Canucks' shootout winner ends snoozer against Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets' John Moore (R) pushes Vancouver Canucks' Alexander Edler into the boards during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia March 26, 2013. (REUTERS)
If you managed to stay awake until the end of Tuesday's game at Rogers Arena, you would know that it took a shootout to finally settle the score.
For the rest of those who dozed off, lucky you.
In a game devoid of excitement and, well, regulation scoring, it wasn't until the third round of the extra session before someone found the back of the net.
Max Lapierre potted the winner on a backhander to lead the Vancouver Canucks over the Columbus Blue Jackets in a riveting 1-0 win. Can you sense the sarcasm?
Then again, the two teams' final regular season meeting this year wasn't exactly expected to be a barnburner.
On one end was an improving Blue Jackets side clearly relying on their recent ability to suffocate opponents, led by one of the hottest goalies in the league in Sergei Bobrovsky. With only three wins on the road this season, they may as well have just parked the team bus in front of their own net.
At the other end was a Canucks squad that only as of late rediscovered something resembling a consistent scoring touch. Of course, Cory Schneider also did his part in keeping the limited Columbus chances out of his own net, making just 17 saves for his third shutout of the season. His biggest stop came with about eight minutes to go in the third when he stoned forward Nick Foligno in tight.
"I'm not sure anybody knew I was playing until the third period," said Cory Schneider, who faced just eight shots through the first 40 minutes. "Hats off to our guys for keeping them at bay, controlling the puck."
For Vancouver, opportunities were there — with 34 shots of their own. However, the execution wasn't. Andrew Ebbett fanned on a great chance in front of the net in overtime while Jannik Hansen was stopped by the pads of "SpongeBob" on a breakaway moments later.
But in the end, the Canucks' multiple failed chances and unproductive power play didn't come back to haunt them. Instead, they pick up their fifth straight victory and two valuable points in their see-saw battle for top spot in the Northwest Division with the Minnesota Wild, who won the night before.
"I would say that's a pretty good effort defensively," Kevin Bieksa said. "We're playing to our strengths, we're getting good goaltending and we're a patient team. If it takes until overtime or the shootout to get the win, that's the way we're playing right now. We're not changing our game."
The last time the Canucks went 0-0 after 60 minutes was on April 11, 2009, where they eventually won 1-0 in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche.
Tuesday, it was a snoozer from the get-go.
The first period saw Vancouver outshoot the visitors 13-2, before taking a 25-8 edge in that department after 40 minutes. The final tally was 34-17 for the home team.
In the shootout, Mason Raymond and Jordan Schroeder couldn't convert for Vancouver while Artem Anisimov, Ryan Johansen and Matt Calvert were stopped.
"I was going backhand all the way, I do it in practice, it works," Lapierre said of his shootout goal. "I closed my eyes, and pray and it worked."
Vancouver also went 0-for-three on the power play. They close out their two-game homestand Thursday against Colorado.