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A "Last Goal Wins" Game Recap ( 6-5 s/o W )

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The consensus was that points were dropped ( because they suck, supposedly. They do trail the Canucks by 40 points ) against the Sabres. Perhaps. The Blues are ahead of the Canucks by 11 points, and are from the real "beast" division, the Central. Not like us Pacific Division poseurs...

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Canuck record against those teams is 6-7-0.   Meanwhile, the Blues have only lost four times ( 11-4-2 ) to teams in the Pacific.  They are currently five points behind the Preds and five above the Hawks.

But I don't think you can say they are desperate for the points like the Canucks are at the moment.  With the Jets at 74, and the Wild currently tied with the Canucks at the 73 point mark, it is conceivable that five teams from the Central could make the dance.  So, with another "Big Boy" team in town, would we see the Canucks move up the table in points, or add another name to the injury list ?

With Frank Corrado coming back soon ( and Edler is practicing ! ) , plus Chris Tanev close, the latter is at least declining a little bit in the coming days.  Both the Blues and Canucks are 6-4 in their last ten, and were evenly matched going in.  On special teams, with the Blues have the 4th best power play, and the Canucks the 4th best penalty kill, and the Canucks average ( 15th ) power play would be matched up against the 19th best penalty kill for the visitors.

Would it be another close game with these guys ?  They usually are versus the Blues, as the Canucks are 7-0-2 in their last nine with the Missouri denizens.

1

The Blues must have talked about their recent record against this opponent, as they came out very strong.  The Sedins and Kassian had a great first shift, but the moments were few and far between after that early on, as the Blues were standing up in the neutral zone.

They opened the scoring as Ryan Reaves was the recipient of a bit of good fortune.  The Canucks did not cover well in their own end on the play, but Biega had to make a choice when he dropped his stick in his own end while defending.  He left the Blues' forward all alone, and he made no mistake to give his team an early lead.

It looked like one of "those games" that happen the first game at home after a long trip might be breaking out, as the Blues made it 2-0 shortly thereafter.  This one was a little bit more controversial, as the play started when Sbisa fell on what looked like a trip.  The ref decided not to call it though, and the play continued.  To be fair, he was on his feet over his blue line when he turned it over to Backes, who started a pretty passing play that ended with Pietrangelo getting his 6th for a 2-0 lead just 5:59 in.

Credit the Canucks with their response, under a couple minutes later, as Higgins beat an ill tied pinch and headed up ice with Matthias.  The second leading scorer for the Canucks buried the perfect pass from Higgins for his 16th of the year, and we suddenly had a game.

In fact, it was looking like one of those games where "last goal wins". when the Canucks tied it up with a real "meat and taters" goal, this time from the Bonino line, atoning for their running around on the Blues' opener with a solid play.  They cycled and turned over the puck along the boards for the shift, and eventually set up Yannick Weber for a booming shot from the point.  The screen was one of those double layered types where the goaltender never had a chance, and suddenly it was tied less than ten minutes in.

Eddie Lack got his chance at atonement as well, after two early ones got by him.  Now, of course, on both of them, their was little chance that any goaltender in the world would have had better luck, but on this play, he was once again the "Swedish Hasek", sprawling out after Jaden Schwartz had all day to pull his moves to try and beat the goaltender.  It was one of those "he saved that" (? ) kinda saves that inspires the "Ed-Die" chant at The Rog', and almost certainly sent a jolt through the bench.

In fact. it probably should have been 3-2 for the home team going into the second.  With Matthias out with the remnants of the Horvat line on a 3 on 2, he was all alone in the slot about to rip it when ( I believe it was #21, Berglund ) sawed his stick in half.  It was such an obvious call that the booing was actually muted and delayed at first, with the crowd in amazement that the arm did not go up.  It went up a bit later, on a make up call, when Stastny tripped Henrik Sedin, to give the Canucks a power play.  They had a few moments on it, but were unable to cash it in.  The refs then compounded their bad first period by calling it wrong on the cleanest shoulder to solar plexus hit I have seen in a while, with Dan Hamhuis rocking Jaskin with a textbook hit.

So, of course, when Peitrangelo went after him for a clean hit that was not called initially, by the look of it, it was called "roughing" on Hammer.  Well, OK then !  The sub plot was equally as much fun, as both Tarasenko and Horvat quickly trended in Vancouver when the Russian meekly declined when the Canuck rookie dropped his gloves in their accompanying scrum.

Here are the advanced stats from our friends at hockeystats.ca.  Check the graph.  I love the response after the Blues went up 2-0.   Regular stats here....

2

The second started out fun on the four on four, and then really heated up when Steve Ott was called for crosschecking Daniel Sedin. There was another scrum, and Reaves then went "full Slapshot" ( you never go full Slapshot ) and tried to get at Kassian.  They both went off, for roughing and a misconduct each.  It is always going to turn the thermostat on a game when you sucker punch a guy in the linesman's arms.  Kassian took a quick unexpected shot at Reaves early in the kerfuffle, but the Reaves sucker punch in response was pretty bad.  You could see the mouse under Kassian's eye grow in the penalty box.  A dirty play, without a doubt.

