Stop ONE: It’s always sunny of Philadelphia or so they say. The atmosphere in Philadelphia has changed drastically since the loss of former captain Chris Pronger from the lineup who has not played since suffering a concussion in 2011. Things have been tough going in Philadelphia the last two seasons. This season has hardly been a sunny one for the Flyers just 8 games into their season. From Laviolette being fired 3 games into the new season and just 1 victory, it has not been easy going. Struggling teams are the teams that most take for granted and expect an easy win BUT the struggling teams also tend to put good teams to the test.
A road trip can be a great building block and a good bonding experience for a team that is adapting to new systems.The Canucks match up with the Flyers came following back to back losses at home in Vancouver. Both teams needed to put better games on the ice.
Both teams had struggled offensively heading into this game and were looking to change that fact. The Flyers struck first to grab a 1-0 lead BUT just 10 seconds later and fortuitous bounce in front of the Flyers net to Kesler, this game was tied up 1-1.
A tough early goal in the second period as the result of a hand pass [uncalled! but alas I digress!] put the Flyers up 2-1.
Once again the Canucks put themselves on the comeback trail heading into the third period…a pattern that has become WAY too common this season! Cue the #Torts strategy that WON him the Calgary game: a split of the Sedin twins & creating what I call a #SwedeAmerican line [Henrik, Kesler & Higgins]. Just over 7 minutes into the final frame, a beauty of a pass from Henrik to a wide open Higgins saw this game once again all tied up!
The game looked as though it would need overtime UNTIL a certain Ryan Kesler scored the go ahead goal with 2:25 remaining in the game. In the final minutes there was a Flyer scramble in Luongo’s crease but Philly couldn’t get the tying goal to force extra time. A win in the books for the Canucks to start their road trip on the right note.
Stop TWO: “Buffalo Bill won’t you come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight…”
The majority of last season and the first 9 games of this season has been somewhat of a nightmare for the Buffalo Sabres who have just one win. Rumors are continuously spinning that Miller and possibly Vanek are on the trading block before the season ends.
Heading into this game Buffalo was looking to build upon their first win of the year and Vancouver wanted to build upon their Philadelphia victory.
The Canucks set a dominant the pace in the first period as soon as the puck dropped, peppering 19 shots at Miller and only allowing 7 shots on Luongo. The Canucks eventually grabbed a 1-0 lead thanks a goal from Higgins nearly 15 minutes into that first period and kept the Sabres to minimal chances.
The second period has not been the Canucks forte as of late…the pattern has been the give up the lead and as we all know: NO leads are safe in any game. The pace slowed a little in the second period with not as many shots getting through BUT the Canucks were able to do something they have only done once this season: grab a 2 goal lead! The second goal came from Brad Richardson while the Canucks were shorthanded. Despite being down 2-0, the Sabres were still in this one thanks to Ryan Miller.
This was the first time since the Edmonton game that Vancouver was beginning a third period with a 2 goal lead, it was refreshing to see! Buffalo started the third period with a little more jump and early in the period it looked like they had comeback within ONE. That is until the play was reviewed showing that while the puck did beat Luongo, it hit the crossbar going along the goal line BUT never crossed the goal line: NO GOAL. Tough break for the Sabres[every hockey fan can relate!] The third period was Luongo’s toughest with the Sabres out-shooting the Canucks 11-6 BUT it was Vancouver that provided the offense. Ryan Stanton who has played solid defensively since joining the Canucks was the benefactor of a #sedinery play and made NO mistake putting the puck past Miller for the 3-0 lead. Congratulations Stanton, on scoring not only your first Canuck goal, but also your first NHL goal!
The final score: Canucks 3-0 Sabres. Roberto Luongo earned his 63rd career shutout moving him up to 15th on the all-time record list [just 4 more shutouts and he will surpass Patrick Roy!]. Congratulations Roberto! Luongo finished the game with 25 saves with a little help from the team who blocked 17 shots. This was a full 60 minute effort from the team…now to work on that power play!
Next Stop: TODAY at the Igloo! aka Pittsburgh and a very tough Penguin team being led by the very talented Crosby. It will be an early matinee game for those back east and a mid morning game for us on the west coast! It will not be easy to shut down Crosby and company, the Canucks will have their best effort and special teams are sure to be a game changer on both sides.
Here’s to a great game on both ends of the ice! #GoCanucksGo
As always, until next time, nuck said.