Canucks put it all together, dethrone the Kings
Intensity and physicality shows up for Vancouver in 5-2 victory
If you’ve been sitting around waiting for the Vancouver Canucks to play invested, all-in hockey, you’ve been waiting a long time.
Turns out, all it took was the defending Stanley Cup champs to roll into town, a Ryan Kesler injury and Keith Ballard getting turfed out of the lineup.
Of course, getting Jonathan Quick on a night he’s doing his best impression of an average goalie sure helped.
So did giving the Sedins something they covet, a matchup against the other team’s top line. On Saturday, that meant Anze Kopitar, who stomped the Canucks in last spring’s playoffs.
This time, it was the Sedins doing the stomping. And the hacking, the shoving, and the dancing.
The Sedins were all over Kopitar, hitting him, poking him, sticking him and looking more like Kesler than the goal-producing surgeons who generally aren’t the aggressors who willingly get their hands dirty.
“It was good wasn’t it?” said a smiling Burrows. “I knew they had a little jump in their step in warm-up.”
Henrik was fired up in the game, and in the locker-room after the Canucks 5-2 win. He set up two goals and added what looked to be performance art as he danced around Drew Doughty and Kopitar in one remarkable third period shift. He didn’t score, but managed to make the Kings two best players seem helpless.
“It was our best game in a long time,” Henrik said. “For us, to be matched up against the top line is something that we have always seen as a great challenge and fun. A lot of times, it’s a lot easier to create chances against those guys. If you’re playing against a defensive line all they want to do is get the puck, chip it out, and change. It’s tough to get chances.”
What about the Sedins giving Kopitar, and Doughty too, the pest treatment?
“That’s the way we have to play,” Henrik said. “There’s a fine line between us doing that and us doing that too much. But, like you say, it brings us into the game, both me and Daniel and other guys too.”
It was a crooked-looking Vancouver lineup. Mason Raymond at centre, Jordan Schroeder was on the fourth line, and Andrew Alberts was in, while Keith Ballard was out, stapled back to his familiar seat in the doghouse.
“I felt the other guys gave us a better chance to win,” said head coach Alain Vigneault, giving Ballard no love. Nothing new there.
Raymond at centre actually outplayed Mike Richards for the first two periods. He scored one goal with a laser of a wrist shot, on a play he helped set up in the defensive zone.
“He was really comfortable coming down low and helping those D-men,” Burrows said. “When you look at his goal, it looks like a nice play through the neutral zone, but it all started down low, on a little reverse by him when he’s helping out a defenceman for a breakout. They get the puck to David Booth and Raymond beats his check up ice and gets separation.
“Those little things make a big difference.”
Raymond also set up Jannik Hansen on the goal that blew the game open, giving the Canucks a 4-2 lead 17:52 into the second.
After 40 minutes, Richards was a minus-3 and Raymond had two points. Go figure.
In the third, Richards and Carter pushed back, but when they did, Cory Schenider made consecutive saves, his two best of the night.
The Canucks got to play the bully role for once. Kevin Bieksa, back from a groin injury, took hit Kopitar awkwardly into the boards, leaving the Kings’ big star a little dazed.
Later, Alberts, who looked significantly better playing alongside Chris Tanev, went missile, propelling himself at Kyle Clifford. He took a roughing penalty for it, but that was borderline. It’s an element from the Canucks which has long been lacking.
The Canucks got on the board first when Henrik embarrassed Rob Scuderi, who looked ridiculous waving his stick at the Canucks captain. With all the time in the world, Henrik shuffled the puck back and forth for several seconds before finding Burrows at the side of the net. Burrows set up Dan Hamhuis with a cross-crease pass and Hamhuis flicked the puck into the net.
The first ended with the Canucks up 1-0. The Kings had some push in the second and Justin Williams tied the game on the power play they got from the Alberts hit. But 4:20 later Raymond got the lead back.
That lasted less than three minutes, on a goal the Canucks just gave away. Behind the net, Schneider was playing the puck, but when he tried to pass the puck to Alberts, the Canucks lost control Nolan scored on a wrap with Schneider wildly diving in an attempt to get back into the crease.
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