After A Canuck team loaded with youth handled the Bruins in Boston, the Canucks came into the final game of this six gamer just wanting to get on the ice. The latest "Snowmageddon" ( and this is a big one, scroll down in story. It looks to cover entire country ! ) complicated things, but they decided to get this one in, rather than have a game against the Pens in Pittsburgh to try and shoehorn into the season somehow if this one was postponed.
Ryan Miller got the start, but no other changes were made to the lineup that took care of business in Boston ( I just don't get this. Didn't they win ? How can anyone despise the Twins ? ). Why would you ? While you consider that as you wait for caffeine to kick adenosine's ass and get the dopamine flowing, perhaps you're pondering why the TV Gods would schedule this one so early ? Meh. We get to watch a hockey matinee and still have a full day on a Saturday instead. Good food for thought. This is the 28th road game this season for the Canucks. That is the most in the team history by this time in January.
This was a 10/10 period for the Canucks. They took the talk of poor starts and not having your daily routine and drove it into the boards, as they skated the Penguins into the ice all period. The shots were 10-9, but that was the only thing that was close about the period.
The Penguins are good again with Sullivan at the helm, so they spent some time in the Canuck end, of course. But the skating of the team was prevalent in that end as well. All three defensive pairings had solid shifts, and when they did allow a shot on net, Miller was there.
The first goal was a perfect example of the Canuck speed, as Jannik Hansen blew by Olli Maata and beat M.A Fleury over the pad,under the blocker for a 1-0 lead under 30 seconds in. The Canucks rode that momentum, well, as all the lines has solid shifts ( I'd give a slight edge to the 3rd line over the 4th for their play on the forecheck. The speed was on display on a variety of great chances by Virtanen, Vrbata, and an early Bo Horvat rush that almost made it 2-0. He was very good. So was Alex Burrows. He has made that third line go, and also had a shot off of a speed rush that forced a big save.
The game settled into a back and forth, with the Canucks having an edge in play, until a late penalty on Daniel Sedin for hooking ( I missed the guy's number, but a crosscheck on McCann at the same time went uncalled ), on a play where they really should have gotten the puck out at the line threatened to derail it...until this below.
Seriously Mr Hansen, just dance Sid Crosby at the line and then do that. Speed, a perfect sauce, and smartly staying at the net to bury the rebound off the post on Dorsett's shot. What a goal.
Numbas - kids edition ESPN stats
The youth served well in the first. Etem had a shot, miss, block and hit in his 5:41 TOI. Bo had a shot and a takeaway, while going 4 for 6 on draws. Zalewski was on for 3:50, and had a shot and 2 hits. Of course, the work of Jannik Hansen was paramount, as far as the stat sheet goes. 2 goals on 3 shots, in only 5:03 of very productive TOI.
Some might say a marquee team like the Penguins is going to get the calls. Some might say that. I am not going to, but will point out that there were three potential calls that could have been made against the home team that were not, and after each one, there was some slight stick foul ( except the Burrows hook. That was legit. He was digging for Malkin's treasure there...) That Burrows penalty led to a 5 on 3 that the Penguins handled very efficiently. They scored in 8 seconds on it , as a faceoff win by Bo Horvat was just not cleared high enough by Luca Sbisa. The Pens got it to Malkin at the high left circle, and he beat Miller short side glove for the goal that made it 2-1.
The Canucks were definitely back farther on their heels in the second, compared to the first. The Penguins road their penalty windfall to an edge in play in the middle stanza. It was sort of like the first, but the other way, but with one difference. Miller was solid in the first when he had to be. The Penguins really needed Marc Andre Fleury in the second. He was not scheduled to get this game going in, until the Snowmageddon canceled a game with the Caps on Sunday. If there was a question about him not being into the game in the first, there was none in the second, as he robbed Daniel Sedin and Jake Virtanen on a tip off a smart Hutton shot. The save against Hansen late was his best, as he took a perfect Daniel Sedin flip and almost got his hat trick goal. That one would have crushed the Penguins going into the break.
Stats after forty
Consider the team stats after 2 periods. The Pens had the edge in hits 29-22, but it was 19-18 on the shot clock for the visitors, even with the power plays 4-0 to that point. The Canucks led in the faceoff circle 16-13, powered by Horvat being 8 for 13 after two. Hutton was joined by blocking machine Tanev and new guy Etem with 2 each, giving the Canucks an 11-4 edge in that stat. Torts protege Sullivan was sure to point that out to his guys, I am sure.
