Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Return to First Place – 3-Feb-06

Canucks 3 at Flames 1

The Vancouver Canucks traveled to Calgary to take on the Flames on Friday night. With first place in the North West Division on the line the Nucks kept pace with the Flames early and then put the Flames away with a solid second and third period efforts. The two points left Vancouver and Calgary tied with 67 points. Vancouver is awarded first place by virtue of one additional win.

It is hard to decide if the game was an all Kesler affair or an all Sedins affair with both contingents having excellent nights on the ice. Kesler served notice to the Canucks bench that this was a game they were not going to lose by taking on a Jarome Iginla in what had to be one of the longest fights in recent memory. Kesler held his own and was seen later with the ice bag on his knuckles as a result of a shot to Iggy’s visor early in the bout. Iggy was un-phased by the proceedings and returned from five minutes of penalty box rest to score the opening goal late in the first period.

The second period started out with Alex Burrows making a sprint in on Kiprusoff and having his feet punched out from under him resulting in award of a penalty shot. Burrows crashed awkwardly into the port post. He still had a slightly dazed look in his eye as he deked right and put Kiprusoff down but was unable to control the puck and lift it over Kippers left pad at the starboard post. The puck slid harmlessly to the end boards and Calgary seems to be lifted by the event. As the game wore on the workman like effort of the Canucks began to play off. With Leopold off for hooking, Carter (20) scored a power play goal from Henrik and his other brother Daniel. Then with 46 seconds left in the Second period Ryan Kesler (6) potted the game winner from Daniel and Salo. With the late goal the Nucks carried the momentum mostly on the strong play of the Kesler line and some key moment saves by Auld. Henrik (14) scored the insurance marker with seven minutes and change left in the game. This time brothers Daniel and Carter added the assists. The goal was a rare unload of a blistering slot slap shot by Henrik. I’ve seen both twins shoot the puck like this and wonder why they don’t do it more often.

At the final whistle the Brotha line had seven points with Carter and Henrik a goal and an assist each and Daniel three assists in the contest. The second most effective unit for the Nucks was Kesler’s line followed by Linden’s line. While Crawford did a lot of mixing and matching throughout the night, the WCE trio failed to show up again. Bertuzzi was the largest liability taking a lazy Interference call shortly after the Sedin insurance goal.

Dust Ups

The game featured one other fight between Donovan and Bouck in the first period. This one was more wrestling than boxing with Bouck scoring the take down.

Kesler’s fight for the second time in three games was one short of the hat trick as he paired both with a goals. Ryan keeps battling as he is he proves himself increasingly more valuable to the team. Kesler was full credit in being awarded the first star for the night. Keep at it Ryan, the assist will come.

Daniel was the games second star and I guess the deciding factor could have been his three points as opposed to the Brotha’s only getting two each. Any one of the three could have been named a game star. Carter’s 20th goal marks his 5th campaign with 20 or more goals. Of note is this is his first trip to 20 since he played with the Oilers back in 02-03 season. Then he was a -11. With the twins he is a +9. Those same Oilers are on the dance card tomorrow night in Edmonton.

Vancouver’s 67 points and first place positioning gives them third seed in the west. If the playoffs were to start tomorrow the Nucks would get home ice advantage and draw (I think) Edmonton.

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