Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A mournful Moen in Vancouver

It was the one that got away and with it may go the playoff hopes for the Vancouver Canucks.

Travis Moen scored just minutes into overtime to lead the Anaheim Ducks to 3-2 victory over Vancouver and a 3 game to 1 clutch on the series , which is heading back to Anaheim on Thursday night.

It will be a bitter one for Vancouver to swallow, they had one of the best team periods in the first and jumped out to a quick and what they thought was a secure 2-0 lead, paced by Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison.

But in one of the great comebacks of these playoffs so far, the Ducks continued to battle along the boards, slowly taking the play away from Vancouver and knocking them onto their heels in the third.

Vancouver couldn’t hold on in the last twenty minutes, far too often the Ducks would beat them to the puck, control the play from behind the net and fire shot after shot at Roberto Luongo. The defence played far too tentatively in the third, unable to clear the zone giving the Ducks new life one goal at a time.

As the period progressed you could see the game starting to slip away from the Canucks, fans no doubt wishing that the clock would move faster, a race that would not be won by Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Duck goaltender JS Giguere gave up those two early goals, but as his team gained confidence on the way to their eventual victory it would be Giguere they would thank. He refused to let the Canucks get what may have been the pivotal third goal, knocking down the Canuck attack at key points of the game.

In the end it was a broken play at the Canuck blue line led to the tying goal, Sami Salo had his stick knocked out of his hands while pressing at the blue line. As he streaked back to his position all he could do would be to watch Teemu Selanne finally get a reward for his hard work this series.

Teemu Selanne, a battered and bloodied Duck throughout this series, once again took high sticks to the face and faced punishment near the net during the game. Yet when the clock was winding down in the third, it was his swat at the puck that sent the game into overtime.

The goal set the stage for a short lived fourth period and a celebration on the Duck’s bench as Moen pounced on a rebound and fired it past a devastated Luongo.

While it’s a cliché to never to say never when it comes to playoff hockey, a loss like this can get into a teams head. The Canucks were the better team in the first period, but when the Ducks made their modifications by the second period the took control of the game if not the scoring. Assisted by another amazing round of goaltending by JS Giguere, it proved to be only a matter of time that the Ducks would take the win.

Many will say that much the same could be said for a series that now has the Canucks in a very deep hole. A few of the Canuck faithful will remain just that on Thursday, pointing to a similar situation against the Stars which the Canucks pulled out.

But for most, tomorrow morning will prove to be a period of mourning for an opportunity that definitely was allowed to get away.

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