Perhaps there was a reason the Canucks let Radim Vrbata go, after all. In a game with significant draft lottery implications, the Canucks and Arizona Coyotes squared off in the desert in the biggest tank battle since at least 1943. The former Canuck shined, netting two goals and an assist as the Coyotes triumphed 4-3. More importantly, however, the win vaulted the Coyotes ahead of the Canucks in the overall NHL standings. Arizona has played one more contest (but some might say it even holds a game in hand), and the Canucks will finish the season with a weekend home-and-home with the Edmonton Oilers. As a result, the Canucks will (cough) control its destiny in attempting to secure the second-best draft lottery odds.


Game Highlights

Canuck draftists got an early boost when noted offensive dynamo Luke Schenn pounced on a loose rebound in front of Ryan Miller. The goal also happened to be his first in 100 games, and the 51st time this season the Canucks have surrendered the first goal.

The Canucks would fight back, however, evening the score less than two minutes later on a mid-air effort by Nikolay Goldobin. The Sedins would work the puck out of the cycle before Goldobin batted a floating puck past Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue.

Early in the middle frame, former Canucks sniper Radim Vrbata would pot home a rebound off the end boards to once again give the Coyotes the lead.

The Coyotes would double their lead on a beautiful passing play with the man advantage. Vrbata would find Max Domi in the slot, who would one-touch the puck over to Alex Goligoski at the right point. The blueliner would immediately find Alex Burmistrov at the far side of the goal, leaving the Russian with an easy tap-in.

Later in the second period, on yet another power play, Radim Vrbata would continue padding his stats agains his former team with his second goal of the game.

After that rather pedestrian period, the Canucks got one back early in the third on the power play. The marksman? None other than budding Canuck star Brock Boeser. After a deft kick pass from Henrik Sedin, Boeser roofed the puck home from a sharp angle. Sweet hands.

A few minutes after Max Domi would shoot high and wide on a penalty shot, keeping the Coyotes lead at 4-2, Daniel Sedin would fire home a laser post-and-in to bring the Canucks within one.

The Canucks would press late with Ryan Miller pulled, but would be unable to equalize as the Coyotes skated away with the 4-3 victory.

Game Notes

-This game was actually a fairly entertaining affair, probably more so than it had any right to be. There were plenty of scoring chances, several posts, and even a penalty shot. The Canucks even nearly pulled off a third period comeback.

-Nikolay Goldobin once again lined up alongside the Sedins, and the line looked downright dangerous – especially in the first period. Henrik picked up 3 assists on the evening, Daniel a goal and an assist, and Goldobin a goal. Although the trio actually struggled possession-wise on the evening – being the only Canuck forwards not named Griffen Molino to control under 50% of shot attempts at even-strength – they demonstrated excellent chemistry and creativity. It was nice to see the Sedins play with a skilled winger for a change. Henrik, for his part, is not giving up the Sedins’ decade long ownership of the Cyrus H. McLean trophy easily. His three assists moved him to within three points of the slumping Bo Horvat, who still holds the tie-breaker with more goals.

-One day, the Canucks will utilize Boeser as the right-shot trigger man from the left side on the power play. He dominated that area in college, and from his goal tonight there is every indication he could do likewise at the NHL level. That was a goal-scorers goal, as they say.

-Sven Baertschi left the game in the third period with a suspected injury. Nothing confirmed at this point, however.

Next Game

Saturday, April 8 vs Edmonton @ 7 pm PST. TV: CBC; Radio: TSN 1040

  • Jimjamg

    As clutch a loss as you will ever see. Really the Canucks were the better team, and hit a number of posts as well as dominating the first and third periods, but managed to hold on for the loss. I’m not a tankist but at this point who cares, let’s go low.

  • TD

    I thought Baertschi looked fast tonight, right up to the injury. They are going to top 450 man games lost to injury.

    I wanted the Coyotes to score one or two more so that I could cheer the Canucks on…

    • defenceman factory

      Why is it Benning is criticized for not tanking and then when he is nailing how to tank he is criticized for having a bad team? You wanted a bad team and now you have it. Goals by Boeser and Goldy, Demko has been playing well, a few more decent prospects in the works and a high draft pick on the way. Could be a lot worse. He could be planning a Mats Sundin comeback.

  • Oli

    Clutch loss. I’m really glad this was played in Arizona, because otherwise Vancouver would have outdone Buffalo 2015. While it’s legit, that would suck for the players.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    They said it couldn’t be done, but deep down I believed. My faith was rewarded and Canucks now hold 29th place. Now they just need to close out the final 2 games the way I know they can and I can be a happy fan.

  • Bud Poile

    The Nucks currently have 8 vets and Rodin out with injuries.
    Vancouver have lost the most man games to injuries in the league this season-by a large margin.
    The obvious tank allowed kids to debut,vets to heal and gives the club a good shot at selecting Hank’s replacement.
    With the infusion of youth (while 8 vets rest for next season} the club has depth and options for trade purposes.

