The Vancouver Canucks did a few things right on Thursday night.
They rallied from a 2-0 deficit, and even came back after trailing after two periods, a rarity for them.
They also scored a late goal for the second straight game to force overtime.
Despite being a low-scoring outfit, they potted four goals in regulation, three of them coming in the third period.
They got two goals from shootout "specialist" Alex Edler—both coming in the third period, no less. In fact, Edler figured in on all three Canucks third-period tallies.
They—thanks to Trevor Linden—got a goal in the shootout.
They earned a key point against the Northwest division leader, the Minnesota Wild.
But never mind all that.
Here's the best part. The Canucks still lost.
And lost ground to the Wild.
Exciting game for a hockey fan, but even sweeter than that, a beautiful result for a Canucks hater.
Great Valentine's Day gift for all Canucks haters out there.
And another awesome thing was that Roberto Luongo didn't look like the world's best goaltender, a label that many in Vancouver were giving the Canucks netminder especially after he beat Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils 5-0 on December 18th.
In fact, at that time, everyone in Vancouver was overrating the Canucks team, one that started the year 9-0-2 against their divisional foes in the Northwest.
Dominant run, eh? Many must have thought that Vancouver would never lose against the likes of Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, and Minnesota the rest of the year.
But ahh...Vancouver is now on a 1-5-2 funk in those divisional games.
And against the first-place Wild on Thursday, the Canucks initially looked like they were going to lose it in regulation.
Despite outshooting the Wild 9-4 in the first period, the Canucks fell behind 1-0 thanks to a goal by a most unlikely source--the immortal Stephane Veilleux, on a play that started out as a Wild three-on-two.
Veilleux finally got the puck at the end of the play, and had all the time in the world untouched before putting in a backhander past Luongo—who had come way out of the crease to challenge him—and three Canucks players helplessly blocking the empty net.
Veilleux, who hadn't tallied in 33 straight games going in, in fact scored the first two goals of the game as the Wild took a 2-0 lead by the midway point of the second period.
Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom, whose 2007-08 salary ($3.1 million) is more than two times lower than Luongo's ($6.5 million), was able to outplay his counterpart in goal--for two periods before the wild outburst of goals in the third stanza.
Backstrom then stopped two of the three shooters in the shootout and allowed Minnesota to clinch the victory when Mikko Koivu got the Wild's second goal in the tie-breaking session.
Backstrom, a sophmore, looked helpless in surrendering three straight goals that made it 3-2 Vancouver by the second minute of the third stanza.
Seemed like the Canucks had the momentum and might pull it out.
However, Luongo looked even worse as the Wild then proceeded to score twice to take a 4-3 lead.
First, it was a long shot by Kurtis Foster from the left point that beat Luongo that tied the game 3-3, two seconds after the Wild's power play ended.
Marian Gaborik then made it 4-3 Minnesota when his shot fooled Luongo, before Edler tied things up for Vancouver at 4-4.
Overtime settled nothing, so it was up to the shootout.
Edler, despite his two third-period goals, has been brutal in his shootout attempts since his beginner's luck last month (when he scored game-winners in his first two tries in January). And note that I said "has been" (as opposed to "had been"), which means the dry spell is ongoing.
And much to a Canucks hater's delight, coach Alain Vigneault sent Edler back out there in the shootout.
Of course, Edler flopped as the first shooter, which by now should not come as a surprise.
Even better, after Edler, a rookie, failed, Vigneault sent another freshman, Ryan Shannon, out there, and he too failed.
Vancouver is now 28-22-8 with 64 points, ninth in the Western Conference, one point behind Colorado. By virtue of being the division leader, Minnesota is ranked third in the conference with a 33-21-4 mark and 70 points.
A year earlier, on Februrary 14, 2007, it was the Canucks defeating the Wild 3-2 in OT in Minnesota.
This time around on Valentine's Day, it was the visiting Wild doing it to the hometown Canucks.
As the saying goes, what goes around comes around.
Sweet for Canucks haters like me.
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