The Canucks and the game, in general, got off to a fairly slow start against Colorado on Tuesday night. It took Vancouver until the 13-minute mark of the period to register their first shot on goal.
With Jacob Markstrom still out with a “tweak” according to Canucks general manager Jim Benning, it was once again Anders Nilsson in goal for the Canucks. Lost in Saturday’s big win against Boston was how well Nilsson played. Despite the score, Boston drastically outshot Vancouver to in the first period 18-9.
Nilsson feeling it. Plays shot off blocker, gathers himself and calmly stops hot Compher shot in slot. #Canucks
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) February 21, 2018
Shortly after that Nathan McKinnon was called for holding giving Vancouver the games first man advantage. The power play didn’t score, but it looked good and appeared to have the Canucks building momentum as Colorado had carried the bulk of the play in the first.
But less than two minutes later, the Canucks would be the ones finding themselves shorthanded. Brock Boeser was called for a high stick on Avs defenceman Tyson Barrie — two names to keep an eye on in this one.
The game remained scoreless through the first period. The Canucks best chance came with 37 seconds left. Loui Eriksson worked the puck back to the point, the defenceman fired it on goal just as fast as he got it. Parked right in front battling for position, Darren Archibald deflected the puck down and just wide.
Twenty seconds later, it was Archibald again creating havoc in front, this time Alexander Edler unloaded a slap shot from the point, but Semyon Varlamov made the save.
Archibald picked up right where he left off in the first, but this time he didn’t miss. Eriksson and Brandon Sutter did the dirty work on this one, gaining possession down low on the forecheck. Then from his knees, Sutter one-handed the puck to Archibald in front who opened the scoring. 1-0.
From there on the game settled into a similar pace until nearly the 11-minute mark of the period. Then all hell broke loose.
Barrie let a wrister fly from the point, and though Anders Nilsson appeared to get most of it, the puck trickled through and across the line tieing it up at one.
With Avs forward Colin Wilson serving a high-sticking penalty, the Canucks took their second lead of the game just over two minutes later. With Thomas Vanek parked in front of Varlamov, Nikolay Goldobin’s shot ticked of Patrik Nemeth and beat Varlamov high glove side.
Fifty-one seconds later, Goldobin forced a neutral zone turnover, sending himself and Sutter in on a two-on-one. Sutter kept all the way and Varlamov was again beaten high glove side. 3-1.
A minute and a half later it was 4-1. Boeser made a nice read and intercepted a Colorado pass behind their own goal; he centred the puck for Sven Baertschi who had his stick lifted and couldn’t connect with the puck, but Bo Horvat following up the play was in the right place to pick up the errant pass, picking up his 16th goal of the year.
Following Vancouver’s offensive outburst, Michael Del Zotto took an ill-advised and blatant cross-checking penalty, as he put his stick right across the numbers of Alex Kerfoot’s jersey, burying him into the boards.
Now on the power play, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen beat Anders Nilsson post and in from the face-off dot.
40 seconds later it was back to the penalty kill for the Canucks. Vanek nearly got loose on a breakaway but had a couple Colorado players draped all over him and didn’t get a shot off. Clearly frustrated, Vanek swung his stick taking a bad penalty 200 ft from his net born of frustration.
Back on the power-play, it didn’t take Colorado long to make it a one-goal game. Walking in from the left circle, Nathan Mackinnon put a nifty pass through the traffic in the slot, finding captain Gabriel Landeskog backdoor. 4-3.
The Canucks were back on the power-play early in the third due to a Nikita Zadorov interference penalty, after a hit he threw on Sutter away from the puck. The Avalanche killed off the penalty keeping it a one-goal game.
Nursing a one-goal lead, the Canucks sat back and did their best to fend off the Colorado attack. With six and a half minutes left, the shots were 9-2 in favour of the Avalanche.
But the real story of the period was Boeser’s wrist — the one he had surgically repaired, and recently injured in a game against Tampa Bay.
Boeser took a solid check from Zadorov late in the third and could be seen trying to shake out his wrist on the bench clearly bothered by it. His wrist was also heavily tapped.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) February 21, 2018
Disconcerting to say the least. With the season all but decided it begs the question as to why he’s playing through it. Chasing the Calder yes, but with it being the same wrist he’s had surgically repaired previously; I’d be taking every precaution possible. He’s the future of the team, and the thinking should be about his long-term health and not short-term accolades.
Boeser gets and wincing on the bench… His shot clearly isn't there.. Wonder if it'll heal by season's end, or if he just waits till offseason
— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) February 21, 2018
With three minutes left, once again on the power-play, Colorado tied the game up at four.
The Avs worked the puck around, then down low to Landeskog at the side of the net, who moved it back up to Rantanen. Rantanen then sets up Barrie for the one-timer. Eriksson was left getting out to the point, and couldn’t take away the shooting lane as Barrie wired it past Nilsson.
TYSON BARRIE TIES IT AT 4 LATE FOR THE AVS! pic.twitter.com/tZ689q1xJD
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) February 21, 2018
Overtime saw the team’s trade chances three-on-three. With Vancouver getting the better of the exchanges early on, Eriksson got in behind the Colorado defence and in tight nearly pulled off the “Forsberg move”, while Sutter walked out from the corner taking the puck cross-crease but Varlamov sealed to post, preventing the winning goal.
With 1:37 left in overtime, the dreaded Avalanche power-play was back to work. No thanks to what appeared to be a pretty blatant dive by Tyson Jost as he latched onto Daniel Sedin’s stick; Daniel was called for hooking.
On the power-play, Barrie went back to work setting up Nathan Mackinnon for a nasty one-timer, picking up his fifth point of the game.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) February 21, 2018
The Canucks finished the night at just 17% on the penalty-kill as Colorado went 5-for-6 with the extra man.
Final score 5-4 Colorado.
- Boeser picked up his 50th point of the year. With his shooting percentage coming back to the realm of Earth’s atmosphere, Boeser has predictably slowed down. But the rookie All-Star has remained productive and is now just two points back of last years team leading 52.
- Derrick Pouliot has four points in his last five games and is now just two points back of Michael Del Zotto for second in scoring among Canucks defencemen. Pouliot has always possessed a plus-skill set offensively; it’s all about consistency and playing well defensively for Pouliot.
- After seeing improvement in recent weeks, the Canucks penalty kill struggled. They gave up all five goals against on the night while shorthanded. Newly inked Erik Gulbranson was on the ice for three of those five shorthanded goals.
- With two points, Goldobin picked his first career multi-point game. Though still looking timid at times without the puck, Goldobin is at home on offence. He nearly had a third point shortly after picking up his assist, as he fed Nic Down a one-timer across the slot but Dowd was unable to connect.
- Victoria BC native Barrie had five points on the night. Once the fodder of seemingly endless trade rumours, Barrie is once again a staple of the Colorado power-play. He’s a new age, undersized and skilled defender, a representation of the direction the game is going.