As the calendar gets closer and closer to April with each day, the games become more and more important. That was the case on Tuesday night as the Vancouver Canucks clashed with the Winnipeg Jets with both teams jockeying for position in the Western Conference playoff race. The Canucks endured a physical game and thanks to some third period heroics from Ronalds Kenins, were able to knock off the Jets in overtime as Luca Sbisa delivered the game-winning goal.
Eddie Lack shook off some rust after not playing since January 13, making 26 saves to keep the Canucks in it all night.
Alex Burrows opened the scoring in the first period before Ronalds Kenins delivered a clutch third period goal to send the game into overtime where Luca Sbisa scored the game-winner.
The Canucks had the game's first power play when Anthony Peluso was sent off for cross-checking Derek Dorsett in front of the net. Vancouver had some good looks on net during the advantage, but came up empty. The Canucks have struggled on the power play as of late with just four goals in their last 36 chances heading into tonight. Almost as soon as Peluso was let out of the sin bin, he'd head right back after delivering a hit on Dan Hamhuis along the boards, sparking a fight with Derek Dorsett, who would also head off for starting the fight.
Winnipeg opened the scoring midway through the first period as Blake Wheeler swung the puck around Dan Hamhuis and turned on the jets (pun intended) and beat Eddie Lack, giving Winnipeg a 1-0 lead. The gaol was Wheeler's 15th of the season.
The Canucks evened things up just a few minutes later as Alex Burrows came up with a beautiful one-timer off a pass from Daniel Sedin. Burrows was ready for the pass, dropping down to one knee as he blasted home his 11th goal of the season. Burrows had just one goal since scoring against the Kings back on January 1, so I'm sure it was also a big sigh of relief for him. Maybe Burrows should stick with the Sedins, like it used to be during the good ol' days.
When Burrows scores from both Sedins, they should play the goal song from 2011.— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) February 4, 2015
Blake Wheeler had another chance at a breakaway, but this time it was Eddie Lack who got the best of Wheeler, coming up with a beautiful save to prompt the fans to chant his name from the rafters.
Radim Vrbata nearly gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead in the final seconds of the period. When TJ Galiardi tried to clear the puck down ice during a Canucks power play and whiffed, Vrbata was there to deliver a shot on goal, but Ondrej Pavelec was able to slide over just quickly enough to keep the game tied after 20 minutes.
The Canucks had a pair of power play opportunities in the first half of the second period, but couldn't cash in on either chance. There's not many fan bases that probably groan when their team goes to the power play, but the way the Canucks have been playing on the advantage lately, this about sums up our reactions.
#Canucks fans every time the Jets take a penalty pic.twitter.com/46tuDhQ61X— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) February 4, 2015
The Jets would get their first power play opportunity of the night midway through the second period as Dan Hamhuis was sent off for interference. Winnipeg controlled the puck well during the advantage, but couldn't generate any shots on net as the game remained tied.
Winnipeg would go back to the power play late in the period when Ryan Stanton was sent off for cross-checking. On the advtantage, Jacob Trouba skated in hard from one end of the ice to the other and made contact with Eddie Lack, knocking him out of position. Adam Lowry came in and delivered a goal, but it would be quickly overturned by the officials, keeping the game tied.
Frustrations began to boil over as Radim Vrbata took a hit from behind along the boards, sparking a scrum with just about everyone along the boards. After it was all said and done, Vancouver would head to the power play for the fifth time of the night. The Jets are one of the most physical teams in the NHL, and the Canucks were showing they couldn't be pushed around. Despite moving the puck well, Vancouver came up empty for the fifth time of the night while on the advantage.
In the final moments of the power play, Dan Hamhuis misplayed the puck at his own blue line, and Mike Frolik came in for a backhand shot on net that ricocheted off the right post, keeping the game tied at one goal a piece heading into the final period.
The Canucks had plenty of chances to take the lead while on the power play, but were still left searching for that elusive goal while on the advantage.
13 of #Canucks 23 shots on the PP. Getting their looks. But still searching for a PPG— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) February 4, 2015
The Jets reclaimed the lead early in the third period while on the power play as Ronalds Kenins headed off for holding. Winnipeg capitalized on the opportunity when Alex Edler broke his stick, allowing Ladd to pick up the loose puck and hit Bryan Little with a pass across the slot to take a 2-1 lead. Perhaps it's time for Edler to use a wood stick?
Just when you thought you couldn't hate Edler's broken sticks any more than you do.— Blake Price (@blakeprice1040) February 4, 2015
The Canucks would go on their sixth power play of the night when Blake Wheeler was sent off for holding. But like their other five opportunities, Vancouver fell flat while on the advantage with this one being perhaps the worst of them. Their best chance came when Adam Clendening hit Chris Higgins for a great scoring chance, but Higgins wasn't able to hit the open net.
Chris Tanev had a great opportunity to tie the game up, but his shot deflected off the post as the Jets held onto their 2-1 lead in the final period.
After a number of great chances, the Canucks finally evened things up as Ronalds Kenins scored his second career goal in as many games at a crucial time in this one. Somewhere up in the rafters of Rogers Arena, Zack Kassian was breaking a popcorn machine.
Kenins, in only his second game, just tied Kassian in goals this season.— Canucks Hockey Blog (@canuckshockey) February 4, 2015
The goal would turn this one into a 3-point game as the Canucks found themselves in their first overtime contest since a 2-1 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks back on December 28.
In the early moments of overtime, Alex Edler deked Bryan Little out of his skates, but couldn't beat Pavelec. Moments later, Luca Sbisa hit Radim Vrbata with a backhand pass as the Canucks skated into Winnipeg's zone. Sbisa then slid in behind Vrbata to go to his forehand for the game-winning goal. Sbisa has had three goals this season, with two of them being game-winners.
The Canucks are back at it on Thursday night when they take on the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena. With tonight's clutch win, the Canucks moved into third place in the Pacific, right behind the Sharks. Vancouver has won their first two contests against the Sharks this season and will play them twice more next month.