Thursday, November 05, 2015

Penguins keep marching along, down Canucks 3-2

Crosby finds the net for just the second time this season

November 4, 2015
Vancouver Canucks Ryan Miller keeps his eyes on the puck as the Canucks battle the Pittsburgh Penguins  Sidney Crosby  87 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver  on November 4,  2015.

Vancouver Canucks Ryan Miller keeps his eyes on the puck as the Canucks battle the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby 87 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on November 4, 2015.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

Sidney Crosby scored once and the Vancouver Canucks’ didn’t score any until it was too late and, surprisingly, there isn’t much else to say about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 3-2 win Wednesday at Rogers Arena.

Crosby has had a terrible start to the National Hockey League season. But once every six games, he scores a goal and the Canucks got the unlucky part of the cycle.

Pointless in nine of his team’s first 11 games, Crosby scored from Phil Kessel’s purposeful shot-pass to double the Penguins’ 1-0 lead during a 4-on-3 power play at 7:17 of the third period.

The prettiest play in a pretty dull game came at 10:12 when Penguin Eric Fehr turnstyled Canuck defenceman Yannick Weber, who probably should come out of the lineup, and flipped the puck past goalie Ryan Miller for a shorthanded goal that made it 3-0.

But as Crosby visits go, it wasn’t exactly the 2010 Olympic final or Sid The Kid’s first trip to Vancouver with the Penguins in 2007 – when Roberto Luongo robbed him on a penalty shot, Trevor Linden scored in a shootout and Matt Cooke had a fight.

The Canucks had even fewer moments Wednesday than Crosby did and were essentially Penguined – a phenomenon new this season in which what was one of the NHL’s most entertaining teams stifles opponents into submission.

The Canucks had six shots in the first period, only 11 shot attempts, and about one scoring chance. And that belonged to Canuck grinder Adam Cracknell, who was set up in the slot by Penguin defenceman Ian Cole.

Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, as outstanding in the east as Miller has been out west in the season’s first month, denied Cracknell’s close-range shot near the end of the period.

By then, Fleury was playing with a lead, built at 4:53 by David Perron. Unchecked by Canuck defenceman Alex Edler, Perron was unencumbered when he deflected in Brian Dumoulin’s point shot.

We’re not sure what coach Willie Desjardins told the Canucks in the first intermission but they seemed a little more motivated at the start of the second.

Canuck Bo Horvat was stopped from the faceoff dot shortly before Fleury got just enough of his catching glove on Jannik Hansen’s breakaway shot to push the puck on to the post. Half a minute later, before the period was two minutes old, Fleury stopped Brandon Sutter once from the high slot and once from the hashmarks, making the second save while flying through the air like a trained killer whale – before society determined that was cruel and goaltending changed.

Fleury had actually been tripped by his own defenceman, Rob Scuderi. As long as Penguin teammates didn’t contribute to the Canucks’ attack, Fleury was fine.

Aided by a couple of unsuccessful power plays, the Canucks directed 23 shots towards the net in the middle period, but Fleury went into the final frame 13-for-13 on actual saves. Vancouver trailed after two periods for the first time in eight games and second time this season.

Except for their penalties, the Penguins showed the Canucks how to play with the lead.

After Crosby and Fehr did their damage, Vancouver scored at 13:59, making it 3-1 on Daniel Sedin’s deflection of Matt Bartkowski’s shot. Fleury’s giveaway led to Hansen’s goal with 67 seconds remaining and Miller on the Vancouver bench.

It was the Canucks’ 20th and last shot of the night.

The Canucks fell to 6-3-4 – and 2-3-3 at home – before going on the road for a season-long seven-game road trip that starts Saturday in Buffalo.

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