Streak Busters: Vancouver Canucks end Detroit Red Wings Home Winning Streak
By Adam Graham (@adam_graham)
Last night’s matchup between the Vancouver Canucks and the Detroit Red Wings was circled on the calendar by many as the potential end to the Red Wings historic 23-game winning streak at home. Sure, the Red Wings also had to get past formidable opponents like their divisional rivals from Nashville and their playoff nemesis from San Jose to keep the streak alive, but the possibility of the Red Wings being passed for first place in the NHL standings and their home winning streak ending on the same night seemed much more exciting.
It gave the showdown between the Canucks and Red Wings even more meaning and you could certainly sense what it meant to the Canucks by their exuberant celebration after they did, in fact, snap the Wings record-setting home winning streak with a 4-3 shootout victory. Of course, the single point gained by the Red Wings by being tied after regulation time held their spot atop the league standings, but their streak was snapped nonetheless.
So what did the Canucks do that 23 opponents before them could not?
Well, to put it simply, they beat the Red Wings at their own game in that they won the puck-possession battle. As a result, they managed more shots and generated just as many scoring chances as Detroit, which rarely happens when the Wings play in Joe Louis Arena.
Of course, the Red Wings did force some turnovers on the Canucks defense, but that’s where Roberto Luongo came in handy for Vancouver. Luongo made 33 saves and was able to keep his teammates within a goal all night.
The other noticeable factor in the Canucks victory was their resilience, which has been a common theme among this team over the past few seasons. Despite never having won a Stanley Cup, this is a team that believes they can win every game they play no matter what the circumstances are. They trailed on three separate occasions against the Red Wings; with the third of those occasions courtesy a heartbreaking goal by Justin Abdelkader that gave Detroit a 3-2 lead just 20 seconds after the Canucks had tied it, and with just over six minutes left in the third period.
Most other teams would have felt sorry for themselves in a similar situation while facing the leagues top team on their home ice, but not the Canucks. Thanks to Henrik and Daniel Sedin, the Canucks willed their way back and Daniel managed to tie the game with just 15.4 seconds remaining in regulation time, before Alex Burrows eventually won it in the shootout.
However, it would certainly be remiss to talk about this streak-snapping thriller without mentioning the absence of Pavel Datsyuk from the Detroit lineup.
Datsyuk is arguably the best two-way forward in the world and is wonderful at forcing turnovers, something that could have come in handy against the Sedins. Daniel and Henrik hadn’t produced a great game against an elite opponent since their Stanley Cup rematch against the Boston Bruins back on January 7, so you have to wonder what could have been if Datsyuk was matched up against them for most of the night, as well as what could have transpired in the shootout if one of the leagues best snipers had his crack at Roberto Luongo.
The Red Wings won’t look for excuses, though. The reality of playing a home game without their historic streak being in jeopardy will begin on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, while Vancouver will try to take down another hot team on their home ice when they face the New Jersey Devils on Friday.