Sometimes I try to get ahead of the curve by beginning to put together my recap well before the game is actually over. I chip away during the first and second intermissions, setting things up, before ultimately finalizing everything right after the final buzzer. It’s a pretty common thing to do when covering a game because it allows you to have your thoughts up rather quickly while the topic is still hot.
This time around I didn’t do that for whatever reason, and boy am I glad that I didn’t. The Canucks-Flames game on Sunday night pretty much had it all, before ultimately ending in Overtime on the game winner by Mike Santorelli (pictured above). Let’s get to it all right past the jump.
The Canucks looked dreadful in the opening period, getting outchanced by the Flames 8-4. David Booth scored his first goal since March 14th by tipping home a shot from the point by Garrison. That came just under 5 minutes into the game. After that, it was all Flames. They only managed to give up 1 goal during that time, largely due to the combination of Eddie Lack playing very well, and the Flames generally lacking NHL-level finishing skill. The stat line doesn’t look necessarily pretty for Lack in his debut – 4 GAA, and an .889 save% – but without him, this game could’ve gotten away from the team in a hurry.
At the 1st intermission, when being interviewed by Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, Booth mentioned that you just try to weather the storm, and stay within striking distance when playing the second of a back-to-back on the road. He went on to say that he liked the team’s chances in the coming two periods since the game was still tied..
After thinking that the Canucks couldn’t possibly look more lackadaisical and uninspired than they did in the opening frame, they were somehow significantly worse in the 2nd period. They were outchanced by an 8-1 margin, but again, thanks to Lack’s strong play they limited the damage to only 1 goal against. It was 2-1 through 40 thanks to Mikael Backlund’s beautiful move on a breakaway.
The Flames actually went on to have the 1st 2 scoring chances of the 3rd period, making it 18-5 in that department for the game. 2013 1st round pick Sean Monahan made it 3-1, and Sportsnet’s cameras panned to an incredulous looking John Tortorella. After that he decided to shake things up, and go off of former bench boss Alain Vigneault’s old coaching manual by pulling the ol’ line blender out.
He put Henrik with Higgins and Santorelli, and Daniel with Kesler and Hansen. Only a few minutes later the team rewarded him with a nice Hansen goal coming off of a setup with Daniel. Another couple of minutes later, brother Henrik (probably not wanting to be outdone) set Mike Santorelli up for his 1st goal as a Vancouver Canuck. The Canucks actually briefly took the lead after Richardson set Dutch superstar Dale Weise up for the go-ahead goal, but the Flames sent the game to OT following a wild goal mouth scramble in the dying seconds.
In OT, the Sedins were put back together and nearly won it on their first shift with a good chance that was stopped by MacDonald. Not long after that Kevin Bieksa completed a beautiful rush by showing some patience and hanging onto the puck before finding Santorelli for the easy tap-in. All in all, it was a perfectly fitting finish to a surprisingly entertaining game. Total team effort finding a way to come back and salvage the two points despite essentially snoozing through the 1st 40+ minutes. Thankfully for the Canucks, the Flames weren’t really able to make them pay for that.
I should also note that sometime in the 1st the Canucks moved a struggling Dan Hamhuis away from Bieksa, and paired him up with Tanev (who seriously needs to get a haircut, because that nasty greasy hair is giving me Brent Sopel flashbacks). That meant that Bieksa was paired with Ryan Stanton, who actually looked super competent. He doesn’t really seem to make mistakes, and keeps things simple, which is all you can really ask of him.
We’ll wrap this recap up with a video of highway robbery, as Joey MacDonald totally stoned Chris Higgins with his stick. If you missed it during the game I recommend checking it out because it’s a really sweet save.
Check back tomorrow morning for a closer look at how the scoring chances totals (and some of the other more relevant underlying numbers) shook out.