    • Dirk22

      8 vets! Yes they’re really needing Gudbranson out there to stabilize things and Dorsett out there to show some ‘balls.’ Stop making excuses Bud and for once, admit that your saviour GM has been a complete failure. Just think we could be in the exact same position (29th) without have traded a single asset. But at least the kids are learning how to be competitive right?

      There’s a difference between having a lot of bad players and ‘depth.’ We’re about to enter Year 4 of the Benning Plan (if he’s still here) – this is when he wanted to be among the ‘elite’ teams in the league (his words). Truth is they’ll be as bad or worse next year than this – which again, probably won’t be the worst thing long term for the franchise.

      Obvious tank?! Are you implying they’re resting healthy players? Don’t they have a business to run? Kind of painted yourself in a corner, hey Bud?

  • TheRealPB

    I simply can’t watch the games anymore — not because they are not entertaining but because I know logically that they should lose to better their odds. But there’s no way I can actually watch a Canucks game and hope they don’t win — I can sort of do it from the distance of watching highlights or the score the next day. It’s meant that I haven’t watched the last ten-fifteen games for three of the past four seasons and therein lies the real danger of tanks and sucking for so long. When you can’t even keep committed fans’ eyes on the screen you will eventually lose them (and I’ve seen that with some of my friends who neither go to games nor watch them anymore). And when you’re a fanbase as fickle as Vancouver’s that’s a dangerous game to play.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    One point to correct, you say that Arizona has played one fewer game, but they’ve actually played one more. Had the Canucks won, the Coyotes would have locked up 29th overall. They may still finish there if we get any points vs Edmonton to close the season.

  • Rodeobill

    Wow. This game was awesome. It was wierd. To be honest, I have 2 canucks fans inside of me lately… One who watched the games and is always rooting for the win during it, and the other afterward rooting for the tank in retrospect. This is the first game where I found myself actually muttering cheers for the goals against during the actual game, but after the 3 goal lead, I was all on board to get the score up to “close but not winning.”
    This game had everything except a goal from boucher or stecher. If that happened, I would dare say it was the perfect scenario. The Sedin line really looked like a true first line again with Goldobin – this is good for all involved and not involved. The Sedins need someone like that on their line to get open and thus utilize their chemestry and hard work in the offensive zone and drive it home (kind of like Vrbata once did for a while), and opposing teams will start against them (thus taking the load off the bo bear boes line) AND they are great and supportive mentors for a kid with Goldy’s talent.

    Speaking of Boeser, minus a giveaway or two, he continues to shine on that line with Bo and Baer. Even without the puck and matched up against the best they had, that line still provided lots to get excited about. Not even to mention the power play savy the kid has. He has a Ovie/Laine gift to some degree with a hockey sense in other areas too.

    Tryamkin squashed some dudes. Stech made some moves. We are probably drafting better after this game, the planets were in alignment for this game.

    Also Sutter put too much grit and balls on some Coyote’s wood (phrasing?) and got penalized for doing the exact thing he criticised Goldy for not. Don’t you get the sense that the Wheel of Karma has turned full and all is well with the universe.

    PLUS… the Coyotes are a team I kinda feel for. A few old dudes hanging it out with some scrappy up and comers, sound familiar?

  • Locust

    So where are all the “tools” that called out Sutter and Miller for yanking Goldobin’s chain and telling him he had to be tougher and play better…….

    • Freud

      Firstly, Miller reportedly did the opposite. Secondly, Goldobin was moved from Sutter’s wing and suddenly played better. Which theory do we think is more plausible. I’ve been yanking your chain and your performance is getting worse. Hmmmmm.

      • Locust

        Nice try pencilneck.
        I’m sure you have been doing lots of yanking but its got nothing to do with me … unless you go that way.
        To refresh, both Sutter and Miller called Goldy out and told him to man up – and he did. Not that you’d understand what that would mean or entail.

        • Freud

          At the end of a short practice, Ryan Miller and Nikolay Goldobin took a knee at centre ice Monday and had a long discussion. Some sage advice for the impressionable kid from the wily veteran?

          “I just thought he looked good today and he looked like he needed somebody to tell him he was good,” said the Vancouver Canucks goalie.

        • Freud

          Now let’s get down to why you have some strong need here to assure us you are filled with masculinity, testosterone and that you’ve played the game before.

        • Dirk22

          Pencilneck? Easy there Biff Tanner.

          As we all know, actions speak louder than words. Sutter can talk about balls until he’s blue (no pun intended) in the face but until he actually shows something resembling a checking line center, Goldy has nothing to learn from this guy. Yeah, he’s a great Canadian farm kid blah, blah, blah…..if his name didn’t end in Sutter but was Sutterov or something of that ilk I wonder how he’d be portrayed. Oh, an Miller didn’t do anything resembling calling him out – do you understand what that means or entails?

  • apr

    Arizona played Domingue; clearly last night was not their first tank rodeo. Give Miller and his family Disneyworld tickets, and put Bachman in back to back with a “change-up” in between games.

  • wojohowitz

    A couple of other points. Botch mentions the last minute time out giving the Yotes players a breather. What was Willie thinking? Who led the Canucks in PP time? Sutter with the 7 PP points on the season. Again what was Willie thinking; What hasn`t worked all season will now start working.