Playoff feel not quite there in Canucks win against Red Wings

Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider (centre) stops the puck from both Detroit Red Wings Justin...

Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider (centre) stops the puck from both Detroit Red Wings Justin Abdelkader (left) and Henrik Zetterberg during Saturday's game at Rogers Arena. (Reuters)

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:55 AM ET

VANCOUVER - Saturday's game in Vancouver was supposed to have a playoff feel to it — even expected by some to serve as a look-ahead to a potential post-season matchup in the coming weeks.

From the Detroit Red Wings' side of things, of course, much was at stake. Sitting in an unfamiliar ninth-place in the Western Conference with about a week to go in the regular season, they needed the win. And they were adamant following their game-day skate that this was "crunch time," with captain Henrik Zetterberg adding it feels like the team is "already in the playoffs."

Then, there are the Canucks. One point away from clinching their fifth-straight playoff appearance — and to do so on home ice, nonetheless — motivation certainly wasn't lacking. Not to mention that they have much to prove against the Wings after being trounced 8-3 and 5-2 by them earlier this season.

But despite all that set-up entering the game at Rogers Arena, the intensity and urgency didn't exactly live up to the hype.

Sure, there were some post-whistle scuffles, several roughing penalties and an abbreviated fight, but the lack of offence generated by the two skilled teams was somewhat surprising. And following an exchange of goals in the first period, it took until the shootout before anyone else managed to find the back of the net.

How un-playoff-like.

Max Lapierre scored the only marker in the shootout as Vancouver pulled off the 2-1 victory over the Wings and move six points up on the Minnesota Wild in the Northwest Division. Apparently though, Henrik Sedin may have viewed the game rather differently.

"Even though it sounds bad, I thought we played our best game in a few weeks," the Canucks captain said. "Even though we had 14 shots … we played a solid, solid game."

Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, too, claimed there was still a bit more desperation than normal from both sides.

"I don't think either of us were known for our physicality … but definitely every game seems like there's an extra urge to it and that's what we need," said Schneider, who finished with 33 saves. "We'd like to probably generate a little bit more but if we work that hard and keep them from scoring, then we'll get our chances."

With the victory, the Canucks secured their playoff berth, giving them a check-mark on a pre-season to-do list.

"That was one of our goals coming into the season," forward Alex Burrows said. "It's a tough league to do it, for us to do it again, it's great. Hopefully this year we'll be able to make a push."

Meanwhile, the Red Wings now sit one point back of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final playoff spot, although Detroit has a game in hand. They also only have one win in their last six games now.

Despite just four shots in the first period, Vancouver opened the scoring on the power play. Alex Edler's point shot through a Burrows' screen found the back of the net for the defenceman's eighth goal of the season. But with 21 seconds left in the opening frame, Detroit tied things up as Cory Emmerton made a terrific tip on a Damien Brunner shot to beat Schneider just under the glove. The second-year player picked up his fifth goal of the season.

Both sides came close on a few occasions to break the deadlock with Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Vancouver's Derek Roy both hitting the crossbars seconds apart in the third period. But shootout was required to settle the score. The Wings eventually outshot the Canucks 17-2 in the final frame and 34-14 overall.

Ryan Kesler and Roy were both stopped on their chances in the shootout while Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Brunner failed to get their shots by Schneider.

Jimmy Howard finished with 13 saves for Detroit.

Canucks blueliner Keith Ballard tweaked his back during a fight and was limited to 1:27 of ice-time in the third period.

The Canucks continue their three-game homestand Monday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks


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