Feb.22 – With all the hype of the homecoming for Mats Sundin, the game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs turned out to be a sloppy piece of work from both sides. This was indicated by the SOG (38-37 Leafs), giveaways (18-15 Canucks) and odd man rushes throughout the game.
Roberto Luongo played extremely well even if he did give up a bad goal to Leaf’s Matt Stajan, from the top of the faceoff circle in the second period. Surrounded by that goal was a Toronto PP which opened the scoring in the first period, as the Canuck’s continue to languish with the PK (24th overall) but it was a sawoff in special teams, as the Canuck’s Salo scored one in the second.
Luongo was particularly sharp in the first period as the Leafs had a number of primo chances. Like Mitchell’s giveaway to Kabina, Ponikarovsky’s 2 shots and Blake’s semi breakaway.
Most of the 11 shots the Leaf’s had in the first period were scoring opportunities and if not for Bobby Lou, it could have easily been 2 or 3-0. That’s when you know Luongo is returning to form, when he is moving effortlessly from goal post to goal post, challenging and square to the shooters, and the key point, controlling the rebounds.
He allowed the Canuck’s to stay in the game and only being down 1-0 after the first, with the team playing poorly, was Louie at his best.
I still do not see the toughness that will be needed to go deep into the playoffs, as the Leaf’s pounded the Canuck’s at will (30-18) and what’s with Ohlund and Mitchell with 0 hits? Even Kyle Wellwood had one hit!
I feel the Canuck’s still need to add a winger with some toughness, not a scrapper, but someone that can bang, create turnovers and score. I mentioned back in “Does Mike Gillis Have the Jam,” about big Ponikarovsky or Antropov being a good addition (no the Sedin’s are staying), and either one would be a huge offensive upgrade over Taylor Pyatt in a trade, with Mason Raymond being dangled also.
A class act by the sold out Toronto crowd during the second period, when they paid tribute to Sundin on the overhead screen which was followed by a standing “O”. The applause did not stop even after Sundin had acknowledged the crowd and went out to take the faceoff.
As the camera’s zoomed in on Mat’s expression, you could see it was an emotional time for him. Hat’s off to the Leaf’s Nation!
With the score 2-1 Leaf’s and time winding down in the third period, and the way Toronto’s goalie Vesa Toskala was playing, you were probably thinking would the ‘Nucks be able to come back once again? It took till 16:03 of the third to find out as a harmless shot from the point by Daniel Sedin, was tipped in by that scoring demon Alex Burrows, to tie it up at two and set the stage for OT.
Lunogo once again came to rescue, as the Canuck’s had to kill a Kevin Bieksa penalty which carried into OT. The four on three created a lot of opening space with premium scoring chances, and the one that stood out was the save off Leafs’ Luke Schenn’s blast. After killing the penalty the Canucks to had their chances. Sedin’s on a two-on-one off Toskala’s shoulder and Demitra off the goal post. What an OT, with shots 6-5 Leafs!
The stage was set for Sundin. Mats during regulation, did not have an inspiring game having been on the ice for one goal, only one scoring chance and was not his dominant self.
On to the shootout.
Let’s set the scene, with the only shooters scoring being Demitra and Leaf’s Gravovski, so the tie breaker came down to Sundin.
With the Toronto house on its feet Mats picked up the puck at centre, skating in on Toskala with speed forehand to backhand, over the blocker it goes and into the net, as the Canuck’s bench empties onto the ice to mob Sundin and even the Leaf’s crowd let out a roar.
Winning goal in the shootout, first star of the night, …..what a home coming!
The IceMan will talk to you after the game Alex Burrow’s has cirlced on his calendar, Montreal!
Filed under: Vancouver Canucks