Yesterday, we began our countdown of the 10 best games of the Canucks regular season. The bottom half of the list fondly remembered top-notch tilts with the Flames, Blackhawks, Stars, Lightning, and Blue Jackets, five games that yielded some classic and/or hilarious moments, and some great entertainment overall. Today, we round out the top five, examining the best of the Canucks’ season series with a perennial powerhouse, a surprise blowout, and a nail-biter in Southern California.
As 2010 drew to a close, the Flyers and the Canucks were on top of their respective conferences and running neck-and-neck for the NHL lead. As a result, this match was initially billed as a potential Stanley Cup preview. Most people thought both teams would put on a clinic. Instead, only Vancouver did. The Canucks controlled this game for the full sixty minutes, peppering the Flyers net with 49 shots, and scoring six times on some filthy, filthy plays, including a beautiful bit of patience from Alex Burrows, Jeff Tambellini’s last-ever NHL goal (potentially), and Ryan Kesler’s classic skee-ball goal.
The Canucks may not have won every game in a rout like they did in the season series with Dallas, but one could argue that the season series with Detroit was still better. Every game was close, there were lead changes galore, the tempo was ridiculously high, and the two teams played such similar systems that, at times, the game was like watching synchronized swimming. Even Detroit’s goals were gorgeous. Take, for instance, the opening goal in this game, scored by Dan Cleary. If you can’t get behind Brian Rafalski’s outlet pass, it’s your loss. That’s quality. There are only two things keeping this game from being higher on the list: one, the overall beauty was slightly diminished when Pavel Datstyuk broke his hand, and two, the Canucks lost in overtime.
They won this one, however. Like number four on our list, this game was simply a hockey’s lover’s dream. The two teams played hockey like it had been choreographed by Jerome Robbins. There were four lead changes. The game had huge goals, such as Manny Malhotra’s lovely shorthanded breakaway marker. It had big hits, such as Andrew Alberts levelling Pavel Datsyuk. It also featured one of the Canucks’ best third periods of the season: after allowing the Red Wings to break a 3-3 tie only two minutes in, they took the game over, tying the game on a Jannik Hansen goal, then taking the lead for good with two well-executed powerplays.
The last matchup of the Canucks’ third-best season series saw Vancouver and Chicago play their most even, most entertaining game yet. Blowouts and shutouts are one thing, but a crisp, uptempo nail-biter will win out every time. This game also featured some of Christian Ehrhoff’s best moments: first, his opening goal, on a slapshot at the blueline, which led to Ryan Kesler burning him on a high five. Second, the original appearance of the flail snail, Christian Ehrhoff’s rage-induced alter ego. Finally, this game had maybe the clutchest of clutch goals the Canucks scored this season, when the Sedins combined for the game-winner on a beautiful give-and-go that bounced over Marty Turco’s shoulder.
I’m proud to say I attended the best game of the year, a glorious battle between the Canucks and the Sharks that took place during that successful five-game Southern California road trip. It was intense. After the Canucks jumped out to a two-goal lead to end the first, the Sharks came out hard in the second, needing only 2:04 to tie the game. The Canucks would retake the lead only three minutes later, and they would hold it, too, until everything went crazy in the game’s final two minutes. First, Torrey Mitchell tied the game on an end-to-end rush. Then, the Canucks took the lead less than thirty seconds later on a Daniel Sedin powerplay goal. Then, with twenty seconds to go, the Sharks would tie the game on a powerplay of their own, sending it to overtime, and eventually, the shootout. It was superbly played hockey throughout, but you can’t beat an ending like that.
::: 10 – 6 :::
::: 5 – 1 :::Tags: Blogs are for lists, Canucks, featured, offseason blues, spotlight