The last time the Canucks saw the Dallas Stars was seven days ago, on the night Henrik Sedin passed Markus Naslund to become the Canucks’ all-time leading scorer. The Stars ruined everything that night, however, storming back from down 3-1 to ensure that Henrik’s big moment came in a big, embarrassing loss.
Safe to say the Canucks didn’t forget. They had revenge on the mind, and they weren’t satisfied simply to stick Dallas with a loss. They were staging a full on do-over. Thus, they gave the Stars an early goal to ensure the victory would come from behind. Then, after they were safely in the lead, they gave Dallas a late one to ensure the game finished 4-3, just as last time (but this time around, in their favour). This game was an elaborate revenge plot. I watched this game.
Canucks 4 – 3 Stars
Alain Vigneault and his coaching staff made waves prior to the game, juggling the defence pairings for a number of reasons. While all the moves raised eyebrows, the one that nobody disagreed with was reuniting the HamJuice (or hot ham-water) pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa. Then the opening shift of this game happened, and the Stars jumped out to an early lead thanks to a fire drill in the Canucks’ end. Not just any fire drill, either — an elementary school fire drill. Jamie Benn beat Cory Schneider while the Canucks were lining up, single-file, and waiting for their teacher do to a head count.
The Canucks would get it back eleven minutes later on the powerplay. After some quality puck movement led to a brilliant chance in front for Daniel Sedin, only to have him hit the crossbar, Alex Edler threw the puck on goal, hoping for a deflection. He got one from Burrows, who tipped the puck like it just served him his breakfast. It must not have been spectacular service though, because that wasn’t much of a tip. I’d say 10%. Either Burrows is stingy, or the puck was slow on the coffee refills.
Zack Kassian started this game on a line with Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler. His first shift resulted in the Stars’ first goal, and he only got one more shift before he was back on the fourth line. While he was probably the scrambliest of the three forwards on Benn’s tally – he had a chance to get the puck out and a chance to knock Benn off of it — 87 seconds (or just under “three Harlem shakes) of second-line time before a demotion is going to upset the “AV doesn’t know how to handle young players” crowd. I don’t mind it. Kesler and Burrows had to work their way up from the fourth line too.
Aaron Rome had an eventful game, as his play directly led to the first Stars goal and the last Vancouver goal. But frankly, my favourite Rome shift was the one where he fired a puck into the Canucks bench. If you slow the play down enough, you can catch Rome affixing a mash note to the puck before aiming right for Alain Vigneault’s breast pocket. (s/t to Crux.) Instead, it nearly hit Maxim Lapierre in the face. Luckily, it missed. Shakespeare once wrote that love’s keen arrows make “wounds invisible”, but that one would have left a mark.
I thought David Booth had a nice game tonight in just 12:09 of ice-time. He was playing physical, with 5 hits, and he could have had two or three goals. Unfortunately, he’s still adjusting to shooting something that isn’t running away, which is why he kept shooting to where he thought the net was going to be.
Kevin Bieksa may be struggling defensively, but he’s on fire at the other end, with 5 goals in 8 games. These days, he’s less “Juice” and more “Flaming Moe”. The reinstatement of his partnership with Hamhuis may not have paid off immediately, but the two teamed up for the Canucks’ second goal, with Hamhuis hitting a streaking Bieksa with a pass in the neutral zone, and Flaming Moe burning around Philip Larsen before putting a little extra Krusty’s Non-Narkotik Kough Syrup into his backhand shot for the score.
Zack Kassian might want to send a thank-you card to Antoine Roussel, who acted as an agent of redemption for the Canucks’ tough guy in this game. First, Roussel fought him in the second period, which was enough to earn Kassian a promotion back to Ryan Kesler’s line in the third. Then, Kassian’s first shift back on line two saw a Vancouver goal, again thanks to Roussel, who took a shot to the knee from Jason Garrison, which left him hobbled and out of the shooting lane when Garrison fired a second shot into the back of the Stars’ goal. If Nicholas Sparks had written this game, Kassian would have gone to the Stars’ locker room to thank Roussel, only to spot the Stars’ forward in a team photo from 1956 and realize he was a benevolent ghost all along.
The best part of the scoring play on Henrik Sedin’s game-winning goal: when Henrik fakes shot and Alex Goligoski immediately reaches out to stop the pass. Yeah, you’re not fooling anyone, Henrik. Thankfully, even though Goligoski guessed right, Henrik is still able to thread the pass through to Burrows. But then Burrows surprises everyone, giving the puck right back, just as he did on Henrik’s first of the year the other night, and a surprised Henrik taps it home like Gene Kelly on roller skates.
Another great part of that play: in the group hug after the goal, the camera picks up Bieksa telling Burrows, “Wow. Oh wow. Where’d you steal that from?”
You had to feel for Aaron Rome on that play, as the puck jumped over his stick to start the Canucks’ two-on-one. Or did it jump over his stick? This may have been another romantic overture to Alain Vigneault. If the Canucks hadn’t scored here, he’d have been outside Vigneault’s window tonight with a boombox.
Speaking of Vigneault, he appears to be giving Jordan Schroeder a legitimate chance to earn his spot as a third-line centre. Schroeder had 5 defensive zone faceoffs tonight. He won four of them, three against the Stars’ top line. That’s almost enough to get Vigneault outside of your window with a boombox.
Now I’m imagining Aaron Rome coming to the Canucks’ hotel with a boombox and blaring the Peter Gabriel outside Vigneault’s window, only to eventually look over and realize Vigneault’s standing twenty feet across the parking lot, boomboxing Schroeder. Heart-breaking.
I recognize winning 4-3 was the plan all along, but Ryan Kesler’s giveaway to allow Brendan Morrow the Stars’ third goal was too early in the third. It was also brutal. As Kesler attempted to skate the puck out from the front of the goal, he simply left it behind. Even Kevin McAllister’s mom thought that was negligent.
Derek Roy took a hooking penalty at 17:59 of the third period, meaning all the Canucks had to do to nurse home a 4-3 win was avoid giving up the puck on the powerplay. When told the plan was to pass it around for two minutes and not shoot, Henrik shouted, “It must be my birthday!” Then Daniel, remembering he was born on the same day, shouted, “Then it must be my birthday too!”
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. […]