Tuesday, March 9, 2010

HIGHLIGHTS - Canucks 6 - Avalanche 4 - F

The Vancouver Canucks have had a habit in recent years of not showing up to start big games. Whenever you might expect the team to come out flying, they seem to often come out flat. Look no further than the big matchup against the Blackhawks last week, where they were down 5-1 by the end of the first period.

Canucks fans were getting that similar feeling this game, as they trailed 3-0 after one period. A defensive breakdown on the first goal by Matt Duchene, following by a pair of goals Roberto Luongo would like to have back (to put it mildly) and the Canucks dug themselves a considerable hole.

Apparently however, that is right where the Canucks wanted the Avs.

Down 3-0 and then 4-1, the Canucks rallied and came back to win 6-4.

Mikael Samuelsson got them on the comeback trail with a hat-trick in the second period, with all three goals coming near the goal, either putting home a rebound, or a tap in. The comeback appeared to be stalled after Samuelsson's first goal when Mason Raymond made a horrendous giveaway right as the last man back. Raymond tried to throw the puck up the middle but wound up on newly acquired Avalanche forward Peter Mueller who made no mistake in beating Roberto Luongo.

After that goal however, Luongo shut the door. He struggled early and would likely wish to have the second and third goals back, but made important saves at important times off of Kyle Cumiskey, Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, and Peter Mueller to give the Canucks a chance.

The Canucks tied the game at 4 on a Christian Ehrhoff shot that was screened perfectly and tipped by Alexandre Burrows. Then, with only a couple of minutes remaining in the game, Jannik Hansen drove to the net and the puck pinballed off Colorado goaltender Craig Anderson, off Hansen, back off Anderson and into the gaping net for a 5-4 lead.

A Post-game interview with Jannik Hansen garnered the appropriate response - "Lucky" - as Hansen records his second straight game winning goal after spending much of the season in the press box. Hansen is definitely making the most of his chances late in the season.

Coach Alain Vigneault should probably receive some recognition for sticking with Roberto Luongo rather than putting Raycroft. Leaving Luongo in likely set the tone for the team and sent a message that putting your feet up and keeping it close with Raycroft giving Luongo the rest of the night off would not be acceptable. Vigneault's message that a 3-0 deficit did not mean 'game over' was obviously well received.

No rest for the weary though as the Canucks take on the Coyotes in Phoenix tomorrow night.

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