It’s been a month since the Canucks lost a game in regulation but, going into Wednesday night, it had also been 3 weeks since the Canucks won a game in regulation at home. The Canucks had gone to overtime in 4 straight home games, seemingly intent on giving their home fans more than their money’s worth.
Not in this game. Against the Avalanche, the Canucks stiffed their home crowd by only giving a 60-minute effort. Even worse, one of those minutes came after the Canucks extended their lead to two with an empty net goal, meaning Canucks fans only got to watch 59 minutes of meaningful hockey. Really, we should complain.
I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 1 Avalanche
In reality, this game was far more entertaining than the stifling atmosphere of Monday’s match-up versus the Phoenix Coyotes. As proof, Alex Edler had more shots in just 10 seconds than the entire Canucks team had in the third period against Phoenix.
Like versus Phoenix, David Booth opened the scoring. Unlike versus Phoenix, he didn’t wait until halfway through the second period, scoring just 13 seconds into the game instead. It was a shocking goal, not because of how quickly it was scored, but because Mason Raymond actually cut into the middle of the ice with the puck, where Booth picked it up and backhanded it past J.S. Giguere. Raymond normally stays on the outside more than Ponyboy.
This was Booth’s third straight game with a goal and fourth straight with a point. He’s on streak almost as hot as, well, himself.
Byron “Byronic Hero” Bitz had himself a good old-fashioned rematch with Avalanche enforcer Cody McLeod. His second fight of the season was also his second fight against McLeod and, like the Omnidroid, Bitz adapted and easily defeated his opponent.
If anyone was concerned about the frenemy status of Shane O’Brien and Alex Burrows after their fracas in Colorado and Vancouver’s last meeting, Dan Murphy eased those worries with a brief post-commercial feature in the first period, assuring everyone that O’Brien and Burrows remained buddies. I immediately went to work taping O’Brien’s eyes back into all my pictures of the pair of them. Fortunately, I kept them when I cut them out. Foresight, people. You have to think ahead.
During the first intermission, we caught another glimpse into the twisted mind of Evil Raymond. During his interview with Joey Kenward, he was asked about Colorado’s injury troubles. Raymond responded, “Any time they got less guys, I guess you want to run them and…not run them, pardon me, but run a guy to make their life as miserable as you can.” It was like half way through he realized that he was actually advocating going after their injured guys who were no longer in the game and knew he was revealing too much.
Like the most recent X-Men movie, Roberto Luongo was first-class in this game. He robbed Kevin Porter with 3 seconds left in the first period and stoned a wide open Paul Stastny like he was Stephen to keep the Canucks up by one in the final two minutes, but what I found most impressive were his many glove saves. Last season, Luongo seemed to have issues catching the puck, so that every glove save turned into a punch save instead, but those issues seem to be completely gone of late.
Luongo seemed unbeatable in this game, but a confusion in coverage between Sami Salo and Alex Edler led to a game-tying goal by Erik Johnson. Edler shadowed Johnson as he rushed into the zone, but peeled off to cover the front of the net. Salo was covering David Jones, but instead of leaving Jones to Edler when he went to the front of the net, he went to tie up his stick, leaving Johnson all alone and Jones double-teamed.
The play-by-play highlight of the game came after a scrum started off by Gabriel Landeskog running into Roberto Luongo. Referee Paul Devorski pointed at Landeskog and said “One #$%&ing penalty” clear as day on the Sportsnet telecast. “One penalty, says Paul Devorski,” was John Garrett’s diplomatic response.
The top line has struggled recently, but put in one of their best efforts of the season in this game with, unfortunately, nothing to show for it. Daniel and Burrows had 5 shots each, while Henrik had 3 shots of his own. It seemed like they just couldn’t get any bounces. On the Canucks’ lone powerplay, Daniel had a wide open net after an Edler slap shot bounced off the boards, but the puck kept bouncing right over Daniel’s stick. That puck had secretly been moulded from flubber instead of rubber.
Gabriel Landeskog had a great game for the Avalanche, but he almost didn’t survive the game. Halfway through the third period, he was nailed by a Sami Salo slap shot and covered the puck up with his body in desperation so he could get a whistle and make his way to the bench. The camera showed him with his mouth agape as if in shock: How can someone so fragile shoot so hard?
With Chris Higgins back in the lineup, Cody Hodgson started the game on the fourth line while Maxim Lapierre centred a checking line with Higgins and Jannik Hansen. Lapierre took the assignment to heart, throwing a game-high 7 bodychecks. He had more checks than the Phoenix Coyotes.
Explanation of the previous joke: checks and Czechs sound the same. The Coyotes have several players from the Czech Republic. It was a pun.
By the third period, however, Hodgson was moved up to play with Higgins and Hansen in order to create more offense. It paid off, as a fortunate bounce off the linesman on an Avalanche clearing attempt allowed Hodgson to set up Hansen for a one-timer to re-gain the lead. It was the best set-up since “A horse walks into a bar.”
It’s clear that Chris Higgins is a fast-moving zombie, as he didn’t skip a beat in his first game back after “recovering” from a recent zombie bite. While he had just over 12 minutes in ice time, he showed good speed, particularly on Burrows’ empty net goal, as he poked the puck past Ryan O’Reilly, then skated alongside Burrows towards the empty net, ensuring that none of the Avalanche back-checkers could get to the puck.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]