Canucks qualify for playoffs with 2-1 shootout win over Red Wings… but don't pop any Champagne corks
Vancouver Canuck Alex Burrows trips over Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and loses control of the puck on a breakaway during their National Hockey League game on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at Rogers Arena.
Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS
VANCOUVER — The good news for Max Lapierre is that the Vancouver Canucks are going back to the National Hockey League playoffs. The bad news for him is there are no shootouts in the Stanley Cup tournament.
For the second time in four weeks, Lapierre won the Canucks a game with a shootout goal, and Saturday's 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings clinched a playoff spot for Vancouver for the 10th time in 12 seasons.
It also represented a huge point lost for a Detroit team in jeopardy of seeing its incredible run of playoff appearances end after 21 years.
“I just tried the same move as last time and got a little lucky,” Lapierre said of his backhand deke that beat goalie Jimmy Howard. “We're just happy we clinched for a playoff spot. It's a tough thing to do in this league. Sometimes, you think it's simple, but it's never simple to get in the playoffs. Every night it's a battle in this league. We're happy with ourselves tonight.”
But they shouldn't be too happy.
The Red Wings, ninth in the Western Conference, outshot the Canucks 17-2 in the third period and would have won in regulation time were it not for another spectacular night by Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider.
Schneider essentially called out the team, including himself, after a 5-1 loss Thursday against the Dallas Stars, demanding it raise its urgency with the playoffs only two weeks away.
He backed it up Saturday by making 33 saves, plus shootout stops against Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner.
“Even though the shots weren't too flattering, I would take tonight's game and the way we played 100 times out of 100 compared to the game against Dallas when we outshot them," Schneider said. "I thought we worked really hard against a desperate team and came away successful.”
Canuck winger Daniel Sedin said: “I'm proud of the guys in here. It wasn't about individual stats; everyone plays for the team. We battled through so many things this year – injuries and other things. If fans want us to play a good-looking game with lots of scoring chances at both ends, we can give them that. But we're not going to win many games playing that way.”
The Canucks, who led in all five games on their just-completed road trip but won only twice, took another 1-0 lead at 12:15 on the first period when Alex Edler blasted in on a power play. Derek Roy won an offensive-zone faceoff and one pass later Edler one-timed a point shot through Alex Burrows' goalmouth screen.
The Canucks were outshot 9-4 in the period. Schneider made terrific saves against Johan Franzen and Brendan Smith, but still the Canucks could not escape the period with the lead.
With 21 seconds remaining, Cory Emmerton redirected Brunner's shot-pass between Schneider's pads after Canuck Andrew Ebbett, low in the Canucks' zone, chipped the puck up the boards to his vacant wing. Brunner was waiting.
The Canucks, whose power play at least appears to be peaking for the playoffs, nearly made it 2-1 halfway through the second period, but Sedin wedged the puck just wide from a sharp angle on a rebound from Ryan Kesler's shot.
Jason Garrison also blistered a one-timer inches wide and Burrows, on a pretty give-and-go with Sedin, was stopped by Howard on a quick breakaway. The score remained 1-1 heading into the final period. It was all Detroit all the way through the third.
Schneider's 32nd and final save in regulation time was against Franzen during a 2-on-1 rush in the last minute.
In the race for the Northwest Division title – and the third playoff seeding in the Western Conference – the Canucks lead the Minnesota Wild by six points with three games to go. The Wild, which has four games left, is home to the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
“Clearly, we haven't been as dominant as we have in past regular seasons,” Schneider said. “But we've all seen it's not who plays the best during the year, it's who's hot going into the playoffs. I don't know our record the last 15 or 20 games (12-4-1 since March 18), but I know it has been good. I think we know where we need to get to to be ready for the playoffs.”
ICE CHIPS – Already missing defencemen Kevin Bieksa (lower body) and Chris Tanev (ankle), Canuck blueliner Keith Ballard left the game in the third period. Minor-league callup Derek Joslin is ready to play Monday when the Canucks face the Chicago Blackhawks.
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