Quality power play shots key 2-1 Vancouver win over Wild

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Dec 17, 2006
The Hockey News

Quality power play shots key 2-1 Vancouver win over Wild

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Dec 17, 2006

And that starts with rapid puck movement to generate better chances instead of simply blasting away on the power play.

"The last five or six games we've moved the puck a lot better," Ohlund said Saturday after scoring Vancouver's second power-play goal to beat the division rival Minnesota Wild 2-1.

"It seems like we're getting those open shots a lot more than earlier in the year even though we shot the puck a lot. Earlier in the year, it was from non-scoring areas."

Ohlund scored the game-winner 10 seconds after Wild defenceman Martin Skoula was penalized for tripping Trevor Linden.

The Canucks whipped the puck around the offensive zone until Henrik Sedin found Ohlund creeping in from the blue line and the big Swede beat rookie goalie Niklas Backstrom from the top of the face-off circle.

It was Ohlund's third goal in as many games to give him five for the season.

"You go through stretches where you shoot the puck and it seems like it's not working then you hit a streak," he said after the Canucks won their third in a row for the second time this season.

Vancouver has scored eight power-play goals in the last five games, four of them victories.

"The power play has been a big part of our game," said coach Alain Vigneault. "It's gotten goals for us at critical times."

Linden, with his first goal in 31 games, provided a 1-0 Vancouver lead on the Canucks' third shot of the game while Pavol Demitra gave the Wild a 1-1 tie entering the final period.

But Vancouver also needed another stellar performance from goalie Roberto Luongo, who had a 28-save effort, and a bit of puck luck.

The Wild appeared to have taken a 2-1 lead in the second period when Luongo stopped Wes Walz and Pascal Dupuis fired the rebound toward the net.

The puck hit Henrik Sedin and rebounded off Luongo's mask as the goalie fell back into the net. Officials concluded after a lengthy video review that the puck did not cross the goal line.

"That's a secret between me and the puck and I'm not going to tell anybody," Luongo said of the play.

Backstrom, whose club outshot the Canucks 29-18, said video officials could not see the puck on the replay.

"It's a tough break for us, obviously, especially being out on the road tonight. We worked hard. We deserved better tonight. Pascal thought for sure it was in the net."

While he made spectacular saves on Nick Schultz on a breakaway, Walz on another break-in and came across his crease to foil Todd White, Luongo apologized to his team-mates for allowing Demitra's 60-footer.

"It was a bit of a knuckler," Luongo said. "It kind of dropped on me at the last second.

"Unfortunately those are not the kind of goals you want to give up but stuff like that's going to happen some times and the most important thing is the way you bounce back afterward."

The Canucks, who meet the Wild in St. Paul on Tuesday to start a three-game pre-Christmas road trip, improved to 17-15-1 and are tied for second in the tightly-packed Northwest Division with Calgary, one point behind Edmonton.

The Wild, who lost their seventh straight road game, are a point behind Vancouver at 16-14-2.

Linden, who hadn't scored since the season opener, said his recent move to the power play has added a right-hand shot.

"Daniel and Henrik (Sedin) are so good, if they can find me, (opponents) have to respect that," Lindedn said. "If they take me away, they have (Ohlund) coming in on that back side a little bit there and he made a great shot on that goal."

But the win was also about Luongo.

"He kept us in the game the first two periods, there's no question about it," Linden said. "We didn't play very well at all in the first two periods. He was huge and this is the type of game you win from a great performance."

NOTES: Taylor Pyatt, who injured his shoulder Dec. 4, returned to the Vancouver lineup ... defenceman Sami Salo could be back next week ... the Wild have defeated the Canucks 2-1 and 5-2 in St. Paul ... Wild star Marian Gaborik, receiving treatment in Vancouver since early November for a groin injury suffered Oct. 20, has left for Los Angeles for more treatment from a deep tissue therapist.

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Quality power play shots key 2-1 Vancouver win over Wild