Calder Trophy front-runner and Coquitlam native Mathew Barzal made his hometown debut, taking on fellow Calder candidate Brock Boeser and the Vancouver Canucks.
It didn’t take long for Barzal to make his presence known four minutes in, as he danced Brendan Leipsic, carried the puck around the Canucks net and did a lap in the Vancouver zone.
Shortly after that, Leipsic was headed to the box for hooking. On the ensuing power play, John Tavares took a shot from the right faceoff dot. With Markstrom unable to control the rebound the Islanders poured on the pressure and had the Canucks scrambling in front of their net. Eventually, Erik Gudbranson was able to shovel the puck under Markstrom and get a whistle.
Leipsic’s tough period continued two minutes later. Trying to exit the defensive zone, Leipsic attempted to pass the puck cross-ice to Boeser, and the pass was picked off. The Islanders worked the puck down low, and then back out to Nick Leddy at the point. Leddy let a good shot go from the point, and Markstrom made the save, but was the rebound came right to Josh Bailey at the side of the net. 1-0 NYI.
Unhappy with his team’s slow start, and being outshot 9-2, Markstrom had some words for the Canucks bench. Given Markstrom’s penchant for giving up goals early on in hockey games, I’m not sure how thrilled I’d be about this as a teammate. But his heart is in the right place, trying to get his team going.
“LET’S GO!” pic.twitter.com/GlDlGfIoxh
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) March 6, 2018
Barzal got on the scoresheet later in the period, but not in the way he would have liked. With 6:24 left, Barzal was off the box for slashing after getting tied up with Michael Del Zotto.
Vancouver looked like they were about to have a glorious chance, as Boeser dragged the puck around Brandon Davidson leaving him sprawled out on the ice. But the whistle blew just as Boeser was walking in, and Daniel Sedin was off to the box for tripping.
This would've been beautiful ? pic.twitter.com/oyC3yrYnJq
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) March 6, 2018
Just ten seconds into the ensuing four-on-four, Derrick Pouliot was taken down by Brock Nelson with no call. It was an egregious enough of a non-call, that Henrik Sedin was standing on the bench letting the ref know exactly how he felt.
Leipsic’s eventful night continued to start the second. Less than a minute in he took his second penalty of the game, this time for high-sticking.
While on the penalty-kill, Gudbrason was felled by a Ryan Pulock one time. Pulock possesses one of the most underrated slapshots in the game — it’s as heavy as they come, and it contributed to Gudbranson being trapped on the ice for the length of the kill.
Seven seconds after the penalty expired, with Gudbranson still trapped on the ice, Barzal found Thomas Hickey streaking into the zone off the bench. Hickey made an impressive touch pass to John Tavares, who fired the puck past Markstrom. 2-0 NYI.
The Canucks started to build some momentum midway through the period, in part due to their physicality. Darren Archibald crunched Hickey along the end boards on the forecheck, and proceed to take the puck directly to the net. Jake Virtanen continued his physical play, clipping Barzal on a late hit and following that up with a hard hit on Leddy. Vancouver led in hits 14-6 thirteen minutes into the second, with many being noteworthy.
Travis Green juggled his lines in the second, and the trio of Leipsic, Horvat, and Virtanen got on the board. Horvat made a nifty play between his legs to beat Tavares along the boards. Horvat then worked the puck behind the net to Virtanen, who immediately put the puck out front. With the Islanders unable to corral the loose puck, Leipsic pounced on it for his first goal as a Canuck.
A minute and a half later, Darren Archibald got behind Johnny Boychuk for a breakaway. As Archibald came in on goal, Boychuk got his stick in the hands of Archibald, preventing him from getting a shot off. “The Gooch” was awarded a penalty shot.
The Islanders tried to take back the lead, with their best chance coming from Pulock. Pulock unloaded his heavy clapper once again, and put it right through Markstrom but just wide of the net. The game remained tied at two headed to the third.
The Canucks came out strong in the third, with Virtanen once again creating havoc on the forecheck. This was followed by Jussi Jokinen intentionally icing the puck knowing Bo Horvat was in a position to win a foot race and gain the offensive zone.
Four minutes in Virtanen was at it again, this time on a wrap around. With a head of steam, Virtanen couldn’t quite hook the puck tight enough to beat Jaroslav Halak.
After Brandon Sutter and Archibald nearly converted a 2-on-1, the Islanders pushed back with some zone time of their own. But it was the Canucks who lit the lamp next.
Leipsic chipped the puck past Matt Pelech at the Vancouver blueline. As Pelech gave chase, Virtanen turned on the jets, blowing past Pelech up the middle of the ice. With the lone defender committing to Leipsic, he feathered a pass to the wide-open Virtanen.
With two points, and two penalties already on the night, Leipsic was off to the box again. This time for slashing, with 1:59 left to play in the game, with his team up by one.
On the power play, Tavares’ shot missed the net and hit Jordan Eberle up high. Eberle picked up the puck and put it past Jacob Markstrom who lost his stick coming across on the play. 3-3.
With 27.1 seconds left, Boeser attempted to hit Cal Clutterbuck in front of the Canucks bench. Clutterbuck shrugged off the hit and sent the Canucks’ rookie spinning. Unfortunately for Boeser, the Canucks’ door was open on the bench, and he appeared to clip his lower back and hit it off the open door.
Boeser was clearly in a lot of pain, and the concerned onlookers booed loudly seeing their star rookie laying on the ice. Boeser left the ice with a lot of help and didn’t put any weight on his left leg.
Boeser having an excruciating time trying to get to the locker room ? pic.twitter.com/XgpL4yWuET
— Vanessa Jang (@vanessajang) March 6, 2018
The game picked back up and headed to overtime, where Leipsic played hero for the Canucks, as he stripped Anthony Beauvillier of the puck and waited out Halak to score his second of the game. 4-3 Canucks, final score.
- After having just 34.62% of 5-on-5 shot attempts in the first period, the Canucks finished the night at 50%.
- At 5-on-5 the Canucks had 61.45% of the expected goals.
- The Canucks score all four goals on high danger shots, Vancouver had eight compared to New York’s five on the night.
- Jake Virtanen had a game-high five hits, followed by Archibald and Del Zotto with four each.
- The Boeser injury story looms over this one like a storm cloud. Boeser looked to be in a lot of pain and was unable to put weight on his left leg. With the season nearing a close, it’s hard not to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Boeser this year. It’s also frustrating to see the Canucks staff allow Boeser to leave the ice under his own power with a lower back area injury that appears to have the potential to be serious, especially given what we saw with Mason Raymond in 2011. Shortly after the game according to Iain MacIntyre, a stretcher was seen heading to the Canucks room, and Boeser left Rogers Arena in an ambulance.
- Jake Virtanen was the best player on the ice; he did it all tonight. Led the game in hits with five, turned pucks over on the forecheck, used his speed effectively. Virtanen has a great physical toolbox if he can find a way to be the player we saw tonight consistently he can be a solid NHL player.
- We saw the good and the bad of Brendan Leipsic tonight, and wiery puck hound who’s always involved. He finished the night with three penalties and three points including the game-winning goal in overtime. It worked out for the Canucks tonight, but he was also in the box when Jordan Eberle tied the game up with less than two minutes left. It will be interesting to see just how much leash Green will give Leipsic. He clearly likes the player and has a long history with him, but when the points aren’t piling up how long the leash will be?