It was bound to happen at some point. Everyone knew that. Since December 5, 2010, the Canucks had not lost a game in regulation, until Thursday night in Madison Square Gardens.
The Gardens, which are currently undergoing an internal face-life, have seen a lot of sporting events come and go. The tradition is irrefutable, and any commentator I’ve ever heard describe their visit, speak to the energy in the building. For many Canuck fans, quick flashbacks of ’93/94 remind us of the cruel but bittersweet moments associated with MSG. The Gardens would also mark a less historic moment in Canuck history, ending what has to be the new benchmark for any stretch of regular season play.
The Canucks went 14-0-3 during their recent 17 game stretch, thanks in no small part to their speedy, puck moving game, and excellent special teams.
As the clock wound down, with Schneider pulled for the extra attacker, you could see the relief and excitement on the faces of the Ranger skaters as the final buzzer went. It speaks volumes to the kind of respect the Canucks are starting to earn around the league. Their road record, humble though it began, has become one of the best in the NHL, now 13-6-3. Interestingly, the New York Rangers own the best road record at 15-7-1, but so far they are just 2 games over .500 at MSG.
As media asked Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault about the goaltending performance of Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, he was quick to give redirect the spotlight. “I thought there were two great goaltenders on the ice tonight,” referencing Cory Schneider’s continued strong play. He allowed the games’
only goal through 35 shots, good for a .971 save percentage. He was also named the Third Star of the game.
The Canucks have very little time to reflect on the loss, just 21 hours to get on the ice at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The Capitals (24-13-7) have been averaging one less goal for per game than 2009/10. Having lost 4 of their last 5, and the Canucks’ penchant for scoring first, Coach Bruce Boudreau knows they have a tough task ahead. “We haven’t scored the first goal in a game for a long while. It’s hard fighting from behind every night.”
January continues to be a busy month for the Canucks, in the middle of a 5 game, 8 night road trip. After tonight’s match with the Capitals, the Canucks fly out to Minnesota (game only seen on Roger’s SportsNet Vancouver) and wrap up in Colorado Tuesday versus the Avalanche (6pm PST, Roger’s Sportsnet Pacific).