Canucks complete perfect road trip with 3-2 win over Avalanche
Despite several roster challenges, Schneider and crew find a way to sweep three-game road trip
The Vancouver Canucks celebrate a goal against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.
Photograph by: Michael Martin, NHLI via Getty Images
DENVER, Colo. - It has been quite the Spring Break for the Vancouver Canucks and their tour guide Cory Schneider.
Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver. A good time was had by all.
Okay, there was snow on the ground in Denver, but that didn’t matter after the Canucks rolled over the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Sunday night at the Pepsi Center and left the Mile High City on something of a Rocky Mountain High.
Three road games in four nights and the Canucks won them all, thanks in no small part to Schneider’s rock solid goaltending.
He was told last summer that he was going to be the No. 1 guy and now it seems he finally is. Sunday night’s game was Schneider’s fourth straight start and he’s won them all.
“Schneids was okay tonight again,” winger Mason Raymond deadpanned before adding: “It’s phenomenal to see him playing the way he is, seeing the puck the way he is. It’s huge for our club.”
There’s no reason to think coach Alain Vigneault won’t go with him again on Tuesday night, when the Canucks play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“For some time I have been looking for somebody to get on a roll,” Vigneault said after the game. Asked if Schneider will start again on Tuesday, Vigneault smiled and said: “We’ll see.”
The three-game road trip sweep was accomplished under trying circumstances. The Canucks have several forwards out with injuries and were missing another one on Sunday night as Dale Weise suffered a shoulder injury late in Saturday’s 1-0 win in Los Angeles. That meant for the second time in three games defenceman Keith Ballard had to play left wing. Vancouver was also missing suspended defenceman Alex Edler.
Vigneault, who deserves props for the coaching job he has done during this stretch, was proud of the way his team gutted out another win.
“You go in our dressing room right now and you just count the number of ice bags,” Vigneault said. “It’s just phenomenal the way the guys in this stretch paid the price. They did everything they are supposed to do to give themselves a chance to win.
“They competed real hard, they blocked shots, they took hits to make plays and that’s why we have tons of ice bags right now. We have got a day to recover and we are going to fly home and get ready for the next game.”
Schneider allowed just three goals in the three games on this trip and faced 28 shots Sunday night. Colorado’s second goal, scored late in the third period just as a 5-on-3 power play was expiring, bounced in off the stick of Canuck winger Jannik Hansen.
Schneider acknowledged he is feeling as good as he has all season about his game.
“I would say so this season,” he said. “But I didn’t know how I felt there in the first part of the first period when they only had thee shots and one of them was in the net.
“They got a couple of shots later there and some good chances in the second and I sort of settled back into a good rhythm. But again, I think it doesn’t happen without your teammates working hard in front of you, blocking a lot of shots and keeping their speed guys outside.”
After the Canucks generated only 13 shots in Saturday’s win over the Kings, Vigneault juggled a couple of his forward lines to find more offensive balance. Chris Higgins moved up to play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, while Alex Burrows dropped down to skate on a makeshift line with Ballard and Andrew Ebbett.
That trio combined to produce what turned out to be the winning goal. Burrows scored it on a nifty backhand at 14:29 of the second period to give the Canucks a 3-1 lead.
“I like to think I was lucky a little bit,” Burrows said. “I think it went cross bar and in. We’ll take those and hopefully there’s more of them coming.”
Raymond snapped a 1-1 tie at 3:13 of the second when he took a pass from Jordan Schroeder, raced down the ice and put a shot from the left circle through the pads of Colorado goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The goal was Raymond’s ninth of the season, tying him for the team lead with Daniel Sedin.
“You win three in a row, that’s a good trip,” Raymond said. “You can never complain about that so we are obviously happy heading back home.”
The teams had traded goals in the first period. Defenceman Jason Garrison put Vancouver up with a rare power-play goal at 5:18 of the first, but the Avs got that one back four minutes later when Jamie McGinn finished off a two-on-one rush with P.A. Parenteau.
Parenteau scored that late goal for the Avs, who felt the puck had gone in before the first penalty on their five-on-three power play had expired.
The win improved the Canucks’ record to 17-9-6 and moved them two points up on the Minnesota Wild in the Northwest Division standings. The Wild have two games in hand.
“It was a test and it was three pretty scrappy teams,” Ballard said of the trip. “They are not prototypical games for what people would probably think our team is. We took each game as it came, we didn’t try to turn it into a run and gun. We played whatever style of game it was and we did well at it. We beat three teams that are fighting with everything they’ve got.”
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