Happy Loui Eriksson resurgence day, everyone!
The Vancouver Canucks came into their Sunday night matchup with the hint of a turnaround in the air.
The team had dropped five straight after trouncing the Corey Crawford-less Chicago Blackhawks on December 28th, but showed they were back in business on Friday with a heady 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
They certainly didn’t make this an easy one – but after
sixty sixty-three minutes of action, the seasoned veterans would come out on top with a win all their own.
FINAL SCORE: VANCOUVER CANUCKS 3 (OT), MINNESOTA WILD 2
Loui Eriksson ties it up for the #Canucks. God knows he needed that one.
🌲 1 – 1 🐳 pic.twitter.com/DGGMEtocs4
— Wave the White Towel (@wavewhitetowel) January 15, 2018
The Canucks got things off on the wrong foot right off the bat, with Jacob Markstrom allowing his first goal of the game just four minutes into play.
A penalty by Sam Gagner at 4:52 put the Canucks on the kill, and Jason Zucker managed to fire one home just five seconds into the power-play. He capitalized on a lightning-fast one timer from right in front of the crease, after a quick pass from Granlund on the point, up to Mikko Koivu just behind the goal line, pulled the Canucks just enough away from Zucker to leave him open and lethal. Koivu’s centering pass found Zucker easily, and the power-play specialist didn’t hesitate to put one behind the Canucks starter to go up by a goal early on.
The Wild wouldn’t hold their lead for long, though, as the first of the trio of Canucks vet players to score found the back of the net.
Loui Eriksson has been a bit of a dud since arriving in Vancouver last fall, and this season has been little exception. He’d put up just five goals heading into Sunday’s contest, and he’ll finish yet another season without a full 82-game slate.
He gave Dubnyk a taste of the Wild’s own medicine a little over 10 minutes after Zucker scored, though, when he one-timered a centering pass of his own to even up the score at 16:57 of the first.
He and the twins have been secondary figures this season, but their turnaround to head back up the ice towards the Wild net looked sharp – and like the goal scored on Vancouver earlier in the period, the lightning-fast centering pass and one-timer by Eriksson made it hard to blame Dubnyk much for letting the Canucks even things up.
All in all, this was a reasonably dull game by both sides, and the second period was a perfect example.
Neither side would take a single penalty after the first period, and neither would have a clear advantage in the second or third frames in shots – either attempted or registered on net. Vancouver came out slightly ahead in the second period with nine shots to Minnesota’s six, but that was evened out a bit by the fact that Michael Del Zotto and Erik Gudbranson allowed shots against pretty much every time they stepped out onto the ice.
The Wild had a nasty habit during their Mike Yeo era of playing the most boring, by-the-book games of hockey I’ve ever seen in my life. Apparently, it came back tonight.
Finally, some goals!
Daniel Winnik (who is apparently on the Minnesota Wild this year – who knew?) would pull the Wild ahead about 12 minutes into the final frame, taking advantage of yet another centering pass from behind the net.
Eric Staal would walk Erik Gudbranson to lose his coverage, then pass the puck back out to Winnik to give the journeyman his fifth goal of the season.
The Canucks deserve plenty of credit, though; just a few minutes later, the Boeser-Vanek-Gagner line would get some excellent help from Chris Tanev to tie the game up at two goals apiece.
Sam Gagner would fire on net from the point, where Vanek did as he does best and scooped up the rebound to put it past a flustered Devan Dubnyk.
From there, no one would manage to score again in regulation, and to overtime we go!
Brandon Sutter has been back with the Canucks for exactly one game, so I’m not ready to fire up the hype train just yet.
But heading into the team’s bye week, you’ve gotta love the guy for giving the team a win!
It was a beautiful pass up the ice by Alex Edler, a beautiful dance around the defender by Sutter, and a nifty shot that Dubnyk probably could have gotten a piece of, but didn’t. What a welcome back, eh?
Have you ever been a big fan of a player, and then seen something about their family that makes you like them even more?
This is me with Brock Boeser, literally every time his parents are given the opportunity to grace the screen.
His parents are the kind of people that make me think of freshly-baked cookies after school and plaid blankets by the fire. They seem like the nicest people in the world, which only adds to just how easy it is to be a fan of Boeser both on and off the ice.
I won’t harp too much on the Michael Del Zotto – Erik Gudbranson pairing, because there’s enough of that floating around elsewhere. We know what they are, we know how they’ve been playing.
I will say, though, that it’s especially frustrating to watch Del Zotto perform like this, because I was a big fan of his in Philadelphia and considered him a dynamite pick-up by Benning over the summer. I’ve been critical of some of his moves so far, but this is one that I applauded to begin with – and ironically enough, it’s one of the ones I’ve been the most disappointed with whenever I catch a Canucks game. He looks lost, and that’s not what I remember seeing in Philadelphia (which, really, says a lot, because that’s a blue line that sometimes can’t buy a clue).
On the bright side, though, I thought Markstrom played well. He allowed the first goal of the game, but Zucker on the power-play has seemed near impossible to stop in any of the games I’ve seen him play – against anyone. It’s like he has zero hesitation and an innate ability to have his stick exactly where it needs to be for a one-timer on the man advantage; it’s hard to blame Markstrom for something that I’ve seen quite a few goalies fall for this year.
I also like what I’ve seen from Thomas Vanek. He is what he is, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon.
But for a guy who started off the season unsure if he’d be a regular in the lineup or not, second in scoring to only Brock Boeser is a pretty nice place to be.
Is part of that from playing with a guy like Boeser? Of course. Not only is Boeser an elite-level scorer, but he’s got great playmaking ability, to boot.
Despite that, there’s nothing Thomas Vanek does better than score goals, and he’s certainly been doing that for the Canucks. Does he give them much in the way of defense? No. Were they expecting that? Probably. So is it fine? I’m sure it is.
Overall, that was pretty much the kind of game Minnesota loves to play; boring as sin. But Vancouver managed to beat the Wild at their own game, and how can we be upset about that?