A few inches…
That’s all the Phoenix Coyotes needed – in the form of a couple timely goals and a shootout marker by Antoine Vermette that juuuuuuuuuuuust crossed the line next to Roberto Luongo’s extended right bad – to oust the Vancouver Canucks in an otherwise completely even game, 3-2 in a shootout that took six rounds to finish.
Luongo made 30 saves for Vancouver, compared to 31 for Phoenix’s Mike Smith.
“It’s a game of inches, and that puck just got over the goal line,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said of Vermette’s extra-innings winner (NHL.com). “Last year, shootouts were one of the places we came up short on some points (4-6 overall), so it’s good to see us get some this year.”
Radim Vrbata opened the scoring in the first for the Yotes, when he tipped in a point shot by Martin Hanzal just 1:15 in. The Canucks then took two successive penalties, delaying their comeback by 20 minutes, before Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Kesler went back-to-back to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead 4:15 into the second period.
Shane Doan then put the tying marker past Luongo at 17:39 of the second frame, and the 2-2 score last until overtime, which solved nothing.
Vermette and Vrbata scored in the shootout for Phoenix, and Alex Burrows scored for Vancouver.
“I knew I got a piece of it with my pad,” Luongo said of Vermette’s goal after the game.
The Vancouver goalie actually made the initial save on the goal, but it just trickled past his outstretched right leg and crossed the line.
“I didn’t know which way the puck was spinning, but when I turned around I saw it barely across the line,” Luongo said. “It’s disappointing to lose, but a great game for both teams.”
The Canucks now head to San Jose to play the Sharks on Thursday.
The Northern California fish (the Sharks, get it?) have beaten the Canucks twice already in 2013, both by 4-1 margins.