Sports Hockey

Bridges crossed for travelling Canucks

By Hosea Cheung, 24 hours Vancouver

Los Angeles Kings defenceman Matt Greene battles Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa Monday night at the Staples Centre in L.A.

Los Angeles Kings defenceman Matt Greene battles Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa Monday night at the Staples Centre in L.A. (REUTERS)

It was a side of the Vancouver Canucks not often seen this season. But they put it on full display Monday against the Los Angeles Kings, and now could use more of it as they continue their three-game road trip.

Although they ended up being blanked in a 1-0 loss, the aggressive, take-no-prisoners effort by the Canucks in a testy tilt left a more positive impression than not.

For those who insist this team is soft, at least there's now some legitimate game tape to prove otherwise.

"There were a lot of things that I thought we stepped out of into a different level," head coach John Tortorella said afterwards. "We did a really good job as far as deciding that ice is ours also. It's something that's been minus in our game a little bit here.

"We got squat for points, but I think we crossed a couple of bridges in what needs to be done."

The team showed backbone Monday in what Henrik Sedin claimed was "up there with our best games of the year." Even goalie Roberto Luongo, who has been sidelined since the previous meeting with L.A., tweeted Tuesday, "Those were my teammates last night!" with a teary-eyed emoticon.

The Canucks did everything right but score.

Zack Kassian led the charge, albeit with some questionable decisions. Tom Sestito stood up for the captain only to get himself thrown out of the game. And two team leaders, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa, were both willing combatants in dropping the gloves.

The team finished with 34 hits and 69 penalty minutes, all the while lauded for this physical side, which finally makes a full 60-minute appearance.

But don't let their aggressiveness overshadow their strong defensive and goaltending showing. On a night when the Canucks were shorthanded for a total of 14 minutes and 50 seconds (nearly one-fourth of the game), they gave up just 20 shots on net while blocking 15 others. The league's best penalty kill unit were a perfect seven-for-seven as well.

"Our overall game was good," Kesler said. "We out-battled them, we outhit them, we were more physical and we dominated them. They get a lucky bounce, turns into a three-on-one and that's the ball game."

The focus now turns to the Anaheim Ducks, who have just one loss in their last 18 games. Heading in as winners of seven straight, the Ducks lead the NHL with 75 points and are 19-0-2 at home.

Yup, the odds aren't exactly in Vancouver's favour. Then again, if they come out swinging again, manage to find the back of the net, and put together a similar effort like they did against the Kings, a Disneyland miracle isn't out of the question.



Do the Canucks need to fight more?

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