It was the second game of a back-to-back and the team’s 9th game in the last 16 days, and did it ever show. The Canucks needed a cheapish shootout goal to escape Tampa Bay with two points, despite the fact that the Lightning thoroughly dominated proceedings on Tuesday. The Canucks were pummeled at even-strength, and surrendered 25! total chances to last season’s Eastern Conference bridesmaid.
Luckily for Vancouver, they had Cory Schneider in net and he had a terrific game despite the four goals allowed. In fact the play of Schneider, contrasted with the less than stellar performance of Dwayne Roloson for Tampa, allowed the Canucks to snatch two points from the jaws of defeat.
A more thorough recap, the statistical three stars and scoring chance data after the jump.
– The game got off to a slow-start with only two scoring chances in the first ten minutes of the first period. The Canucks opened the scoring on a greasy Alex Edler point shot off of an offensive zone start, that deflected off Roloson and into the net. To underscore how big an impact goaltending played in this game, look no further than this: by the end of the first period the chance count was 6-2 in favour of Tampa Bay, however, the score was 2-0 in favour of Vancouver. Ouch.
– The Canucks were excellent on the penalty kill last night, allowing only three scoring chances in six minutes of short-handed ice-time. Tampa, however, was even better – allowing only two chances in a similar six minutes of short-handed ice-time. The difference, the Canucks generated a scoring chance for while short-handed and that chance for was Jannik Hansen’s odd short-handed goal. St. Louis complained as if he’d been slashed on the play, but from what I can tell Hansen merely sweeps the blade of St. Louis’ stick with his own to win the puck. Looks like a run of the mill puck battle to me.
– The Lightning finally got one back when Stamkos got his stick on a somewhat wild goal-mouth feed from Ryan Malone and deflected the puck past Cory Schneider. It was, rather insanely, Stamkos’ 29th goal of the season. 29! If you want to imagine where the Lightning would be without the guy, think Columbus, but warmer.
– Mike Duco is a vampire. He also had a reasonably solid game in limited minutes, albeit a high-event one. The blood sucker recorded his first NHL point on Malhotra’s second period goal that restored the Canucks two goal lead, and we’re very happy for him over at Canucks Army! I have to believe that if Duco can cut down the chances against, (he averaged one per minute…) he could become a fourth line fixture for this club.
– Keith Ballard and Andrew Alberts were once again the best Canucks d-men in chance percentage. Throughout this trip, the team’s bottom pairing has been significantly better than Hamhuis and Bieksa by the chance data. Also, at some point in the game Ballard mounted Steve Downie for an unintentionally hilarious photo. The result is straight out of Animal Planet:
That’s a Bloodhound Gang position, fellahs.
– The last minute of the second period was one of the weirdest in recent memory. Each team scored a goal on a scoring chance, and there were five total chances both ways in the last 45 seconds of the period. So forty-five seconds accounted for 11% of the chances in the game!
– Hodgson made a great play on Kesler’s last-second goal in the second period. He won a battle along the boards and feathered a beauty pass to Mason Raymond. Mason Raymond should’ve used his classic spin move, but instead went for a feeble type of back-hand that I’m sure had Canucks fans irrationally screaming "perimeter player" at their televisions. Though Raymond’s take was stopped, Rollie the goalie couldn’t corral the puck, and Kesler ultimately came charging in to pot the gimme and restore the team’s two goal lead heading into the third period. They would need it.
– In the third, Tampa came out and got the job done in the third period, recording 9 chances for and tying the game up on a goal that came off of Ryan Malone’s active skate. While it wasn’t a distinct kicking motion, it’s pretty clear that Malone changed the direction of his skate so as to deflect the puck into the net. As a result, some Canucks fans got themselves worked up on twitter, "remember LA, wtf?" etc.
The thing to remember, is that the call in LA a few seasons ago was wrong, and now the rule has been fixed. Just because the Canucks ended up on the unlucky side of a similar call twice, doesn’t make Tampa’s tying goal a steaming load of B.S. That was a good goal, and it was the result of some good work by Tampa to get a point out of a game they controlled throughout.
– Overtime was pretty boring with the most notable thing being when Eric Brewer tackled Kesler. It was the easiest call a ref has made in a Canucks game this season, but for fun I tweeted "I’m tired of Kesler diving." I was kidding, hoping it would anger some Canucks fans. Instead I got a bunch of @ mentions saying "amen" and "couldn’t agree more." Come on people, don’t go Gallagher on me, defend your damn team!
– Despite the results, the Canucks have been soundly beaten at even-strength twice on this road trip. It’s pretty clear that the team is exhausted, but they’re going to have to put it together for Thursday’s game against St. Louis. The Blues have soundly beaten the Canucks twice this season, and excel at five-on-five. If the Canucks allowed 25 total chances against Hitchcock’s squad (like they did tonight) the result will be supremely ugly.
– Finally lots of discussion about the spin-o-rama goal that Raymond scored to win the game. Personally, I think spin-o-ramas in the shootout are weak. It’s clear that the shooter doesn’t maintain forward progress on the move, and I don’t think it gives goalies a reasonable chance of making the stop. Regardless, the shootout itself is stupid, so perhaps a by-the-book illegal spin-move is par for the course of what we should expect to see in an over-hyped skills competition.
Statistical Three Stars
- Dan Hamhuis – excellent on the PK (no chances allowed in 3 and a hlaf minutes), only a -.92 chance differential when adjusted.
- Manny Malhotra – Played reasonably well in tough minutes, 3 SOG.
- Mason Raymond – Shootout winner, even chance differential, even possession numbers. One of the few Canucks who kept their head above water.
Here are your advanced stat tables courtesy the powerful Vic Ferrari and Timeonice.com.
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