Saturday, February 04, 2006

Canucks climb back to the top of the Northwest

It was close to the perfect road game. The Vancouver Canucks won their third game in a row on Friday night and reclaimed first place in the Northwest division with a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames.

On a night where the Flames honoured many that wore the Flames colours in the last quarter century, the Canucks put aside sentimentality and played some in your face hockey to take the victory and spoil the reunion.

The game got off to a fast pace as Jarome Iginila took charge for the Flames leading the attack into the Vancouver end, however he found that Ryan Kesler would become a bit of an irritant on the night, as Kesler and Iginla bumped and blocked for parts of the first period. Iginla still managed to get a few shots directed at Alex Auld but for the first 19 minutes of the 1st period Auld kept the Iginla and the Flames at bay.

Kesler proved to finally irritate Iginla to distraction midway through the first as the two got into a lengthy scrap at the Canucks blue line. Kesler who is still new to the whole NHL thing, held his own with the Flames captain and seemed to give the Canucks a bit of a boost with his feistiness. Both he and Iginla served five minutes for fighting, which only served to put Iginla into the mood to score. As the seconds wound down in the first, Iginla put a goal behind Auld to take a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.

However, it would be the only Flames goal on the night. For the rest of the game the Canucks took the play to the Flames, with the Sedins and Anson Carter finding the room to make more of those highlight reel plays that we've seen more and more of this year. Carter scored on loose puck in front of the Calgary net, then Ryan Kesler who is quickly becoming one of the hardest working Canucks took a set up pass from Daniel Sedin and scored with 46 seconds to go in the second.

The third saw Daniel Sedin set up his brother Henrik with a perfect pass, which was blasted into the top of the net for the insurance marker on the night. Calgary had more than enough chances to come back in the game, Alexander Auld faced 29 shots, saving 28 of them for his 23rd win of the season. Mikka Kiprusoff only had 22 shots directed his way, but three of them ended up as goals for the Canuck win.

The Canucks hope to add another win to their mini streak on Saturday when the play the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton. For the Flames it's becoming a worrisome trend of late, letting the other team get into the play and walk away with the win, after two rather poor efforts against St. Louis and Columbus, the Flames can at least say that they participated more in the Friday night match, but a loss is still a loss and now they chase the Canucks for first place in the Northwest.

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