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Vancouver power-play a joke but it's no laughing matter for Canucks

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Vancouver power-play a joke but it's no laughing matter for Canucks

The Canadian Press
By:

The Canucks know they need to solve the riddle of a power play that has gone missing if they hope to even their NHL Western Conference semifinal series against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday 10:30 p.m. ET.

"The power play is winning games for Anaheim right now," Daniel Sedin said after the Canuck practice. "We have to get that working. It's going to be the difference in this series."

The Canucks were 1-for-8 with the man advantage in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Ducks, which gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Against the Ducks, Vancouver is 1-for-20 on the power play. In 10 playoff games Vancouver is 4-for-58, the lowest of any of the eight remaining teams.

"We're going through a tough time," said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault.

While the Canuck power play has struggled, Anaheim has enjoyed success with the man advantage.

The Ducks were 2-for-5 on the power play Sunday and are 4-for-21 in the series against Vancouver.

With a defence anchored by former Norris Trophy winners Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, Anaheim also leads the playoffs in penalty killing at 93.6 per cent.

As good as the Ducks penalty kill is, coach Randy Carlyle said his team must be more disciplined and not give Vancouver the chances it has.

"There are definitely areas of improvement for our group," he said.

Corey Perry, who scored Sunday's winning goal, said Anaheim needs a fast start Tuesday.

"We want to take control of the game," said Perry. "We haven't had a good start all series. We have to be ready."

Vancouver's regular season power play followed the same roller-coaster ride as the team. After a slow, it found its groove after Christmas.

Daniel Sedin led Vancouver with 16 power-play goals during the season but has managed just two even-strength goals in the playoffs and none against the Ducks.

"I think when you don't have success you are forcing things, you don't make the right decisions," he said. "You have to get back to basics.

"Quick puck movement is the key on the power play. They are doing a good job of that."

Vigneault said instead of battling in front of the net, his players are trying to be too fancy.

"You don't see a lot of tic-tac-toe plays in the playoffs," said Vigneault. "You see guys getting pucks to the net, going to the tough areas, taking a couple of whacks or a cross-check to put in the first or second or third rebound.

"Our players who are playing the power play need to do that."

So far in the playoffs the Canucks first power-play unit has had Swedish twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin playing with Taylor Pyatt. The second unit has featured captain Markus Naslund, centre Brendan Morrison and Bryan Smolinski.

Vigneault hinted changes may be coming.

"We're at a point where do we stick with patience and hope guys do what they did . . . or do we change it up and tinker with it a little bit?" he said. "There's not 300 options here."

Throw out the 5-1 loss in the opening game of the series and the Canucks believe they are matching the Ducks 5-on-5. They just need to improve on the special teams.

"We still have a chance to win this," said Morrison. "We have the personnel.

"If we play 5-on-5, I like our chances. Special teams have been the difference so far in this series. Five-on-5 we have played extremely well."

The list of injured Canucks continues to grow. Grinder Jeff Cowan did not practice Monday.

While the Canucks try to fuel a power play that has run out of gas, the Ducks admit they are lucky to be ahead in the series.

The Ducks came out flat Sunday and were outshot 13-2 in the first period.

"I don't think we've played our best in the series yet," said Pronger. "We need to play a lot better in Game 4. It's a pivotal game for us.

"We can get a stranglehold on the series. It's going to take a better effort than we had in Game 3."

The Canucks hesitated to call Tuesday's game a must-win, but realize it's one they can barely afford to lose.

"When you put yourself in a situation where you are down 3-1 it's pretty tough," said defenceman Brent Sopel. "It's a key game for us."

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Vancouver power-play a joke but it's no laughing matter for Canucks