The Pittsburgh Penguins had been there before, and the Vancouver Canucks had seen this story before too. The visiting Penguins won another shootout thriller 4-3 in Vancouver following a hard working comeback from the home team who came within inches of clinching the comeback Thursday night.
Cody Hodgson attempted to out-wait Marc-Andre Fleury late in the third, but slid the puck just wide after beating the Penguins backstop in what would have been a late go-ahead goal for the Vancouver. Instead, the skills competition rolled out once again featuring another gorgeous set of moves from Kris Letang.
The shootout served as a stunning showcase of Letang’s talent as well as an enormous flaw in Roberto Luongo’s game.
Letang and teammate Evgeni Malkin both beautifully undressed Luongo sending him down to the ice far too early on both shootout attempts.
It was a rough night for Luongo who allowed two regrettable goals in regulation, only to out-due himself in the shootout with two poor attempts. Canucks fans were having flashbacks to last season’s second round series with the Nashville Predators after both Luongo and Fleury allowed goals from behind the red line.
Hodgson may take a few games to get up to NHL speed depending on how long it takes his wingers to shake the rust off. Samuelsson and Sturm both appeared sluggish compared to the young prospect fresh out of Gary Roberts boot camp.
Chris Higgins had a sharp game on Vancouver’s third line and should light a fire under the sluggish second line who struggled against the Penguins. Along with Higgins the president of the Alain Vigneault doghouse himself Keith Ballard had an impressive game on the blue line.
Ballard’s late second period surge up ice allowed Henrik Sedin to saucer in a pretty pass to the streaking defenceman who roofed the puck past Fleury to pull the Canucks within one.
Several Canucks may have had a rough first night on the ice; however no one in Rogers Arena had a worse night at work than Mark Lee. The CBC announcer stumbled through a terrible first game that climaxed when Lee announced Maxim Lapointe was skating in on Fleury.
As CBC viewers would naturally assume, Kevin Weeks had a tough night as always. Who does Milan Michalek play for again, Kev?