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Vancouver Climbs Back Into Tie Atop Northwest With Win Over Flames

Almost a year ago to the day this happened: in what turned out to be Linden, Naslund and Morrison's last games donning the orca, the playoff-bound Flames absolutely pasted the Canucks 7-1 on their own ice. Iginla notched two in the win. It was the final insult in what turned out to be a lost season.

So last night's 4-1 win, that pushed Vancouver back into a tie with Calgary for first in their division and home ice for the first round, may not be much by the end of the week, but in a cosmic sense, especially considering what a mess Vancouver was this time last season, feels very, very right.

The win certainly didn't come easy. Calgary controlled the pace for much of the game and the shot totals tell part of the story there: they were outshooting Vancouver 4-0 in the opening minute, 11-2 by the end of five minutes, 21-9 by the end of the first period and 47-25 by the end of the night. At one point Jokinen (who has never scored on Vancouver in his career) had five shots alone on Luongo, the Canucks as a team had four.

Even with everything on the line, the Canucks started the game flat and added a five straight calls parade to the penalty box starting midway through the second, at one point handing Calgary a 66 second 5-on-3.

Let's not kid ourselves; on most nights, a game like that is a loss. Said KesLORD afterwards:

"Our game is nowhere near where it should be...We need to tighten up all over the ice. You never like to criticize a win, but if Louie didn't play the way he did, we might have lost 8-0 or 9-0. It wasn't a very good effort. There's lots we have to tighten up before the playoffs or we're going to be four [games] and out."

Captain awesome added in the post game:

...that was a vintage Panthers day right there.

If Vancouver showed some of its demons last night, so too did Calgary. Iginla and Kipper were fine, but Bertuzzi was terrible again (Wellwood powered him off the puck in the third; think about that), Jokinen couldn't hit the mark, Phaneuf tipped in the game winner on his own net and they got into penalty trouble late (though, lucky for Calgary, Vancouver's power play is simply awful). The Canucks held the Flames scoreless on six powerplay attempts, stretching Calgary's powerplay issues to a 0-for-37 run in their last seven games.

But the story of the night featured a script we know by heart: Luongo stealing the show. Calgary couldn't buy a break despite being the more aggressive team. Their puck luck was nil: missing the top shelf when Luongo was down, ringing a few shots off the posts and not being able to chip it by him when bedlam ensued in his crease. Luongo just had their number; hell, when Keenan, the guy who booted Lui out of Florida, praising his play, that should say it all.

All in all, last night's game makes Dowbiggin's piece from yesterday even more absurd. And (shockingly) the hack hasn't written anything as of this morning.

Rick Rypien opened the scoring with his third of the year (all against Calgary) late in the first period. Mark my words: if Rypien can get on the scoresheet and play his type of game (barring injury), we'll have another Burrows for the post season. For the love of disabilitating left hooks to the face Vigneault, give that man more icetime.

Ohlund potted the other two for Vancouver, one on the PP late in the third to put the game away. Henrik added a nice wrister for the fouth Vancouver goal of the night with less than three minutes left in regulation.

So what now? Vancouver faces the 13th place LA Kings tomorrow night and the 15th place Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. They don't control their destiny (Calgary holds the tie breaker in wins) but the Flames will face the Oilers in a home and home Friday and Saturday. All Vancouver needs to do is beat two of the worst teams in the division (as we know, quite easier said then done). Edmonton just needs to steal a point (or better still four).

For just a few days, it's time to swallow our pride and summon from the depths of our being a loud, resolute: "Go Oil!"

Fun fact of the day (via the Calgary Sun): This is the first season since 1995-96 the Vancouver Canucks can claim five different 20-goal scorers.