While Tuesday’s match between the two top Eastern Conference teams probably only muddied the picture regarding which squad is the strongest on that side, the Vancouver Canucks made it that much clearer that they are the class of the West tonight.
Daniel Sedin scored two goals to strengthen his chances of joining his brother as a Hart Trophy winner while Roberto Luongo made 39 saves to power the Canucks’ 2-1 win against the West’s second ranked team, the Detroit Red Wings.
Each teams rotated strong periods, as the Red Wings out-shot the Canucks in the first period (11-5) and third (17-8) while Vancouver dominated a busy second (20-12). Daniel celebrated the recent birth of his daughter by scoring the Canucks’ goals, with the first being an attempted pass that went off (fellow potential Hart nominee) Nick Lidstrom’s skate while his game winner was a hard shot on the power play. Henrik Sedin earned the primary assist on both of his twin’s goals.
Jiri Hudler scored a power-play goal to make it 2-1, but it wasn’t enough for the Red Wings.
Before concerned Detroit fans prepare to throw Jimmy Howard under the bus, he had a good game, stopping 31 out of 33 shots. His performance wasn’t good enough to stop Luongo from earning his 34th win of the season, though.
This marks Vancouver’s sixth consecutive road win, an impressive feat considering the fact that just about every team they play against has more riding on each game than they do. The win pushes them to 105 points, giving them a 10-point lead over Detroit for first place with only eight games left for both teams.
The Canucks haven’t clinched the West’s top spot yet, but they are awfully close to doing so. The Red Wings remain at 95 points, with a comfortable Central Division lead and tenuous grasp on the second seed ahead of the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks can narrow the gap between themselves and Detroit to one point with a win against the Calgary Flames tonight.