Canucks blank Oilers to clinch home ice
Henrik Sedin scored the only goal the Vancouver Canucks needed and they won the Presidents' Trophy with a 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
The Canucks ended up with the most points in the NHL for the second straight season as they finished the 2011-12 season with a 51-22-9 record. They got help earlier Saturday when the New York Rangers lost to the Washington Capitals and opened the door for Vancouver to take top spot overall. New York held the advantage on tiebreakers.
As a result of Vancouver's win, the St. Louis Blues finished in second place in the Western Conference. Vancouver will play Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs. The Blues will face the Sharks, who beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Edmonton, eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago, finished its season 32-40-10.
Sedin scored late in the second period. Sammy Pahlsson and David Booth also scored for the Canucks. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo made 17 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and the Canucks outshot the Oilers 42-17.
Vancouver went 2 for 7 on the power play. The Canucks needed to get at least a point after St. Louis beat Dallas earlier Saturday, but the outcome remained in doubt until the last 27 minutes.
The Canucks outshot the Oilers 10-0 in the opening 6 1/2 minutes but could not solve Devan Dubnyk, who was looking for a strong showing in his last game before becoming a restricted free agent this summer.
In the early going, he gloved David Booth's deflection of a Ryan Kesler cross-ice pass and then foiled Alex Burrows in a scramble during a Vancouver power play.
Later, Dubnyk made his first of two difficult saves on Sammy Pahlsson attempts.
Luongo, known to struggle when facing few shots, had little activity during the first period, but he got a toe on an Ales Hemsky shot with just over five minutes left. Fans, who had cheered raucously when Luongo was pulled two games earlier against Anaheim, feted him with an affectionate chorus of ''Louuuuu'' after the save.
Luongo made another difficult stop on a Ben Eager shot with about three minutes left in the first.
Eager gave the Canucks a power play in the late going as he crosschecked Manny Malhotra following a whistle. The Oilers winger retaliated after Malhotra had checked Chris VandeVelde face-first into the boards.
Dubnyk kept the door closed again, foiling Burrows with just under two minutes and Pahlsson in the final minute.
Malhotra returned to the Vancouver lineup after being scratched against the Calgary Flames on Thursday. He was slotted as a fourth-line winger, while Byron Bitz, a winger until now, played center. Bitz has played center in the minors.
Dubnyk was sharp again in the second period, foiling Booth twice in a short span. First, he caught the Canucks winger's shot from the slot. Then he got his blocker on another Booth shot before it rang off the post.
Sedin opened the scoring on a power play at 15:47 of the second period.
The power play resulted after former Canuck Darcy Hordichuk received a roughing double-minor for a skirmish involving him, Vancouver winger Max Lapierre and Edmonton's Eager. It was Sedin's first goal in 23 games.
His last also came against the Oilers in Edmonton on Feb. 19.
With about 2 1/2 minutes left in the second, Luongo denied Ryan Jones on a breakaway, kicking out his left pad.
Pahlsson put the Canucks ahead 2-0 early in the third period as he beat Dubnyk with a low slap shot. Booth increased Vancouver's lead to 3-0 on a power play midway through the third as broke in alone and deked Dubnyk.
The goal, Booth's first in 11 games, came while Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was serving a double-minor for high-sticking. Dubnyk prevented the Canucks from going further ahead as he dove across the crease to get the paddle of his stick on a Chris Higgins shot into a vacant net.
By going pointless, Nugent-Hopkins finished in a tie for top rookie scoring honors with Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog, who was also blanked Saturday. Landeskog finished with four more goals, but Nugent-Hopkins played 20 few games due to injury.
Notes: Vancouver F Daniel Sedin missed his ninth game with a concussion. ... Canucks F Zack Kassian remained out with an undisclosed upper-body injury. ... Canucks F Mason Raymond missed the game to be with his wife as she delivered the their first child. ... Nugent-Hopkins would like to play for Canada at the upcoming world championships, if he gets an invitation.