The Canucks’ 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues had enough fortunate bounces for a month’s worth of hockey games.
Brock Boeser’s first goal banked off the glass, off the goaltender’s pad, and in. His third goal hit a Blues player in front of the net and deflected past the goaltender. Elias Pettersson’s goal ramped up Jay Bouwmeester’s stick. Nikolay Goldobin’s goal came after Boeser fanned on a shot and fell to the ice, and an attempted shot deflected off a defender right to Pettersson.
That’s not to take anything away from the Canucks, who worked hard to create their own luck, but it was enough to make you wonder if they’d used up all their good luck for a while.
The first minute of Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets seemed to confirm that. The Blue Jackets opened the scoring when an attempted back door pass from Seth Jones went off Jay Beagle’s skate and into the net.
That’s it, I thought, the Canucks’ luck has run out. They used up too much of it in St. Louis. They needed to think ahead and bank some of that luck for the future.
Fortunately for the Canucks, that’s not how luck works. Luck flits about at random, bestowing itself on whom it pleases, when it pleases. It is, by definition, unpredictable.
The Canucks scored three goals to come from behind to win this game, with two of those goals coming in the final four minutes. The first went in off a Blue Jackets’ skate. The second went in off Pettersson’s skate. And the third was a shot from a terrible angle that had no business going in. Lady Luck was once again on the Canucks’ side.
A feverish toddler was on my side when I watched this game, but that's another story.
- The early highlight of this game came before the opening puck drop when Dan Murphy poked a little fun at John Tortorella’s “controversial” hoodie by wearing an identical hoodie for his pre-game comments instead of his traditional suit.
- The Canucks started this game with their fourth line of Tim Schaller, Jay Beagle, and Tyler Motte. The Blue Jackets started with their first line of Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Cam Atkinson. It did not go well for the Canucks, who got quickly pinned down in the defensive zone, practically inviting the bad luck goal that opened the scoring in the opening minute. If the intention was to “set the tone,” that tone was closer to the brown note than the brown sound.
- Most of this game was flat-out dreadful from a Canucks’ perspective. They struggled to create any chances in the first period, got out-shot 17-7 in the second period, and their puck management was dodgier than Justin Long. If it wasn’t for Jacob Markstrom, this game would have been over in the first 40 minutes.
- I apologize, I lied: the game would have still lasted 60 minutes if Markstrom was not in net. That’s apparently a rule of some kind.
- Two of Markstrom’s better saves came in the first period thanks to some questionable plays from Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser. He first robbed David Savard with the right pad when Virtanen completely lost track of him, then stoned Brandon Dubinsky off an ugly Boeser turnover. I’m just trying to imagine how long Nikolay Goldobin would get benched for either of those errors, but my imagination has its limits.
- Those two first period saves were outstanding, but his best came in the second period after some miscommunication between Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson — and a pratfall by Gudbranson — gave Boone Jenner a breakaway. Markstrom stuck with the deke and used his limb-length to his advantage, stretching back his right pad to make the stop, then Hutton recovered to deflect Cam Atkinson’s rebound attempt away from the net.
- Hutton also threw the biggest hit of the game, crushing Josh Anderson as he attempted to cut to the front of the net. It was a clean hit, but the result was unfortunate: Anderson hurtled headfirst into the post and left the game with an upper-body injury.
Our little boy Hutton is all grown up *sniff* pic.twitter.com/eMubcQ4kaI— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) December 12, 2018
- In the 16 minutes Hutton played with Gudbranson at 5-on-5, the Canucks were out-shot 13-3 and out-scored 2-0. In the 2:28 Hutton played apart from Gudbranson, the Canucks out-shot the Blue Jackets 4-0 and out-scored them 1-0. You might say this is a small sample size, except it’s entirely reflective of the entire season: with Gudbranson, Hutton’s numbers get cratered. Without Gudbranson, Hutton’s numbers are great. Weird how that has been so consistent.
