Vancouver looks to win their first Stanley Cup since 1915

While the Vancouver Canucks have been unlucky in their search for a Stanley Cup since the team joined the NHL in 1970, a drought of 40 years now, the city of Vancouver has been suffering a bit longer. While the Canucks have trotted out names like Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Roberto Luongo this year and names like Pavel Bure, Kirk McLean, and Trevor Linden during the 1990s, it was guys like Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, Lloyd Cook, and Barney Stanley who brought Vancouver the Stanley Cup for the first and only time it’s been in the city.

Not familiar with those names? Well why not? That Vancouver team did beat the Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup after all. No, not the Senators as you know them now, but the legendary Senators of the early 1900s. In this case Taylor, Cook, and Stanley did the job way back in 1915 as members of the Vancouver Millionaires.

Canadiens blog Habs Eyes On The Prize has a killer run down of that 1915 Millionaires team that brought the City of Vancouver their first and only Stanley Cup to date. While the exploits of Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler could become the things of legend by the time the finals are over this year, they’d rather not fade into distant memory the way the Millionaires did.

The Millionaires, curiously named because the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) team owned in part by Lester Patrick (of Patrick Division fame) was paying out players in large sums for the day between $3,500 and $5,200 to play hockey. In those early days of the Stanley Cup it was contested between the champion of the PCHA and the National Hockey Association (NHA). In this case in 1915, the Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Wanderers in a two game series (winner determined by who scored the most goals) for the right to face the Vancouver Millionaires.

In those finals, things went really well for Vancouver in spite of the curious rules.

The best of five series was set to be played on five consecutive nights from March 22 to March 26 at Denman Arena in Vancouver. Odd numbered games would be played under PCHA rules, allowing for six players and a rover, whereas games 2 and 4 would feature the six per side NHA rules.

Before 7,000 excited fans, the Millionaires won the first game of the series by a 6-2 score. In the second game, with six men per side, Ottawa jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Vancouver pounced back, winning 8-3. Game 3 was even more lopsided, as Barney Stanley of the Millionaires scored a hat trick in the middle frame, to pace Vancouver to a 12-3 thumping of the Senators, and a claim on Vancouver’s first Stanley Cup. The 26 goals scored by Vancouver would set a Stanley Cup final record for the time.

While it’s no longer played that way nor is the game played the same way, fans in Vancouver are hoping the Canucks have some of that Millionaires spirit to them in these Stanley Cup finals against the Bruins.

(Millionaires photo thanks to Ice Hockey Wiki)

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.