Detroit (W) @ Vancouver (OTL) Final Score: 4-3 (Shootout)
After yet another emotionally draining game against Chicago on tuesday, the Canucks had to deal with the top team in the Western Conference last night. The Canucks played a mediocre game, but the stellar tending of Luongo managed to drag them into overtime. They couldn’t get a puck past Howard in the shootout, finally falling to the wings after 65 minutes of hockey.
Detroit was hot right off the draw and viciously pressured the Canucks. Dan Cleary opened the scoring by getting Hamhuis to bite on a fake shot just 5 minutes into the first period, but the goal felt inevitable. It took a Zetterberg penalty to bring the Canucks into the game with a strong powerplay, it’s just too bad it happened ten minutes into the first period. Even though Kesler got the tying goal nearing the end of the 1st, it was entirely Booth’s hard work that made it happen.
The second period was a complete wash for the Canucks. By the end of the period, Detroit had outshot Vancouver 30-11. After Hudler crushed a snapshot top shelf against Luongo, LaPierre decided to drop the gloves against Abdelkader. Aside from an impressive open ice hip-check from Rome, this was the highlight of the Period. The Canucks were lucky to make it out on a 2-1 deficit and spent the entire period just trying to claw their way into the third on an even keel. Luongo made a ton of clutch saves to keep them in the game throughout the 2nd.
Even though Vigneault probably had a few rough words for the guys between periods, the 3rd period started just like the 1st. Once again, it took half a period for the Canucks to get their feet moving. Burrows managed to generate a turn-over in the offensive zone on Drew Miller, and ripped the puck past Howard. But Miller redeemed himself just two minutes later when Rome tried to pass the puck back to Luongo instead of clearing the zone, resulting in a messy go-ahead goal for Detroit. At this point, it began to look like all hope was lost. Luckily for the Canucks, a bounce from a Raymond shot off Brad Stuart beat Howard to tie the game and send it to overtime.
The game couldn’t be solved in OT, so it went to shootout. Vigneault elected to shoot first, choosing Edler then Raymond who were both stonewalled by Howard. Datsyuk and Hudler turned Luongo into mincemeat, but that really isn’t a surprise.
It’s never enjoyable to watch your team lose in shootout, but without Luongo the Canucks would have dropped the game before the end of the 1st period. This is going to be an incredible series “if” (although most likely “when”) Vancouver sees Detroit in the playoffs. The only consolation is that Chicago looked just as exhausted after playing us, getting demolished by the Oilers 8-4 (Specifically by Sam Gagner who registered 8 points on the night).
Game notes: Howard has now only been scored on twice in the shootout all season, having stopped 16 attempts. He is undefeated in shootout this season; The Canucks are now 24-3 when Kesler scores in a game; The Canucks were outshot 43-25 by Detroit; The Canucks have only received 1 PP in the past 2 games; Lapierre leads the Canucks with 6 fights this season.