- Since I wrote about the Canucks’ penalty killing crisis, they’ve gone three games without allowing a power play goal against. They’ve mostly done this through the clever strategy of not taking so many dang penalties, but the addition of Loui Eriksson to the PK rotation has helped as well. It also doesn’t hurt that Columbus has the 25th-ranked power play in the league. But details, details — three games without giving up a goal on the penalty kill!
- The Canucks finally got things going offensively midway through the third period and it started with a broken stick. Seth Jones hit Josh Leivo after a shot attempt, but broke his stick in the process. He immediately went to the bench, which left Leivo wide open. Big mistake! Tanev dished to Leivo, who deflected it towards the net, where it pinged off Atkinson’s skate and in.
Then again, this angle makes it look more like a Josh Leivo goal. And that is the official call. Enjoy your beers at a leisurely pace, my friends. pic.twitter.com/BavVrnoXDk— J.D. Blitzen (@JDylanBurke) December 12, 2018
- That’s Leivo’s second goal as a Canuck, which had to feel good after getting held completely off the scoresheet against St. Louis, despite being on the ice for four of the Canucks’ six goals. I could just imagine what was going through his mind when he picked up no points on Sunday — They’re going to put me on the fourth line; worse, they’re going to send me back to Toronto! I can’t go back...don’t make me go back. I don't want to go to Toronto.
- The Blue Jackets took the lead back when the Canucks got running around in their own end. In all the confusion, Hutton ended up defending against a point shot that Markstrom completely misread. Markstrom wasn’t square to the shooter, leaving far too much room on his glove side. When he couldn’t pick up the shot off the stick past Hutton’s legs, he dropped down into his butterfly and had the puck go off his shoulder and in. You have to wonder if the move to smaller equipment for goaltenders might have impacted that one.
- With just a few minutes remaining in the game, Elias Pettersson stepped in. He took control of the puck behind the net and the Blue Jackets defenders seemed to scared to challenge him. The fear was appropriate: as soon as Jones moved to check Pettersson, he slipped a pass through to Brock Boeser and jumped to the front of the net. Boeser moved the puck up to Alex Edler, whose point shot was tipped by Leivo in the slot, then went in off Pettersson’s skate as he battled Ryan Murray. That’s two goals Leivo tipped off skates: he’s clearly a pinball wizard.
- Pettersson has 10 points on his current four-game point streak. No big deal.
- It looked like this game might go to overtime, but Jake Virtanen had other ideas. Or really, just one idea, and it wasn’t an unusual idea for him: skate hard down the wing and throw the puck on net. It wasn’t a bad idea — Tyler Motte and Bo Horvat were there for a potential rebound — but it looked even better when Joonas Korpisalo failed to seal the post and the puck snuck in.
- With the Jake Virtanen goal, beers were shotgunned across the province. But I have to draw attention to one #ShotgunJake attempt in particular, as poor Blake Price blinded himself piercing the hole in the can and it all went downhill from there. Props to Price for embracing the disaster and tweeting it anyway.
- I loved Chris Tanev in this game: not only was he putting his body on the line to block shots, he also showed more care with the puck than he has all season, making great outlet passes to exit the zone. As a result, he led the Canucks’ defence with a 61.8% corsi and was also on the ice for all three Canucks’ goals and no goals against, all while playing a match-up role against the Blue Jackets’ first line.
We saw vintage Chris Tanev tonight who displayed he's still capable of shutting down the best the opposition has to offer.— Darryl Keeping (@dkeeping) December 12, 2018
He was elite defensively, allowing 1 controlled entry while forcing 10 uncontrolled. He played 22:15 of and finished with a 61.76% share of shots.#Canucks pic.twitter.com/SiADJ8AFF9
- Of course, it was still mostly about blocking shots and playing shutdown defence for Tanev, though Darryl Keeping’s gif above shows both his excellent outlet passes and his willingness to put his body on the line. With less than a minute remaining, Roussel took too long to move the puck and got checked, but Tanev bailed him out with a tremendous sliding shot block to help secure the one-goal victory.