Yeah, Evgeni Malkin is pretty good. But when you have an own goal and a long seeing eye wrister on a muffin shot go in during a four goal period, sometimes you just say "shit happens" and move on. The Canucks did lose their composure after the own goal, but credit the home team. They rode the luck and ( perhaps, no excuses for the worst period the team had ) got the win. But Come ON !! Give the Canucks a little credit too, they never gave up until the final whistle.
The 5th power play against should have been accompanied by Dun Dun DUN. There was nothing wrong with this one, but another penalty to kill is never good, as after a while, it becomes a drain on the players killing, and the way you are able to roll the lines. This time it was Sbisa, on a trip in his own end on Hagelin. The penalty kill was excellent once again, as the best chance was after Hansen stole the puck at the line, on a Crosby pass, and fed Horvat for the tip. That save was matched by Miller as the game returned to five on five, robbing Hornqvist on a two on one with Crosby.
It was looking good when Bo Horvat took a pass and walked to the middle, used Letang as a screen, and ripped a hard wrister from the high slot to make it 3-1. That goal, and the momentum the team had gained from the PK, gave one hope for the 4-1-1 road trip the bobbleheads talked about all game.
Hockey is a funny game though. I struggle to explain Malkin's second goal though. I mean played him pretty well, and forced him behind the net on the rush. His pass to the front was a muffin to nobody, and Edler and Vey were both there. Edler deferred ( rightly, Vey's stick was right there ) to the centre, and he promptly swept the puck into his own net. EDIT: It seems I was wrong. I simply did not see it, and I thought he missed Vey's stick.. Or maybe The Eagle just took the hit, again... But if it is in The Provies...) The Canucks responded well initially, with a good Horvat line shift, before Malkin showed everyone that he can score special goals too. This one came off of a lousy change, with several guys not wanting to touch the puck. Kessel got it to Malkin, and he made a shot to the top corner that it looked like Miller had covered. The big Russian sow the one-two millimetres that weren't, and put it post and in for the 3-3 goal. ( Let's just say that hat trick should come with an explanation in the record books. It has a certain aroma, to be sure. )
I take it back. The composure was lost on the fourth goal. Though that would be mine. There is no way that one should have went in. Yes, Fehr was there for the screen, and so was Edler, but that was a turnaround wrister muffin from just inside the blue line. Ughhh.
With just 7 minutes left, the team did rally a bit after that. The Penguins were defending desperately, but able to keep pucks away, and it was a Miller robbery on Hagelin that was the big save in that time period. It was not until the Canucks were forcing the play late,and McCann was hauled down by Demoulin ( by the way there kid. Some might think it gauche to whine to the refs when you got all the calls. Your stick was in his legs. In a game where you lead the penalties 5-1, just go to the box and hush up ) for a late power play for the Canucks.
It was unable to muster much though, and it looked all over after a Crosby empty netter made it 5-3. But a late shot from Zaleswki that was tipped the found Hansen alone in front, and he had an empty net for his hat trick goal to make it 5-4. They even had a chance off of the mad scramle late, with an Edler shot to the net from the boards just being missed by Vrbata as time ran out.
A 4-1-1 road trip would have been nice, but admit it. On a trip without the captain, going through New York, the Capitals, Bruins and Penguins, did you really even expect 3-2-1. The Canucks played excellently on this trip. After a matchup versus the Predators to come Tuesday, the Canucks have 15 of their next 19 at home.
They also get an eight day break after that, to heal up and answer the lineup changes that will have to come. Hank and Sutter are both going to rejoin the roster. That will be cause for some a move or two. In the meantime, the kids are aright, even if this one stings. It took a third that, perhaps with a road team running down a bit at the end, the home team took advantage of some breaks and squeaked out a win in a game they easily could have lost. You still have to admire, for the most part, the Canuck effort today.
The Canucks won the shot clock 32-30. They won the faceoffs 27-21, and while they were outhit 35- 26 , they led the takeaways 8-4, and forced the Penguins into 9 giveaways to 5 themselves. Hansen finished with 3 goals, and 7 shots in 16:25 TOI ( 3:11 on the kill ). Bo Horvat had a goal, 4 shots, 1 hit, 2 takeaways and 1 giveaway, while winning 13 of 21 draws against mainly Fehr, Malkin and Crosby ( 3 pretty good centres on the draw ). Mike Zalewski had an assist, a shot, a penalty, and 3 hits in 10:23 TOI. And Ben Hutton had an assist, 3 shots, 2 bloxks, 2 hits, and a takeaway, wile going +3 in 20:12 TOI. Emerson Etem had 2 of 4 shots on net, 3 blocks and a hit in a very noticeable 14:44. There were a lot of good performances in this game.
So, we chalk it up to "shit happens", or kvetch about it for a while ? Who knows. We have eight days, can we do both ?