Sunday, April 08, 2012

Game 82: Vancouver 3 Edmonton 0

While Devan Dubnyk did all he could to ensure the Edmonton Oilers would finish their season on a winning note, the Vancouver Canucks had other ideas. Despite the best efforts of their starting netminder, Edmonton could do little to slow down a Canucks side that clinched the President's Trophy as the league's top team, with a 2-1 victory over their Northwest rivals. David Booth led the way with a goal and eleven shots on net, while Roberto Luongo earned his his fifth shutout of the season, making seventeen saves.

Vancouver was all business from the drop of the puck, jumping out to a 10-0 lead on the shot clock before the midway point of period one. Despite their persistent attack, they were unable to beat the Oilers goalie, who absolutely robbed Booth two minutes in with a great glove stab on a sneaky re-direction from the Vancouver winger and then stoned Alex Burrows twice on point blank opportunities, to keep this one scoreless.

While the home side was by far and away the better team in the opening period, as their 17-5 advantage on the shot clock would suggest, they were the beneficiary of three blatant non-calls by the officials, who turned a blind eye to two Oiler players being driven face first into the boards and another being high-sticked in the face. I am not one who tends to complain about officiating but last night's display was downright embarrassing and something the NHL has to get under control before the start of next season.

After being completely outplayed in the opening twenty minutes, Edmonton worked their way back into the game but found nothing but goal posts behind the Vancouver netminder. First Jordan Eberle found the upright, after cleanly beating the Nucks starter with a quick wrist shot and then Luongo managed to catch a piece of an Ales Hemsky shot with his out stretched pad before watching it deflect off the post and into the corner.

At the other end rink, the Canucks finally solved Dubnyk after they were given a four minute power play courtesy of a Darcy Hordichuk roughing double minor. After making a wonderful stop on a Ryan Kesler deflection, Dubnyk appeared to be down and out to deal with Henrik Sedin's rebound. However, the Oiler tender still managed to get a piece of the talented Swede's shot but it wasn't enough, as the puck went up and under the cross bar to give Vancouver the 1-0 lead.

Early in period three, they would extend their lead to two, thanks to a Samuel Pahlsson one timer that beat a surprised Dubnyk. Seven minutes later, Vancouver would put this one to bed when Booth would finally beat Dubnyk with a great individual effort. The former Florida Panther winger took a drop pass, in full stride, at centre ice from Kevin Bieksa and proceeded to blow past Jeff Petry and slip a cheeky little shot just out of the reach of the Oilers goaltender, for his sixteenth of the season.

With this one basically over, all that remained was a brilliant save from the Edmonton starter of Christopher Higgins, that may very well have been the save of the year.With Vancouver swarming the Oilers in their own end, David Booth found Higgins all alone in front of the visitors net with a nifty little feed that the Canucks winger ripped towards what appeared to be a wide open Edmonton cage. A heroic second effort from Dubnyk to dive back to try and stop Higgins attempt, was rewarded with a mesmerizing stop by the Edmonton puck stopper, that left the entire arena stunned and Higgins chuckling.

The loss means the Oilers finish their 2011-2012 campaign with a 32-40-10 record and in twenty-ninth spot in league standings. While Edmonton collected twelve more points this year compared to last, their total of seventy-four points allowed them to move up only one spot, to fourteenth in the Western Conference standings.

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