Monday, April 26, 2010

Vancouver Canucks Wins In The Nick Of Time

NHL fans roared when the Vancouver Canucks couldn't muster much of an attack for 40 minutes, they once again found a way to hang in like a boxer playing rope-a-dope before delivering a knockout punch against the Los Angeles Kings and clinch their Western Conference quarter-final. When Canucks winger Mikael Samuelsson broke his stick on a snapper from the slot, the puck bounced to Daniel Sedin who snapped a wrister to the short side at 17:57 of the third to snap a 2-2 draw and Alex Burrows then added an empty-netter for an amazing 4-2 victory to claim the series in 6 games.

Game and series over. The Canucks would add an empty-netter, but Sedin's goal was the difference in Vancouver's 4-2 victory in Game 6 against the Kings on Sunday night at Staples Center. In the end it was what good teams do. They don't panic and they seize the moment. Nobody did that better than Roberto Luongo. Playing big in one of the biggest games of his career, the Canucks goaltender lived up to all the hope and hype he generated since landing on Vancouver soil. There was stopping a Jarret Stoll forehand and thwarting an Alexander Frolov backhander off a rebound with the score tied 2-2. There were others, early and often, like a sprawling glove save off Ryan Smyth in the second period.

Trailing 2-1 after two periods, the Canucks clawed back into the game when a pinching Kevin Bieksa took a Daniel Sedin feed from behind the net and snapped a shot between Jonathan Quick's pads at 1:57. It was evident early that this wouldn't be another seven-goal spree or six-goal outburst by the Canucks at they were outshot 16-5 in the opening period. Not only was Luongo peppered early as the Kings held a 6-1 shot advantage before the game was four minutes old, the Canucks responded with their initial power-play opportunity by mustering zero shots and needed seven minutes to generate their second shot.

"We know we can be bad for 40 minutes ... and things are going to work out," Daniel Sedin said. This is why the Canucks were able to dent what had been a Kings staple during the regular season. They had not given up a lead after two periods, but they did so twice in the playoffs.

"There's an easy answer: Two of the best players in the league did it,"The Sedin line was tremendous. They won the series. They won the game and each of those games you're talking about made the difference. That's what the best players are supposed to do." Kings Coach Terry Murray said.
That includes Samuelsson. If he keeps this up, maybe he should become an honorary Sedin after joining their line in the third period of Game 4. Just call them the Sedin triplets.

With the Kings' Brown off the ice serving his second penalty of the game, the goal came quickly off the ensuing face-off in the L.A zone after Kings' defenceman Sean O'Donnell couldn't clear the puck. Edler kept it in at the blue line and blasted a shot that Bernier deflected past a screened Quick. The Kings regained the lead after Daniel Sedin was sent off on a tripping call with just over six minutes to go in the second. The home squad used the man advantage to jumpstart their slumbering power play, off another goal thanks in part to a Canucks' skater.
After Smyth whiffed on a one-timer attempt in the slot, Vancouver couldn't clear the puck and a Doughty shot deflected off of Alex Burrows and past Luongo for a 2-1 Kings' lead. The third period quickly saw the game even itself up once more, as well as another first-time playoff goal. Just 1:57 into the final frame, Bieksa pinched into the Kings' zone and one-timed a Daniel Sedin pass between the legs of Quick for the 2-2 goal. 
A penalty to the goal-scorer set up another series of big stops by Luongo, including arguably the Kings' last best chance for Frolov, who was left all alone in front but was denied by a right leg kick save.

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