Friday, March 24, 2006

Shootout insanity in Van City

Vancouver 4, Edmonton 3 (SO)
I was only just able to catch the tail end of the Vancouver-Edmonton matchup tonight — something about a ferry sinking made for a busy night — the last two minutes of the regulation, the overtime period and, yes, the shootout.

It wasn't as if this series — the second of three straight games between the teams — needed anymore drama, but we got it tonight in the shootout. Oilers winger Ryan Smyth took Edmonton's second shot and had thought he scored when the puck trickled in under Alex Auld after the referee had indicated no goal.

After one of the longest video reviews I've ever seen — the Canuck play-by-play men said it was 11 minutes long — it was ruled a goal. But jeez, talk about a momentum killer. An 11-minute review right in the middle of the shootout? Downright silly.

The Canucks fans at GM Place, restless at the best of times, were getting unruly by the end of it.

Three straight goals later — Jarkko Ruutu, Mike Peca and, finally, Todd Bertuzzi — and Vancouver had their second win over Edmonton in three nights. One more when this series wraps up on Saturday, and the Oilers will really be in trouble.

Covered in Oil's already assuming the fetal position:
But if you want something to blame, please blame the top line and the powerplay. Although the play was miles better than it was last game, the Oil simply didn't do enough until overtime, which they dominated. Vancouver players, even the dumb slow ones, have waaay too much room in the neutral zone, which just lets those Martian Sedin twins do their creepy ESP thing down low.
On the Canucks' side, I thought the play of newcomers Keith Carney and 92-year-old Eric Weinrich was a plus, and it's good to see Markus Naslund has semi-rediscovered that he's Markus Naslund (as evidenced by that little wraparound dealie he attempted near the end of regulation).

That said, Vancouver desperately needs Ed Jovanovski and Sami Salo back, as all three of Mattias Ohlund, Weinrich and Carney played wayyyy too much (all drew more than 24 minutes). The word on Salo has been non-existent; last we heard three weeks ago, he may have needed season-ending surgery. Jovanovski's scheduled to come back for the final week of the season.

As for the Oilers, they looked fantastic in overtime — or at least far better than Vancouver — and were far better than on Tuesday. I'd put money on Edmonton winning Saturday's game.


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