Photo via NHL [dot] com.
Okay, you can exhale now.
Less than 48 hours after playing what can only be described as a snoozer of a game in Columbus the Canucks went into the Nassau Coliseum and won 5-4 in overtime against the New York Islanders in a back-and-forth, wild ‘n’ wacky game. Other than a quiet stretch that didn’t have much in the way of happenings in the 3rd period this was a contest that was as entertaining as it gets.
Once you feel like you’ve adequately composed yourself and gathered your bearings, read on past the jump for some thoughts on the eventful victory by the Vancouver Canucks. There are definitely more than a few things to talk about.
I know that there’s someone out there that watches nearly every second of every single Canucks game, that missed the first few minutes of this one because they had to take care of a chore and figured they wouldn’t miss out on anything. I know that, because I’m speaking from firsthand experience. That happened to me. So I can’t really discuss what happened only 2:26 into the game that resulted in the goal that made it 1-0 Islanders, but I do see that Andrew Alberts was a -1 as a result and didn’t play after that.
I walked right in as the Islanders made it 2-0 on a power play goal following a scramble in front of Roberto Luongo. By the time I took my jacket and shoes off and got situated on the couch, Ryan Kesler scored off of a big rebound following a shot by Dan Hamhuis to make it 2-1 just 16 seconds later. Good god, Evgeni Nabokov is terrible. Unfortunately for the Islanders the rebound resulting in Kesler’s goal was hardly the first time he gift-wrapped the Canucks a goal on this night.
By the 9:09 mark of the opening period, the Canucks had tied the game up at 2 thanks to a nice shot from Daniel Sedin streaking by the left wing. He can thank
Henrik Sedin Jannik Hansen for the opportunity, as a wicked tape-to-tape cross-ice pass made it all happen.
Unfortunately for Hansen, he took a nasty spill just a few minutes later and left the game. He seemed to loss balance as he drove to the net and a slight nudge from defenseman Brian Strait sent him crashing into the endboards. He didn’t return to the game, and we don’t know what the injury actually is at this time, but to me it looked like he maybe separated his shoulder or something. Whatever it was, it didn’t look good. It goes without saying that if he misses any extended period of time it’ll be a huge blow to the Canucks.
Remember the bizarro goal by Dale Weise/Brad Richardson on Saturday in Pittsburgh? Well, something similarly bizarre happened in this game when a pass by Weise sprung the Sedins for a 2-on-1. Daniel held, and held, and held, and held.. and heeeellllllldddd.. until finally almost reluctantly firing the puck on net from in tight. The rebound went right to Henrik who was jogging on the spot to bank it in and tie the game up at 3. If I were to tell you that the Sedins scored a goal on a 2-on-1 you’d probably think that it was a thing of beauty, but this one couldn’t have been further from that.
"No, no, no, YES!" – The Kevin Bieksa life story.
— Terry Singh (@terrytothesingh) October 23, 2013
With time expiring in the 2nd period quite possibly the most Kevin Bieksa-ish play of all-time resulted in a goal for Chris Higgins (43 shots on goal in 11 games now, I’m sorry but I can’t stop mentioning this stat because it’s kind of insane!) to give the Canucks their first lead of the game. He nearly sprung the Islanders on a break with a poor decision, but then kind of willed the puck into the Islanders zone, and fired the puck at Nabokov who basically said "welcome home!" to Higgins with the rebound he kicked out to him.
The 3rd period was a pretty uneventful one for the first 12-13 minutes or so. I’m sure that it was going exactly the way the Canucks wanted it to considering they were nursing a lead on the road. Ultimately the Islanders – with the goalie pulled and the extra attacker out – tied it up at 4 with 1:12 left. It was Frans Nielsen (!) burying the rebound, and I’ll talk about why that’s important in much more detail below.
In OT, it was a nice rush by Richardson and Santorelli that resulted in the game winning goal. At first it looked like Bieksa might be credited with the goal as he was crashing the net, but as of now the goal has been awarded to Richardson. With that goal the Canucks are now 6-4-1 on the year, and 3-1-1 on their 7-game roadtrip. Next up is a rematch against Cory Schneider and the Devils on Thursday night in New Jersey.
Kesler up to old tricks. Down, out and nearly dead … but hopping over the boards for the PP.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) October 23, 2013
-If you follow me on Twitter you know that I really took offense with this tweet (and play by Nielsen). Heck, the headline of this game recap is based off of it. Essentially what happened was that as Kesler was playing a puck along the end boards, Nielsen skated by him and clipped him in the head with an elbow. Kesler fell, and the Canucks were awarded a 2-minute penalty. Nielsen went on to tie the game in the dying minutes and salvage a point for his team, so if you ever believed that there was such a thing as the "hockey gods", you might want to reconsider that..
It wasn’t too long ago that Alex Edler was suspended 3 games for a very similar incident. Except that I actually think Nielsen’s hit was worse because he actually appeared to prop his elbow up in the last second before contact, whereas Edler clearly tucked his. Now, Nielsen isn’t considered a repeat offender, so it’s tough to say how he’ll be reprimanded, but I sincerely hope that he doesn’t get off the hook here without anything. Mostly because I don’t want to hear about how the league hates the Canucks again.
-I thought that Zack Kassian had himself another strong game, which has been an upward trend since the game in Buffalo last week. He looks confident out there, and he’s letting his unique combination of size and skill shine. I’ve long said that his passing and vision are underrated, and now that he has incorporated some patience into his game, he is making things happen.
There was one shift in particular where he put it all on display and scored a goal on the doorstep, which was waved off because of that darn Mike Santorelli, who keeps goal-blocking his teammates. He played a season high 16+ minutes (playing a large chunk of his minutes with Higgins and Santorelli after Hansen went down), and was on the ice for 19 shot attempts for vs. only 9 against. Very encouraging signs.
-It was a fairly even game in terms of shot attempts, though the Canucks were definitely the better team at 5v5. Obviously the fact that the Islanders scored 2 goals on the power play (and another with the extra attacker) made up for that, while the Canucks once again only had 2 measly power play opportunities. I’ll probably write more about this worrisome trend in the coming days.
-Roberto Luongo probably had himself the best .875 save% game in the history of all .875 save% games. He did give up 4 goals, but he also made some remarkable stops. If you don’t believe me, ask Thomas Hickey..
Highlight of the Night
Here’s a save Roberto Luongo made on Thomas Hickey tonight:
.. annnnd here’s Cory Schneider, who didn’t have that much fun tonight:
Both .GIFs are via The Sporting News.
And finally, I asked my followers to come through with a GIF of Henrik Sedin doing the "Disbelief Dance" after being whistled for his 3rd minor penalty of the night. They didn’t disappoint (s/t to @keithisonfire):