Khabibulin makes one of his 39 saves off the shaft of his goal stick

Half a Second Too Late

Despite a late flurry by the Vancouver Canucks in the third period, the Edmonton Oilers won for the 5th time in 7 games against them at home.

It was a game that had a little bit of everything, with some late drama to put an exclamation mark on a game that didn’t feature a lot of scoring.  Ales Hemsky almost had a clean shot at a vacated Vancouver net (for the extra attacker) before a diving Alex Edler cleanly checked him off the puck.  Edler made contact with the puck first, but his poke toppled Hemsky and moved the play back the other way.

In the last minute of the game, Henrik Sedin centered a pass into the slot, with a great chance for a one-timer, only to have Alex Burrows miss the chance.  This only because he was knocked over, lost his stick, and then had it pushed away by an Oiler intentionally.  The call was missed, and the Canucks bench was rightfully up in arms.

Their arms would raise in celebration again, but unfortunately it would be to celebrate a goal that came a half second after the regulation horn sounded.  Kyle Wellwood wound it up with 6 seconds to go from his own blue line, split the Oil defense, and put the puck underneath Nikolai Khabibulin.  The review on the play showed the play was dead before the puck crossed the line.  Khabibulin played a very solid game, especially on a puck tipped high to the glove side by Michael Grabner in the middle stanza.

He certainly had some help, though.  With the game tied 1-1, Mikael Samuelsson received a pass that put Khabibulin out of position, and had a lot of open net to shoot at.  The problem is that when he did, defender Ladislav Smid cooly slid and made a left leg kick save of his own, “floor hockey style”, as color commentator John Garrett pointed out.

Christian Ehrhoff summed the game up well in his post game interview with Dan Murphy of Sportsnet Pacific.  “It may have been our best road performance, but unfortunately we couldn’t put the puck in the net,” offered the offseason acquisition from the San Jose Sharks.  “It’s not good to lose divisional games like this and let teams get an early start on us.”

Vancouver (3-5-0) sits idle in 13th position in the Western Conference, and have a tough match Wednesday in Chicago, though Khabibulin won’t be in net in the windy city.  With the game he played Monday, it’s probably another positive the Canucks can take from the situation.

notes: Canucks were without several key players again, including Daniel Sedin, Sami Salo, Pavol Demitra, and Mathieu Schneider.  Darcy Hordichuk also was scratched in favour of call-up Tanner Glass.

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