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Vancouver Canucks

Canucks Blast Tired Avs With 5-2 Win

Vancouver CanucksIt took a full period for the rust of a six-day rest to be filed off of the Vancouver Canucks Friday night, but when it was gone, what was left was gleaming. The Colorado Avalanche, playing their third game in four nights, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead while the Canucks found their legs again, but couldn’t contain the Christian Ehrhoff train that was barrelling down the tunnel toward them. Ehrhoff scored two goals and almost registered the first hat trick for a Canucks defenseman since 1991 but he rang a late third-period shot off of the post. He did add a wonderful power play assist, though, to round out his evening, propelling the Canucks to a 5-2 victory.

The Canucks’ first shift actually looked like the team wouldn’t be suffering from the long layoff (what is it with the silly scheduling this year?), with the Henrik Sedin line coming out with lots of jump. But the energy tailed off quickly and the Canucks took two early penalties. The Avalanche power play was going through a horrible stretch, but as has been the case so many times, the Canucks were the perfect jumper cables, allowing goals on both power plays (one by David Jones and the other by youngster Matt Duchene). The Canuck penalty kill looked weak and passive, allowing the Avs to do whatever they wanted.

The second period was a different story, though, and this is where the Ehrhoff show began. On the Canucks’ first power play of the night, he fired a slap shot through a Bernier screen to beat goalie Craig Anderson top corner, for his sixth goal of the year. While the Canucks didn’t score again in the period, the play was definitely more even and the Canucks were slowly wearing the Avs down.

Then came the third period, and the floodgates burst. Mason Raymond beat an Av defenseman to the puck in the corner and came out, firing a beautiful pass to Ehrhoff as he was coming through the slot. Ehrhoff buried it for his seventh goal. All tied up and with the momentum going the Canucks way, Jannik Hansen almost made it 3-2 by tapping in an Alex Burrows rebound, but he whiffed and the puck trickled along the goal line before being covered up. Minutes later, Hansen stormed into the Avs’ zone, waited patiently and then passed through two Avs to a streaking Burrows who couldn’t control the puck right away, but gained control of it long enough to backhand a pass to Henrik Sedin who was charging the net. That was Henrik’s 13th goal of the season, further showcasing the confidence that he’s developed over the games since his brother was injured.

Three minutes later, on a power play caused by Anderson misplaying the puck and Milan Hejduk crushing Alex Burrows into the boards illegally, Ehrhoff showed his magic again. At the point, he faked a slap shot three times, drawing John-Michael Liles out to him, before finally firing a slap pass to Stever Bernier who was stationed at the side of the net. Beautiful tip-in, and it’s 4-2 Canucks, with Bernier’s 7th. To add insult to injury, Matthieu Schneider passed to Mikael Samuelsson and streaked toward the net. Samuelsson softly shot it at the net, and it bounced off the defenseman who was shadowing Schneider and through Anderson’s pads for Samuelsson’s 9th. Thus ended a truly horrible night for the Avalanche, who have now blown 2-goal leads in back-to-back games and have fallen to 1-4-1 in their last six games.

A few notes:

1) Kyle Wellwood earned his second assist of the year, winning the face-off back to Alex Edler, who passed to Ehrhoff for his first goal. Not exactly what we have in mind when we say that Wellwood needs to contribute more to the offense, but a point is a point. Incidentally, Wellwood was 75% in the face-off circle, which was very valuable. If he continues his improvement from earlier in the season, hopefully the points will come.

2) Roberto Luongo looked solid after the first period, but he was fighting the puck a little before then. The second goal was directly caused by a rebound that he normally corrals. But he made some stellar stops in the second that kept the Canucks behind by only one goal. Also a couple of lucky bounces, but I think those were caused by good positioning.

3) Mason Raymond continues his run of stellar play. Speed kills in this league, and Ehrhoff’s second goal was directly caused by Raymond’s speed. He’s also seeing the ice a lot better lately. The knock on him last year was that he would get the puck, try to use his speed to get around the defenseman and then go around the net, before firing a shot into the goalie’s crest. Lately, he’s been making some beautiful plays to get the puck to other people, as well as getting himself open for good goals. I’m really liking this kid.

4) Jannik Hansen had his third good game in a row since coming back from injury. While he didn’t score on a couple of great set-ups, the puck was kind of bouncing a bit both times. On the other hand, the patience he showed on Henrik’s goal really demonstrates that he’s beginning to come into his own. I hope he continues to develop.

5) After giving up the two quick power play goals, the penalty kill slammed the door after that, becoming more like its normal self, finishing 2-4. The Canucks’ power play was 2-3, continuing its stellar performance.

Next game is Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. Hopefully, the Canucks can carry this momentum into that game and take it to the Hawks too.

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One comment for “Canucks Blast Tired Avs With 5-2 Win”

  1. As you saw, when I did my assessment of Sharks trades Ehrhoff was the biggest loss for us.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | November 21, 2009, 4:48 pm

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