After last night's 5-3 win by the Devils, the Canucks faithful has to be all about all kinds of ways to get Roberto Luongo back healthy. Vancouver's already set themselves up for it by waiving last night's "better" goaltender in blue, Curtis Sanford (report from NHL.com). One of the big positives that has to be taken out of this win is how the Devils saw weakness and pounced on it.
The Canucks were awful in the first period and the Devils just took that period over. 12 shots on net compared to 4. Jason LaBarbera got burned twice on shots (Rolston, Parise finishing a 2-on-1)most goalies really should have stopped because they would have been in good position. LaBarbera being pulled for Sanford within the game's first 5 minutes! Only for Sanford to get caught behind his own net in an attempt to play the puck. and leaving Brian Gionta with the whole net to put it into. The Devils were aggressive, they were swift, they didn't relent, and their 3-0 lead was well deserved. That was exactly what needs to happen when the opposition is playing poorly - advantage needs to be taken. And the Devils took it.
I'd go as far as to say the Devils were the far better team last night overall. The Canucks eventually found some fight in themselves and started pressing a little more beginning with a power play in the second and after Zajac's third period goal. But the Devils didn't really hang back onto the leads. The defense didn't really make too many errors; and the Devils got some dangerous rushes on offense throughout the game. Sanford calmed down in net and only conceded a blazing Zajac wrister from his right in the third after that horrific first period. I would have liked more shots in the third, but that's not really much of a complaint. Even, the penalty killing by the Devils was good, continuing a streak of 11 straight kills on this road trip (as noted by Gulitti), stopping all 3 from tonight.
The real downside from the game was Scott Clemmensen. I know he lost his last three starts, he made some important saves last night, and, according to Chere, Sutter isn't going to kill him for what happened. Still, he deserves criticism for the two goals he gave up in the third period. He got caught rising up when Pavol Demitra pounced on a rebound from a Mats Sundin slapshot - right through the legs. He got caught with his legs open late, when Steve Bernier just whipped it on net from a tight angle. Those plays weren't the fault of the defense, or Dainius Zubrus losing possession to a crashing Ryan Kesler. Both goals were very stoppable. They really should have been stopped. They were, well, LaBarbera-esque. They allowed Vancouver (and the crowd) to get back into it, and made the game much closer than it really was.
I'm glad that the Devils won, don't get me wrong, but Clemmensen's got to be more mindful with his legs. Were the Canucks playing better last night, it could have led to the three goal lead the Devils being snuffed. Thankfully, they weren't, Zubrus got the empty net with a little help from Sedin (I couldn't make out which one, sorry). The win is the important thing; it's the result that matters. Yet it was proof that a few mistakes could turn an easy win into something more challenging. In the meantime, Vancouver will hope Luongo can be the new savior of the team. Good luck to them with all that then.