The goal that gave the Canucks their first lead was a pretty innocent play.  Hansen took a shot that leaked through the goaltender, and it was kicked in by the goaltender just as the whistle sounded.  He never had control of the puck, but who knows anymore when the war room gets involved.  In this case, it turned out to be a good thing for the home team, as they called it exactly what it was, a "hockey goal".  I can understand the Blues feeling jobbed, but it was a good goal on the scoresheet, as the referee's atoned for their early foibles a bit, at least in the home crowd's minds.

At 3-2, the Blues looked to respond.  Their heavy forecheck resulted in a great chance, and then a power play, when Jackman got a Vey stick in the face as it rode up his stick in close top the net.  The Top 5 power play they have looked dangerous, but the Top 5 penalty kill the Canucks have was a little better.

We really have to stop calling the Horvat line the "4th line" ( in fact, I noticed the line up Sportsnet used tonight had them as the 3rd ! ) anymore.  They dominated an entire shift, and after a couple of chances, Henrik Sedin came off the bench and cashed in on all that hard work by pouncing on a rebound and burying it for the 4-2 marker.  That goal was all Bo and Co.  ( and what a revelation Ronalds Kenins is.  He picked up his second assist on this one.  Thanks Mike Gillis ! )

The Blues got a late power play on a Weber cross check ( instead of Bonino knocking the puck out on the same play? ) , but they would have the bulk of it to start the third.

3

The PK was able to only give up one chance, and Eddie had that one, before killing off the rest of the penalty time. Tarasenko ( who has yet to register a point versus the Canucks in 9 games, I believe they said ), almost made it a one goal game with a five on five goal, but we got to hear the oh so satisfying "ping" of post and out.

The Vey, Higgins and Matthias line peppered the new goaltender ( Hitch' pulled Allen for Elliott to start the third ) soon after.  All the lines had their moments, in fact.  Finally, it was Nick Bonino, after some great play behind the net by Vrbata, who had one of those "snipe" goals that must have felt good for him.  It sure looked good.  Elliott looked to have that top corner just about locked up, and Bonino roofed it while falling forward.  What a 5-2 goal.  ( evidently Hitch' did not respect the shot that much however, as he pulled a "Keenan", and Captain Hooked Elliott right back out of the net in favour of Allen ).  Elliott had a bit of a "scene" as he went off.  Now the narrative was ready made for the Blues to come back.  ( He FIRED them up ! ).  More likely, they just took advantage of the Canucks running around late...

The Blues made it a one goal game with 5:31 eft when Tarasenko finally got on the board.  The shot from Lindbohm was one that Eddie might have done better on.  They just kept coming, and Backes finished off a nice give and go in close to tie it less than a minute later.  Oshie and Backes made a nice play, but Vey looked like a kid playing a man as he lost a battle for the puck with the big Blues' captain during the sequence.  It was their 15th shot ( to 4 for the Canucks ) in the third.  Just saying.

Bo Horvat had a breakaway late, and just got a piece of the glove on the backhand, stoning him.  Eddie had to stone Schwartz ( again ) with a glove save to get it to O/T as well, as the Blues tried to steal a point late, but were denied.

O/T and etc...

The four on four is Sedin Time, at least at the start.  They came out to start this one too, but it was the Blues, on a Daniel turnover at the line, that led to a 3 on 1 the other way. Oshie beat Lack but not the crossbar.  Bouwmeester then did the same off the ensuing face off.  The best chance for the Canucks may have been Higgins breaking in and being tripped, without the call.  The Sedins had some zone time, but no magic on this night in the O/T.

Bones - nice hands, outwaited Allen.

Oshie - out waited the shooter, got the pad on the puck ( just the top of it ! )

Vrbata - double deke instead of going to the backhand, made Allen go other way.

Tarasenko - sniped it past the glove with a wrister to keep the shootout alive.

Higgins - makes it three for three, seals the other point with a nice delay and wrister the other way after looking like he was going glove..

Numbers

41 - Ronnie Kenins. 2 assists, +2, 4 hits, and he skates miles.  Now has 10 points in 14 games.  The line up will change as guys come back, but this guy is in.  Has to be, right ?

36 - Was it just me, or did Jannik Hansen look like a rocket tonight ?  Those end to end rushes created havok all night.  Scored his 13th of the year.  He had 4 shots, 2 hits, and was the fastest guy on the ice all night long.

2 - Dan Hamhuis.  Loved that hit. +3, 3 hits, 25:16 TOI.  He is holding the defense together all by himself.

8-0-2 - Canucks record against this team in their last ten.

So, you can go two ways with this one.  Focus on the 5-2 lead lost ( and the Lindbohm goal was the one I would guess Eddie Lack was pissed the most on ), or how they scored five straight after going down 2-0 early.  Either way, the fans got their money's worth tonight.

Onto the next five against Pacific division foes, starting with the struggling Sharks.  The weaker of the West divisions is still pretty strong, but the way they are rolling four lines, if they can compete like they did tonight ( without that late collapse ) the next five should be fun !