The new look New York Rangers were in town Wednesday night. The Rangers weren’t the only team with a new look, though, as deadline acquisitions Tyler Motte and Brendan Leipsic made their Canuck debuts.
Jacob Markstrom made his third straight start in goal for the Canucks, coming off playing back-to-back Sunday against Arizona, and in Colorado on Monday night.
Making his Canuck debut, Leipsic started for the Canucks on a line with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. It’s a huge opportunity for Leipsic, and his skill set is very complimentary when paired with Horvat and Boeser. A speedy, tenacious winger, he drives opponents nuts and is a good playmaker. On paper, it looks like a great fit.
The trend of goals early and often in Canucks games recently continued tonight. Less than a minute and a half into the game it was 1-0 New York.
After icing was oddly waived off, Jesper Fast pinned Ben Hutton to the boards preventing him from clearing the puck. Kevin Hayes picked up the loose puck behind the net; Hayes then puts an innocent looking enough wrap around on net. Despite its innocence, the first shot of the game somehow eluded Markstrom.
Twenty-seven seconds later, the Rangers struck again. This time there wasn’t much Markstrom could do as Jimmy Vesey beautifully deflected a heavy point shot past him to make it 2-0.
The Rangers third shot wasn’t a goal. But it did elicit a Bronx cheer from a restless Rogers Arena crowd.
As the game settled in, Leipsic started to do his thing. First tipping Derrick Pouliot’s point shot on goal, the followed up on his next shift taking a pass from Erik Gudbranson across the blueline, Leipsic dragged the puck and fired a dangerous shot over Henrik Lundqvist. Early returns on Leipsic with Boeser and Horvat appeared promising.
Quite a first period for the #Canucks new first line
On Ice Shot Differential
— Darryl Keeping (@dkeeping) March 1, 2018
With 7:31 left in the first, the Rangers struck again. Once again Neal Pionk had his point shot (this time a wrister) tipped in front, this time by Hayes for his second of the game. Travis Green had seen enough, and Anders Nilsson came in to relieve Markstrom.
The Canucks responded less than two minutes later; the Horvat line had their best shift of the period deep in the Rangers zone. Late in the shift, the Horvat made a great pass through the seam to find Boeser back door. Boeser made no mistake, potting his 28th of the year.
With Jesper Fast sitting for high-sticking, Hayes nearly had a 1st-period hattrick. He picked off Daniel Sedin’s pass at the blueline and was off to the races.
A poke check at one end… pic.twitter.com/G759JPO2HN
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) March 1, 2018
Nilsson poke checked Hayes, and the Canucks quickly turned the puck up ice. Once they gained the zone, Henrik found Daniel cutting to the net. Daniel deflected the pass on net, and with Lundqvist unable to handle the rebound, Bo Horvat picked up his second point of the period. Bringing the Canucks to within one.
The Canucks were shorthanded early in the second, with Alex Edler heading to the box just twenty-three seconds into the period.
With his team shorthanded, Nilsson made some saves early in the period to keep the Canucks in the game as they killed off the penalty.
The Canucks got going midway through the period, with Hutton being one of the more noticeable Canucks on the ice. He was aggressive offensively, carrying the puck up the ice and getting pucks on net all night.
After Jake Virtanen rushed the puck deep into the New York zone, Sven Baertschi was stopped point blank. Sam Gagner and his linemates kept the Rangers hemmed in their own end for an extended period as momentum started to swing in Vancouver’s favour.
A few shifts later, the Canucks cashed in, tying the game up at three. Daniel Sedin found brother Henrik coming off the bench and fed a cross-ice pass to him. Henrik then centred the puck for Michael Del Zotto who joined the rush and went to the net. The pass was deflected, but it happened that it came right to Daniel in the high slot. Daniel quickly fired a slapshot which beat Henrik Lundqvist five-hole.
Four minutes later, the Rangers took the lead once again. Playing in his first game with the Rangers after being the centrepiece heading back to New York in a trade deadline blockbuster, Vladislav Namestinokov scored his first goal as a blue shirt.
The Twins got a little too cute at the blueline, trying to feather one too many passes to each other. Namestnikov stripped Henrik Sedin, who was the last man back, of the puck. Namestnikov made no mistake on the breakaway going five-hole on Anders Nilsson.
