The Canucks chased the play all night but somehow (read, Jacob Markstrom) survived to win in the shootout
One of the few structures to survive the Great Vancouver Fire of 1886 was owned by a man who stood on his roof, firing his gun into the air to blow the flames away. One could be convinced he was coaching the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
The Canucks won, improbably, in a shootout over the visiting Calgary Flames 4-3 at Rogers Arena in a contest that was most certainly not boring. The Canucks also got two crucial points in their hunt for the playoffs, which was pretty unexpected given the heavy tilt in shots on goal for the Flames.
The first period was wild, with each team scoring twice. The Canucks’ goals were both fine feats of skill; the Flames’ first was all about the fire-breathing first line, the second all about bad luck.
The second period was wild, with the Flames dominating play but not seizing control of the scoreboard.
The third period was also wild, even if there weren’t any goals, with the Flames getting a series of grade-A chances, especially on a four-minute man advantage midway through the frame.
Overtime was end to end. Flames captain Mark Giordano hit the crossbar, before Josh Leivo had a breakaway but was stopped by Flames netminder David Rittich.
Giordano then took a penalty, giving the Canucks a late power play. The closest the Canucks came to ending it was when Bo Horvat hit the post.
Now, in the end, the Canucks had no business being around for overtime, but while they won’t be happy with their overall play, they won’t be complaining about the points.
The Canucks, who got goals from Horvat, Josh Leivo and Brock Boeser, owe everything on the night to Jacob Markstrom.
Elias Pettersson scored the shootout winner.
The Flames’ goals were scored by Elias Lindholm, Sam Bennett and Andrew Mangiapane.
Here’s what we learned…
Jacob Markstrom had 44 saves in regulation and stopped all three in the shootout. Other than the Bennett goal, he was everything for the Canucks.
He moved in his crease well. He yielded few rebounds. He continues to show that he’s a fine No. 1 NHL goaltender.
That was surely the strategy for the Canucks in the second period. It must have been.
How else to explain that shots were 18-1 for the Flames before Boeser scored on a wrist shot from the right face-off dot off a gorgeous cross-ice pass from Elias Pettersson.
(This was Pettersson’s second assist of the game, the first coming on a near-no-look cross-ice pass to Josh Leivo, who whipped a powerful wrist shot from just inside the goal line past Rittich.)
It was an ugly second period for the home team and the Canucks had to thank Jacob Markstrom for them being in a surprising 3-3 tie going into the second intermission.
The other remarkable part of that score line was that, but for the Markstrom flub of a flipped-on-net puck from James Neal, which became a goal for Sam Bennett after the puck caromed up, down and everywhere, the Canucks would have been leading going into the break.
To see Johnny Gaudreau live, in person, is a remarkable thing.
Everything he does is fast. Everything he does is about precision. There are no wasted movements.
He took the shot that led to the loose puck that Sean Monahan put on Elias Lindholm’s stick, which the Swede then put behind Jacob Markstrom.
It was the linemates who executed, but that wrist shot that Markstrom managed to turn to the end boards was no joke.
He’s a pint-sized dynamo — and everything that’s right about where the game is evolving.
Pettersson’s setup of Boeser gave him 50 points on the season. He’s played 45 games this year.
In the last quarter-century, there are three rookies who have recorded a half-century of points in their first 45 or fewer games: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Pettersson needs 10 more points to tie Pavel Bure’s rookie record.
To the left, to the left
Bo Horvat’s goal doesn’t happen if Chris Tanev isn’t playing the left side.
It was Tanev who found the open Horvat lurking to the left of the net, a few seconds after the centre had won the puck back to the top of the right face-off circle.
A left-handed left-side defenceman would have an awfully hard time finding Horvat in that situation, but Tanev’s forced move to the left because of Alex Edler’s concussion created the opportunity.
Now, in the big picture, the Canucks can’t wait for Edler to return; but for now, Tanev is getting better on the left with every game.
Zack MacEwen had four points in a 5-2 Utica Comets win on Saturday night. He had two points on Friday night.
Surely it’s time to take a big-league look at the big, fast winger with hands.
The Canucks remain on the outside looking in, as both the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues, the two teams they’re chasing for a wild-card spot in the playoffs, won on Saturday.
The Wild have 59 points, the Blues 57 and the Canucks 57.
The Colorado Avalanche, who are right on the Canucks’ tail, lost and remain on 54 points.
All three teams have games in hand on the Canucks.
The Arizona Coyotes, the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers, who have all played one fewer game than the Canucks, are all sitting on 53 points.
That man with the gun
The anecdote at the top is true, and it comes courtesy of colleague Harrison Mooney’s excellent book, Weird and Wild Vancouver:
While the fire in 1886 is a truly sad story, there’s an excellent, smaller anecdote within it. Of the six homes that still stood after the fire, one belonged to a man who was seen perched atop his roof, surrounded by wet blankets, firing his revolver into the sky.
He staked his survival on the hope that the gunfire would create air flows that would direct the fire away from his house. While it remains one of the stupidest ideas in the history of Vancouver, it appears to have worked.
— with files from Harrison Mooney
NEXT GAME: Monday
San Jose Sharks at Vancouver Canucks
7 p.m., Rogers Arena, TV: Sportsnet Pacific, Radio: Sportsnet 650 AM
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