The team they were facing might just be the stiffest test so far on this road trip. The Islanders are a strong young team, and they have John Tavares. They are for real. It is too bad that they will be moving off of Long Island, with all the history there. But this team will do just fine in Brooklyn, thank you very much.
The Canucks came into this one with a long list of injuries, and that list got a little longer tonight. Ryan Miller, played well, and stopping the first 10 shots efficiently. Unfortunately, a play by Hansen to deny a scoring chance resulted in him crashing into the Canuck #1 goaltender. It looked like he may have hyperextended his right knee. Just what we need, another injury.
The Islanders like to come out strong, and score first at home, and they certainly looked like that was the plan in this one. They came out strong, pushing the play, and forcing the Canucks onto their heels early in this one. After withstanding the early surge with some strong defensive play, the Canucks got this game turned around at the other end, and it was the Sedin Line.
The Twins have been awesome recently, and after their strong second half of a game on Friday, they had one of their best early shifts at around the 11 minute mark. In fact, they really should have opened the scoring. Kassian made a nice play to Sbisa, whose shot was denied. The rebound fell for Henrik Sedin, and with an open net, it looked pretty good. The goal was denied by Hamonic's stick, then Halak's glove, and finally the crossbar and out. #IMeanCaman
They then had to withstand a power play ( Horvat, hooking ), and did so very well early. In fact they were perfect on the night on the PK, and did an excellent job of keeping what looked like a dangerous power play to the outside all night, going 4 for 4.
Their own power play would get a late chance, as Mouillerat tripped Sbisa 200 ' from his own end. The Isle's rookie was not made to feel shame though. Well, not in the first period anyhow.
The Canucks opened the second on the power play, and they were able to make the Isles pay on a nice play off the rush. With the checkers at the line overcommitting to the puck carrier, Vrbata made a nice play to free the puck for Kassian, all alone on the opposite wing. He ripped it past Halak, but caught the post. Instead of helping his goaltender, the "skinny red friend" decided to taunt him instead, as the puck bounced off the post, then the back of the goaltender's leg before dribbling in for the 1-0 lead.
It was on the first shift after that where Hansen made the play ( on Bailey ) that injured Miller. Miller even had to make a save while in pain and tangled with his teammate, as the refs did not blow it down right away, letting the home team continue the play. He put little weight on it, and was limping noticeably as he left the ice. Let's hope it is not too serious.
Eddie Lack had to go in cold, and made a tremendous ( and slightly lucky ) save right off the hop. The first shift, Bailey had an open net, and shot it too close to the goaltender instead. Eddie made the first of his many tremendous saves right off the bench. That is impressive. Even after a Clendening delay of game penalty, and a Henrik Sedin tripping call 1:50 after that one that gave the Isles a brief 5 on 3, the Isles were unable to take advantage of the cold goaltender. Eddie Lack had a very good game tonight.
Instead, after Mouillerat took another penalty ( this one for hitting Vey from behind ), it was the Canucks that made the special teams special once again ( a big part of this win was the power play going 2 for 3 tonight ). They passed it around like they can, and when The Twins got it to Vrbata in his magic shooty spot ( left hand side of the net for the right shot, making the shooting angle better ), and he ripped it over Halak's shoulder for the 2-0 lead.
The Canucks would make it 3-0 on another great shift from Bo and Co. This time, Hansen got in on the defenseman, throwing the hit to free the puck. Kenins got the puck on the boards, and made a quick pass to Horvat, who ripped that strong wrister of his past the goaltender for a 3-0 lead.
The second might have been the Canucks best period of the trip so far ( the Ranger's game second period was pretty good too ). Every line was contributing and skating hard, and they forced another power play when the home team took a too many men call. The Canucks were unable to cash this one in, and took one of their own late to give the Islanders their own power play that would carry over to the next period.
( see the three goals and the rest of the highlights below... )
The Islanders threw everything they had at the Canucks in the third. The shots were 18-18 going into the final frame, and 37-24 at the end. That 19-6 edge in shots in the third featured a great many strong chances. They were all turned aside by Eddie Lack. His work was just as impressive as Miller's was early, and the strong goaltending was a major part of this win. There were so many good saves, but my fave was a save on a Vishnovsky shot that was tipped by Grabner from not too far away. That kind of tip is usually deadly, but Lack got the glove on it with a wonderful reaction save.
The Canucks responded to the physical play as well. The Islanders lead the league in hitting, and they do like to finish their checks ( I agree with Cheech though. There is something a little fishy with them accumulating so many more hits than other teams. #ArenaBias ) After a game where there were only 25 total hits, the Canucks actually ended up outhitting the Islanders 38-34. Alex Biega had 9 hits. Lucas Sbisa had 7. Dan Hamhuis had 5, and "The Big Guy" Zack Kassian had 4 while riding shotgun with The Twins.
The Islanders had a late power play, ( Kassian got the only call in a late scrum that featured Daniel Sedin putting Clutterbuck in a headlock ) and even pulled the goaltender with about 4 minutes left. It did not matter though. If they were able to get it from the outside ( the Canucks did a great job of keeping them outside tonight, both 5 on 5 and on the PK ) Lack was there.
The Canucks were able to get the empty netter ( Weber, who skated miles, and deserved the free goal ), and turned away from the silliness Clutterbuck tried to get going in the dying minutes. Whatever he had going with Kassian, there is no reason for him to spear Vrbata while he is still on the bench. Mind you, Dorsett responded with a spear from off the bench as well. I doubt any of it gets more attention than "boys being boys" tomorrow.
26:00 - Dan Hamhuis had a game high ( Tavares was 25:47 ) twenty six minutes on the ice. Mostly against John Tavares. He has been eating up the extra minutes so well recently, and was a +1, with 2 blocks and 5 hits.
29 / 54 - The Canucks lost the face off battle 29- 24 tonight, but do not blame Bo Horvat. The rookie was 9 of 14, ( Henrik Sedin was 9 of 15 ), and continues to grow in his game every time out. He was comfortable on the ice with Tavares or anyone else. He had a goal. That 64.3 % in the circle was pretty nice too though.
22 and 33 - The Sedin were driving the bus tonight. They were solid at both ends, and Henrik had 2 assists. daniel had 1, and had 4 shots. That second period made the 5 on 5 Corsi look ugly ( the entire team was a minus, after that third period ! ), but Captain Hank was a -2, which was the least worst.
7 - Alex Biega has been impressive in his short stint on the big team. But the number of hits he had in the first was 1, and after the second period, he had 2 hits. In a third period where the Islanders had a lot of the puck, the rookie callup was a physical beast in his own end. 7 hits in the third period is more than some guys have in a week.
5 - The number of a warrior. Lucas Sbisa had a couple turnovers. One was especially puzzling, as he held the puck in the slot instead of clearing it. But the man has been a warrior with al the injuries, and continues to have good games. He ended up a +1, had a shot and 3 blocks to go with those 7 hits. But it is the way he is playing overall that is impressive. I can say, I actually get where Jim Benning was coming from with this guy. He IS a Top 4 guy !
A thoroughly impressive win that was a total team effort. Even Willie was impressed. He gives his take below...
Next up is the Bruins on Tuesday. It would be wonderful to see this same effort, and a Kassian goal or two again to sink their playoff chances a bit, wouldn't it ?