It was the Gagner, Virtanen, Baertschi line again building momentum early in the third for Vancouver. Sam Gagner took a pass in the slot from Jake Virtanen, and the puck eventually found it’s way to Sven Baertschi to the left of Henrik Lundqvist. Baertschi was being tied up and couldn’t get a stick on the puck; otherwise, we got a tie game again.
With Leipsic in the box for a questionable slashing call, Anthony DeAngelo went down rather easily about to turn the puck over in front of his own goalie; Motte had a standout shift on the penalty kill. Using his speed to get in on the forecheck Motte harassed the Rangers deep in their own end. Eventually turning the puck over, and pinning it against the boards; drawing rave reviews for the Canucks faithful in the building.
In an odd turn of events, Lundqvist then took three pucks off the mask in the span of a couple of minutes. The last of which was obviously an intentional save made with his helmet.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) March 1, 2018
With just over ten minutes left in the third frame, Mikka Zibanejad was sent off for slashing. A minute later, Vancouver went up 5-on-3 due to another Rangers slashing call.
With two extra men, the Canucks went to work, creating several chances as they continued to pour shots on net all night long. Most notable was Sam Gagner being robbed twice by Lundqvist, as King Henrik kept his team in front.
With the second unit on the ice finish up the Canucks powerplay, Nikolay Goldobin took a fantastic pass by new Canucks Brendan Leipsic right through the seam. Goldobin looked to the heavens in relief, as he finally gets on the board with Travis Green giving him a real opportunity alongside the Sedin’s.
Unfortunately for Goldobin, his relief would be short-lived. Two and a half minutes later, Goldobin was front and centre for another goal. This time for the wrong reasons, as he turned the puck over with a careless neutral zone pass. Zibanejad scored his second of the game with a great finish in tight on Nilsson.
My biggest issue with Goldobin on this play isn’t the turnover itself which isn’t great. But the commitment from Goldobin to get back and redeem himself is lacking. He needs to put his head down, and come back as hard as he can on Zibanejad and try to break up the play. Instead, he’s a step behind and unable to affect the play, and the Canucks are down again.
I’m a staunch Goldobin supporter and have campaigned for him to see more ice. But efforts like that are why NHL coaches are hesitant to play him; it’s a risk-averse business. Unless you’re undeniable offensively and piling up the points, exp: Boeser, finding a regular spot in the lineup is tough with these types of efforts.
With Nilsson on the bench, the Canucks pressed to tie the game up late. Leipsic was front and centre once again, as he had a pair of chances late to tie it up.
With 47 seconds left, it was Leipsic again finding Brock Boeser with another pass through the middle of the ice. Boeser then made a great move to pull the puck around the defender and fire short side for his second of the night, sending the game to overtime.
The Canucks had their opportunities in overtime, with you guessed it, Leipsic and Boeser front and centre. Unable to finish the Rangers got their chance going the other way.
Ryan Spooner, another player, playing for a new team post-deadline, skated the puck the length of the ice. Just as he appeared to be taking the puck behind the net, he chipped it across the front of the net. Finding defencemen John Gilmour, who one-timed a band angle shot high short side before Nilsson could come across.
6-5 Rangers, final score.
- 5-on-5 the Canucks had 56.51% of the expected goals
- The Canucks controlled 63% of 5v5 shot attempts
- Leipsic and Boeser led the way with 8 and nine shot attempts each. Leipsic also had a game-high seven shots on goal
- The Canucks unload a whopping 16 high danger shots on Henrik Lundqvist, who despite giving up five goals outperformed his expected save percentage and GSAA
- With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, we saw a seemingly more relaxed and confident Ben Hutton. It’s been a tough season for the young defenseman facing the first adversity of this pro career. With trade talk now tabled at least for now, hopefully, Hutton can find the form that had so many excited about his upside.
- Newly acquired Brendan Leipsic was a standout from the time the puck dropped in this one. The shift forward used his speed well and was creating chances nearly everytime he stepped on the ice. The tenacity and hustle he plays with is refreshing, and something certain other young Canucks could learn from.
- Daniel Sedin continues his renaissance as of late, scoring his 20th goal of the season tonight, after topping out at 15 last year. If this is the swan song for the Twins, it’s great to see them playing their best hockey of the last two years down the stretch.
- The Canucks had a season-high 55 shots on goal against the Rangers. The team record is 62, set back in 1991 against these same New York Rangers.