December 31 2013 12:17AM
After a close and competitive game in Calgary just over 24 hours ago, the Canucks should have been a tired team on a back-to-back after a night of travel, but the Roxy Flu appeared to be in full effect as it was the Canucks who dominated the well-rested Flyers. Then Steve Mason happened; he stopped 41 of 44 shots through regulation and overtime, and all three Canucks shooters in the shootout and effectively stole a game for Philadelphia.
Yes, Steve Mason stole a game for an NHL hockey team.
The 1st period started poorly, as Ryan Kesler took a tripping penalty on
Rex Nicklas Grossmann just 43 seconds into the game. Fortunately, Vancouver's vaunted #POWERKILL was able to hold the Flyers at bay, and from that point forward the Canucks carried the majority of play and out-shot the Flyers 8-4. The best Canucks chance of the period came off the stick of Chris Higgins, as he was denied by a sprawling Steve Mason as he cut across the net and tried to shovel a backhand home.
A particularly scary moment came when Kevin Bieksa was struck in the face with a Flyers clearing attempt. The puck appeared to cut him just below his left eye and on the nose. Bieksa would leave for repairs, but return a short time later. Philadelphia scored with about four and a half minutes remaining in the 1st period, as Michael Raffl made a nice play in the corner and Mark Streit flipped a backhand over Eddie Lack to take a 1-0 lead to the dressing room.
By contrast, Vancouver was dominant in the second period. The 3rd line started early, with David Booth sliding a wrap-around off the post. Then just a few short minutes later, the unthinkable happened:
Somewhat surprisingly, that's Tom Sestito's 3rd goal of the season, tying him with David Clarkson, Martin Havlat, Danny Cleary, and a host of talented offensive defensemen like Duncan Keith, Mike Green and Andrei Markov. That's also more goals than John Scott has in his entire NHL career. Tom Sestito also has a higher career shooting percentage than Steven Stamkos, which should tell you all you need to know about how informative shooting percentages are about talent.
The Canucks didn't sag from there, as they continued to pressure the Flyers and create chances. The Sedins combined for a brilliant shorthanded rush, and Mike Santorelli drew a penalty on a scoring chance of his own not long after. Eventually, Vancouver broke through on some wizardous Sedinery:
I was in the middle of yelling "SHOOT THE PUCK" at my TV, but I should know by now to never doubt the Sedins. Who says Jannik Hansen can't play with the twins anyways? Unfortunately the lead didn't last long as Claude Giroux scored another goal late in a period for the Flyers, evening the score at 2-2 with just 1:08 left in the 2nd on a goal that Eddie Lack may have wanted back.
The 3rd period was much the same, as the Canucks continued to out-attempt the Flyers by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. Daniel, Henrik, Ryan Kesler and David Booth all had glorious chances, but Steve Mason just kept standing on his head. He was only beaten on an innocent-looking play when (f)Luke Schenn directed a puck into his own net:
From there, it looked like the Canucks had the game in hand but the Flyers once again would mount some pressure at the end of the period and would once again beat Eddie Lack. After a scrambled face-off, the puck was tapped in front to Brayden Schenn, who simply had to tap the puck in to the gaping net. The goal came against Ryan Kesler's line, as did all the others on the night. It wasn't a banner night for the Canucks second unit.
Vancouver continued generating chances in overtime as John Tortorella rolled a 3-forward formation for the latter half of OT and 4 forwards for the final minute in an attempt to finish the game early. Ryan Kesler had two chances from the high slot, but shot the puck straight at Steve Mason on both occasions. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The Canucks couldn't score in OT and it was the same old story in the shootout. Shootouts are just the best.
Vincent Lecavalier scored on a nice move to beat the Canucks 1-0 in the shootout, making the final score 4-3 for the visitors.
That's a pretty dominating performance right there. Vancouver out-Fenwick'd the Flyers 55-34 overall, and 36-25 at 5-on-5. In score close situations? 29-18 Vancouver. The Sedins had a really good night as Henrik and Hansen carried a 12-5 Corsi line, but perhaps the best line for the majority of the game was the 3rd line of David Booth, Brad Richardson and Zack Kassian. Richardson and Kassian topped 20 Corsi events each, and Booth carried a 70.4% Corsi For%. The play of the 3rd line of late is really encouraging, and great news for the Canucks if the trio is for real.
On the other side of the spectrum, Claude Giroux, Michael Raffl and Jakub Voracek absolutely kicked Ryan Kesler and co.'s teeth in. Here's the damage:
Ouch. Chris Tanev was also at 40% Corsi For%, but every other Canuck was in the black.
You win some, you lose some. The Canucks just went 3-1-1 in 5 games when they scored 2 or fewer goals in regulation and OT, so they were due for some kind of regression soon. Tonight it was in goal, but that probably wasn't unexpected given that Eddie Lack was starting for the second time in two nights.
The next game is on Wednesday as Vancouver plays host to the Steve Stamkos-less but still high-flying Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts have been very good this year, so it should be a fun game. We'll see you then.