front on Perry. Either he's one of the refs' nephews, or he dived in front and the ref bought it. I've got the latter.
The power play of the Ducks is loaded with talent, and while a 1 for 32 became 1 for 33, they forced some big saves, had great pressure, and pushed the Top PK in the NHL to their limit. Still, with 4:32 left, the Canucks had no shots on goal ( a less than august stat in a period last reached in 2007 against the Devils ) something that hadn't happened in a while...
I know the Ducks were coming hard, but there was no excuse for what happened next. The supervisor of refs should be getting a call from the Canucks after this one. Simply put, it was dirty. Kyle Palmieri flat out ran Eddie Lack without a call, and little contact from Dan Hamhuis. Are you freaking kidding me? Torts was blasting Kevin Pollak for it to no avail, and it was totally deserved by the coach. That was bush league. . A "rent a goalie" on the bench is bad enough, but that was obvious that there was an attempt to do it on purpose to get Eddie, and Bruce Boudreau should know better if he told Palmieri to do that.
It is ironic then that the Canucks had some great pressure, their best of the period, from the Kesler line,( with Dalpe back in Kassian's vacated spot ) and block from Palmieri led to a Belesky goal on the rush, as Bieksa was late on the back check, and Garrison couldn't get the pass off the rush. I suppose it is deserved that a 17-0 at that point shot disparity be rewarded, but this was once again a game of wild momentum swings.
The Twins would generate a couple shots, and Sestito would have his worst moment with a total brain fart penalty late to force the goalie and PK defense to be good, again, but to say the Ducks dominated would be an understatement.
- Perry rode the wave of Mo' to have 3 of his now 5 shot attempts force saves. ( Perry ended up with 10 shot attempts, 6 on net, and was pretty good late. Bastard )
- 20 - 2 shots in the second. The Fenwick chart went from a gaping maw to a closed circle. ( it ended up looking like a bow tie, the way the lines crossed by the end! Talk about turning it around! )
- How big a period? The Fenwick for % went from 75% - 25% to 51.9% to 48.1% in the Ducks favour. ( Final Fenwick For % was 64.2 - 35.8 % in the home teams' favour )
- Seriously refs. Look at that replay. Dan Hamhuis aint that strong. Protect the ****ing goalies.
- Eddie Lack faced 20 shots and constant pressure, and the game was tied going into the third.
It was Torts' turn to do the "motivational speaker" thing after a period like that, but unlike the home team, the visitors ( with a still loud Canuck Nation traveling well. Great noise all night guys! ) would have to kill off some power play time on the fresh ice. They crushed the remaining seconds under their ravenous PK's hobnailed boot, and then the Sedin line went to work.
A fantastic bit of cycle, and execution gave the Twins their 3rd points of the game, with Santoreli and Daniel Sedin ( possible tip ? ) providing the screen and Bieksa providing a shot on net that got through to make it 3-2. Well executed guys.
Perry was rolling now though, and while the Canucks had their moments in the 3rd, the home team began to take the momentum again. Perry forced a strong save with a sneaky 6th shot attempt. His 7th in close on a bouncing puck may have forced the save of the game for the birthday boy, and led to more pressure, forcing a great save on Silverberg as well. With the first line leading now, the Ducks were forcing the play. This was NOT the present Eddie was expecting for his big day! Eddie Lack just kept focusing on the next shot though, and there were a lot of them, for the second night. With less than 5 minutes left, he had stopped the 40th shot, then the 41st on a 2 on 1 on Belesky. A glove snag for the 42nd. Penner on the 43rd...
There were a couple icings, and the Ducks had a bit of help on an icing, but , unfortunately, the damn bust on the next shot. A Garrison clear was not good enough, and Bonino beat Lack high to tie it up with little over a minute left. It was too bad, as Eddie certainly was playing well enough to win.
The Ducks had a couple late shots, and Santorelli had a good chance late to steal it, but both teams would get a point, and play for the other one in O/T, with the Duck home ice record still secure.
O / T
The Ducks had some early pressure, but nothing really too troubling, before an offensive zone face off with about 3 minutes left led to some Sedinery that almost got Garrison a goal, but he shot it wide. The Sedins and Kesler with Hanhuis forced some more pressure, before Daniel Sedin committed a cardinal sin at his blue line, stick handling as the last guy back.
It forced Bieksa to take a hooking call, and gave the last 1:06 to the Ducks to try and win it before the shootout. A Getzlaf shot was blocked, and the great PK looked to have it killed, as Kesler got it out with about 4-5 seconds left. Unfortunately, my least fave superstar, Corey Fucking Perry, ruined the party, getting a late shot that dribbled through Lack to win the game at the death. He'll say he should have had it, and maybe he should have, but Eddie Lack should hold his head up high. Many of the 49 shots he faced were good ones. Put it this way. He was a .918 save % while giving up 4 goals, and the winning goalie was a .850 save % on the night.
The Canucks got a hard earned point, probably entirely because of Eddie Lack. Credit the Ducks for forcing the issue. It looks like the home ice thing means something to them, even if this is now 11 times it was against a tired opponent. Or, perhaps it is because they are a hard team to play against? ( they only have 38 3rd period goals, compared to 34 for the Canucks. Whatever the reason, they were exactly what the record reflects tonight, a strong, deep team that can get offense from all four lines )
Too bad for Eddie, and too bad for the Canucks. If Mike Santorelli can close the deal on two Sedin set ups and we aren't even discussing a buzzer beater. Go into the next one mad you didn't get it done for Eddie in this one boys, and do the same thing to the Penguins at home. Your game is still good, even without the recent results. Perhaps with last change, the same effort shown by the winners tonight will suffice for the big win that you probably deserved by your goalie's performance tonight.