Thursday, March 15, 2007

Every point counts in the Northwest

Vancouver dodged an embarrassing bullet Thursday night, grabbing back a win when it seemed they were more than likely to have thrown one away.

For most of the Blues/Canucks game, the play was all Vancouver, the early shot totals heavily in Vancouver’s favour, the flow of the play their domain and by the third period a healthy 2-0 lead seemed to signify that they had things under control.

On occasion Roberto Luongo was called upon to make a timely save, but for the most part it appeared that the Canucks were on their way to victory and to keep their spot atop the Northwest Division.

Then came word of another Minnesota victory, two points that put the Wild in first in the Northwest, all be it for only thirty minutes or so as thing would eventually turn out, but not for a lack of trying by St. Louis to help out Jacques Lemaire’s squad as best they could.

For whatever reason, the Canucks chose to coast through the third and allowed a gritty St. Louis team to claw their way back through the period, sending the game into overtime.

Thursday’s game was quite reminiscent of Tuesday’s game against Minnesota, when the Canucks not only allowed the Wild to build up their momentum, but eventually win the game, a costly missed opportunity for the Canucks.

As the overtime period got underway, Vancouver started play on the power play after Eric Brewer went after Matt Cooke towards the end of the third period. Cooke had bumped into St. Louis goaltender Curtis Sanford behind the net, for which Brewer was quick to temper to express his indignation at the affront. The only problem for Brewer was that there was no penalty call on Cooke on the play, and by driving Cooke into the glass and then coming up swinging, it would be Brewer who would be serving the time.

Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin continued his winning ways in OT by picking up the winning goal less than two minutes into the extra frame. Securing a 3-2 victory for Vancouver and allowing them to remain one point ahead of Minnesota and still in position to hold home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs next month.

While a win is good and no doubt welcome, Alain Vigneault needs to find a way to have his team put away those teams they should not be having any problems defeating. By allowing St. Louis back into the game, the Canucks showed a breakdown in the game plan and in discipline.

Mistakes that they won’t be able to fix quite as easily once the playoffs get under way.

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