For the final time in franchise history, the Vancouver Canucks visited the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Sunday night to face the New York Islanders.
The Coliseum, a concrete blister in the middle of a parking lot in Uniondale, NY, was the site of Vancouver’s losses in Game 1 (an instant classic overtime thriller) and Game 2 of the 1982 Stanley Cup Final – a series in which the overmatched Canucks were ultimately swept by the dynastic Islanders of the early 80s.
So Vancouver’s 4-0 victory over New York’s other, other team on Sunday brought with it a sense of closure, a spot of karmic payback. The reverse sweep as it were. On the other hand, the club lost Ryan Miller to injury, and any crowing about karma at the moment seems misguided in the extreme.
Shot attempt chart
Shot attempt location plot
- Nassau Coliseum isn’t much to look at from the parking lot, but once you’re inside taking in the game, hoo boy. The crowd is savvy and reactive – they regaled their team with loud cheers even when they were down by a wide margin – it’s insanely loud, and the sight lines are perfect. There’s something almost 80s punk rock about the rustic, 8-bit scoreboard and the dilapidated seats. I know one thing for sure: I have to come back as a fan.
- Zack Kassian now has three goals in his last two games playing with the Sedin twins. He was even on the first power-play unit on Sunday, and scored a beauty goal, taking a feed from Radim Vrbata and wiring it past Jaroslav Halak on the blocker side.
- Eye test alert: when the Sedins and Kassian are cycling it like they did in the first period, Kassian looks like the prototypical Sedin twin line-mate.
- Though the Sedins ultimately finished in the red by shot attempt differential, with the score close the Islanders didn’t record a single even-strength shot attempt when they were on the ice. Vancouver managed seven.
- After making a series of difficult saves to smother the potent Islanders attack in the first frame, Miller was injured early in the second period when he was run into by Jannik Hansen. Eddie Lack made several astonishingly good saves in relief to preserve the victory for Miller. Both Canucks goaltenders were coming off of uninspired performances on this New York-area trip, but this was probably the best goaltending the Canucks have received in a single game all season.
- Bo Horvat continued his red hot February, with the game-sealing goal that gave Vancouver a 3-0 lead in the second period. It was the result of some excellent forechecking by Jannik Hansen, and a nice pass from Ronalds Kenins. Horvat also seagull’d a puck on the forecheck in the first and had a quality opportunity. Some of this run that the fourth line is on is definitely the result of good fortune, but increasingly you’re seeing Horvat get a golden opportunity or two per game. That’s a pretty good sign that it’s not just the bounces driving this.
- Dan Hamhuis logged nearly eight minutes of short-handed ice-time, nearly three minutes more than his next closest Canucks teammate. At even-strength he regularly double shifted with both Adam Clendenning and Yannick Weber. It’s fair to say that Hamhuis, who struggled in the fall prior to sustaining a serious groin injury, has stepped up in a major way in the absence of Chris Tanev and Alex Edler.
The Canucks now just need a split in Boston and Buffalo (which shouldn’t be hard) and this will have been a very successful road trip. The big bad Bruins are up first, as they host the Canucks on Tuesday night.