The best thing about being a sports fan is when a highly anticipated matchup between two titans lives up to, and in some cases exceeds, the hype. It doesn’t happen very often, but it did on Thursday, as the Vancouver Canucks managed to claw their way to a dramatic 4-3 shootout victory in Detroit, snapping the Red Wings record-setting 23-game wining streak at home in the process.
Not only will this victory go down in history as the final chapter in a marvelous streak for the Red Wings, but it also pulled the Canucks within one point of overtaking Detroit for first place in the entire NHL. The only saving grace for the Red Wings is the lone point they acquired for keeping the game tied through the end of regulation time, as it keeps them ahead of the Canucks in the standings.
Realistically, though, the Canucks were the team that struggled mightily to keep the game tied and get at least one point to begin with. They never led at any point in the game until Alexandre Burrows roofed a backhander past Jimmy Howard to win it as the final shooter in the tie-breaking skills challenge.
They had to fight to tie the game on three different occasions, the last of those three coming with just 15.4 seconds to go as Daniel Sedin somehow managed to weave a wrist shot through a gridlock of bodies in front of Howard to tie the game.
With that being said, the Canucks were the deserving winners of this memorable battle, out shooting the Red Wings 43-36 and controlling the puck for a slight majority of the game. It was really a game that could have gone either way, which makes you wonder what kind of a difference Pavel Datsyuk would have made.
Datsyuk is arguably the best two-way forward in the world and is wonderful at forcing turnovers, something that could have come in handy against Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The Swedish twins were responsible for two of the Canucks three goals and produced against an elite opponent for the first time in more than six weeks.
Not only could Datsyuk have helped take and keep the puck away from the Sedins, but he also could have helped the Red Wings in the shootout, where they failed to score at all on Canucks' goaltender Roberto Luongo. Datsyuk is scoring at a 50 percent rate in shootouts this season and last time the Canucks and Red Wings met he made Luongo look silly while scoring with ease.
The Red Wings won’t look for excuses, though.
They’ll likely marvel at their accomplishment of winning the most consecutive home games in NHL history for a short time before they look ahead to their next game, which is also at home against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
After all, they can’t afford to revel in the memories of their winning streak for too long because the Canucks are nipping at their heels in the race for first place in the NHL and can overtake them on Friday when they face the New Jersey Devils.
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