The Canucks have been 7-3 in their last ten. Now, of course, there are some in our fine and fun fanbase that will point to the loss in their last game, against a team playing out the string, and this result as well. The Stars are no pushover, at least for the Canucks though, as they have beaten the Canucks in their last
five six meetings.
The Av's still have about a 1% chance at the dance. Tonight's opponent has even less of one ( they are now a .8 % chance of making the dance after this one. The Canucks are 95.8%. So, there's that ), and while the Canucks may " owe them one", in that they got their asses kicked by this team earlier this season, this was another of those "points" opponents before the tough road trip against potential playoff teams that awaits.
It is a good thing their road record is better ( 22-12-3 ) than the home record ( 21-15-1 ). This game would not be a "panic button" game win or lose, after the Kings lost to the Wild ( the only other teams as hot as the Canucks over the last ten at 7-3, before tonight, was the Jets, and tonight's opponent, the Stars ), but I am sure Willie reminded his guys how well this opponent has been playing lately.
As both teams warmed up without music, with the PA system down for the pregame, one would think that both teams might come out flat, hockey players being the creatures of habit they are. Eddie Lack was ready though, with two early saves . But they could not be denied, as the Canucks were guilty of once again having a slow start. Jamie Benn parked himself in front, almost tipped it, and troubled Lack enough that the rebound fell to him with the open net, and the visitors had a quick 1-0 lead. So, maybe it was only one team that were affected by the change in routine ?
The Matthias line generated some momentum, and then Roussel got the gloves up in Dorsett's face, and the saw the chance to try and give the bench a jolt, with a spirited early fight, as the Canucks started to respond.
In fact, the Canucks responded well to the early goal, ( they usually do, as giving up the early goal happens often ! ) with Vrbata getting a great chance just tipped by a defender, and Horvat getting robbed on a nice Kenins feed. It was the Stars that would get the first power play, as Hamhuis was sent off for a trip. But the Canucks' 2nd ranked penalty kill made sure Dan did not have to feel shame this time around.
Shortly thereafter, we got to see some of the returns on that Tanev deal ( I like it Jim Benning ! Good value by the end, I wager ), as he made a smart pass to catch the Stars on a change to Vrbata, who fed a pass as the goalie went down to Bonino, and Bones made no bones about it to tie the game at one.
The Horvat Line was having a good early bounce back from the minor tire fire that was the Avs game, as they would often pin whomever they were playing against, even the Benn line, in their own end for the majotrty of the time against, generating chances. With 5:36 left in the first ( TV time out )while the rest of the team was hovering around even or so in 5 on 5 Corsi, they were +3 ( Horvat ), +5, ( Hansen ), and +6 ( Kenins ).
- Ronalds Keins had 3 shots and 2 hits in 5:32 TOI ( that is a lot for a so called "fourth line", aint it ? Horvat went 3 for 5 in his 6:34, and Hansen had 6:53 already, as well as a shot and a hit. They got the dash on the Dallas opening goal, but obviously Willie saw the same thing that this humble scribe was noting. That line was driving possession and pushing the momentum meter higher each time they jumped over the boards. They finished +4, +1, and +3 respectively at 5 on 5 on the Corsi chart. Kenins +4 also lead the team. Did I mention that their ice time led the team, as the 6:53 led the roster.
- After some early shots, the Stars only edged the Canucks 10-9 on the shot clock, and the Canucks outhit the visitors 9-5 after twenty minutes.
- Bones had a goal, and was 5 for 6 on draws.
The Canucks kept coming, as this game had a definite back and forth feel. They maybe had an argument on a Horvat non goal because Hansen was in the crease, as Beaker was pinned in there by the defender ( s ). The Canucks would take the lead in shots ( 14-13 after 5:34 ), and then the Stars would take it back ( 16-14 after 7:01 ). The Horvat Line ( nicknames anyone, what do a Latvian, a Dane and a Canadian have in common besides kicking ass and being puckhounds ? ) generated a great chance for Kenins, but he shanked it wide, and then Bo broke in on net and forced the penalty for the Canucks' first power play.
The first unit did nothing, but the second unit looked dominant, and a nice period of throwing it around ended up with Burrows causing havoc in front, and Higgins high tipping in a Hamhuis shot for the 2-1 lead. Tanev, the newb' on the second unit, got the second assist.
The Stars did get some late momentum going in the period, with their best zone time in a while, but were unable to threaten any further. Vrbata, after a nice late pinch with time running down by Edler, got a late howitzer that just missed, and the Canucks went to the room with the lead.
