The Vancouver Canucks have done it again.
They couldn’t score and were trailing after forty minutes. They tied it late. They won the game. This has been what seems like a routine for the Canucks so far as they open up their season showcasing a 3-0-0 record, after coming up with the necessary offense late in the third period against the St. Louis Blues to tie the score at 1-1.
That goal came courtesy of Bo Horvat, who now has goals in back to back games. He got the fans juices flowing, with his classic Spartan-like celly, and Rogers Arena actually had consistent flow of positive energy in it. There was solid action on both sides of the ice and this carried on into overtime, where the Sedins orchestrated a skilled passing play with Chris Tanev that was capped with Henrik’s finish. Daniel Sedin actually spent the entire overtime on the ice and was very gassed, so the goal couldn’t have come at a better time.
The team’s two previous comebacks took place on the opening weekend, where they came from behind to defeat the Flames in a shootout on Saturday, then followed that up by coming back from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Hurricanes in overtime the next day.
The Canucks came flying out of the gates but had nothing on the board to show for it, then the Blues began to dictate the play. Once again deciding to switch gears in the latter half, they tied the game late in what was an entertaining third period. Each line was on the forecheck a lot quicker, but they also got back to the puck in the defensive zone quicker. They made simple yet effective plays that generated a few quality scoring chances, some of which came from turnovers caused by the structural defensive system that’s been implemented by new assistant coach Doug Jarvis. It’s an effective way to win hockey tight hockey games and although the fans in Vancouver may not be used to it, they’d take a 2-1 win over a 5-4 loss any day of the week. This doesn’t necessarily mean the scores will always be low, but that their prime focus is defence and generating goals off the transition or power play, which still needs some work.
I’m not saying they were perfect or completely where they want to be. They’re far from it, but the Canucks are definitely playing structured hockey right now, and that’s the best positive for the team to have earlier in this NHL campaign. They were resilient and dealt with tough times by grinding it out, battling, and sticking to the system regardless of the situation, which demonstrated some of that character Jim Benning often refers to. The challenge for them going forward will be consistency throughout the full sixty minutes of a game and getting off to a better start, especially the need to score goals in the first period.
Tarasenko scores goals for a living and has continued to be successfully done so from the beginning of this young season, so it’s not exactly a surprise he scored the lone goal for the Blues.
Jacob Markstrom was stellar in goal and was almost unbeatable, stopping 23 out of 24 shots. This was the type of bounce-back effort I expected from him and he delivered at a high level, keeping the Canucks in the game at times where they looked lost in their own zone. In a losing effort, Jake Allen also played very well in net, making 24 saves on 26 shots.
First-year Canuck defenseman Erik Gudbranson recorded his first point with the new club, an assist that came from his slap shot that rebounded to the perfect spot for Horvat to put it in the net.
The Canucks look to extend their winning streak when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, at 7pm PST.