- Jamie Benn was +10 at 5 on 5 to lead the Stars' forwards on the Corsi Chart ( thanks hockeystats.ca. That possession graph looking like a DNA strand usually means it was a fun game to watch too ) , and Goligoski's +8 led his team. They were outshooting the Canucks 23-19 after two, ( Sbisa -10, and his partner -5 ) Seguin was +7 5 on 5 as well. Vrbata was +8 to lead the team, and Bones and Kenins were tied at +7 five on five after 40.
- Burrows, and both Sedins were a combined -15 five on five, and shared the blame equally. Do the math. Not their best game tonight, though Daniel got an assist.
- Fiddler was 5 of 7, and Spezza 5 of 8, but I doubt they were getting too many versus Bonino, at 7 of 8 after two periods. Horvat took the most draws on the team by then, and was 6 of 10.
It has to be said though, the Seguin line, with Benn ( and others on that team, although he only has 8 in his last 33, and of course had a knee injury this year ), has game changing talent. Tyler has two chances, and one of them grazed the post, while the other was denied by Eddie Lack, who was in superb position, as usual.
Bones made another game changing play, as he had a great game, taking away the slot on a perfectly times block to deny one chance, but the Stars were definitely the aggressors early in the third. Off of a turnover though, the Bonino line lad a fantastic shift, with about four chances, as both Bones and especially Vrbata really could have gotten that third goal.
The refs decided to get involved in this one about eight minutes in, giving the Stars a gift icing. Klingberg made a nice play keeping a puck in, to be sure, but there was no way in hell that should have been a face off there to begin with. ( I have rarely seen Henrik Sedin that animated arguing something like an icing call as he was after this one ) In a game where the Canucks could have been up by two, suddenly it was tied on a jam play at the net, by a guy behind it, as Patrick Eaves got it past Lack.
The power play had a chance to change the game at his point, but could not. Then it would be the Stars with the quick strike offense, as Edler fell after his skate clipped Seguin's. In a period where the Canucks were pressing and playing solid, with a nice Daley pass and a clinical finish for his 30th by Seguin, it was suddenly 3-2, and the spectre of lost points on home ice loomed again.
The Stars ground, and it looked grim with 1:38 left. But then Seguin slashed the stick out of Edler's hands as a dump in went by them, and the Canucks had the late chance. Edler and Vrbata had two quick shots saved, and then Willie pulled Lack. They had some outstanding pressure off the two man advantage, and Vrbata, who had looked like he was going to score all game, spun around and ripped it past the goalie to tie it up.
The Stars had all kinds of pressure late, but the Canucks gained the crucial point, and the chance to get the next four on four or in a skills competition.
This game featured a ton of talent that could do something with the extra ice, and a "screw it, let's wreck for these guys" Stars team were going to be dangerous.
After an early Stars' chance, Horvat won the ensuing face off so cleanly that he set up the break out, and the duo of he and Dorsett, with Edler and Tanev, really should have scored. I think every one of them had a chance or potential one. Lack made a nice save on Hemsky on a two on one Bieksa played very well, letting the goalie take the shooter, but then Klingberg came up ice on another ensuing rush and beat Lack. John Klingberg now leads rookie defensmen with 11 goals, as he stole away the other point from the playoff team for the one with very weak hope.
Still, a hard won point, after giving up a lead, should not be discounted. A straight up ROW and two points would have been preferable against a team playing it's third in four nights, but you take what you can. Now the four gamer commences.
Good thing they have a good road record...
- Benn, Ritchie, Eaves and Goligoski all had 4 shots, and Seguin led his team with 6, while Spezza had 5. The Stars top player played like top players tonight. ( all the shots here, as well as the other regular stats )
- Nick Bonino was going off on a change on the game winner, but a goal and an assist, with 3 of 4 shots forcing saves, and a block to go with 3 takeaways was a pretty complete scorecard for Bonino. He ended up 9 for 17 in the circle in 18:37 of ice time
- Radim the Dream. He gets that 30th goal after leading ( he tied with Seguin for game leading, as both had 6 shots on 8 attempts ) his team in chances all night, and he also added an assist and 2 shots. Honorable mention to Ronalds Kenins for 4 shots ( 5 attempts, and the wide shot might have been his best chance ) and 3 hits in 11:00 TOI.
- Bo had 9 of 17 draws, and got to talk to Scott Oake. He also had more ice than Hank tonight, with 18:06 to the captain's 17:24.
OK fans, take a breath. They gained a point that could have been lost, against a team they have problems with for some reason. The Blues, Predators, Hawks and Jets await. Those should all be fun games to watch. The playoffs have already begun...Blues up first.