After every Canuck fans worst nightmare came true Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, the Vancouver Canucks had to play their first game with Elias Pettersson out with an injury tonight versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. With a mini 2 game win streak as a reward for their great play in the state of Florida, it would take some role players to step up if the Canucks had any chance of pulling out a win against Sidney Crosby and the rest of a talented Penguins lineup.
The Canucks sure looked like they came ready to play this evening, starting off with a great chance from Boeser a minute in only to get robbed by Pittsburgh starter Casey DeSmith. After losing their young star player the game before, it was a pleasant surprise to see this team fight back and look strong early in the hockey game.
However, after a strong opening 6 minutes from the Canucks, the Penguins would strike. A Canucks 2 on 1 would be thwarted, and the Penguins would get an odd-man rush of their own right after. Jake Guentzel came in with the puck and fired a shot under the arm of Anders Nilsson to give the Pens a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game.
Fun fact: Jake Guentzel has scored in every game he's ever played against the Canucks (6 goals in 5 games). ? pic.twitter.com/dB7Raj9JAI
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2018
The boys in white didn’t back down after the Penguins goal, and 3 minutes later would tie the hockey game up at 1. The 4th line would create havoc in front of the Penguins net, and it’d be Ben Hutton receiving the puck from Markus Granlund and putting it home for his first goal of the season, and first goal for him in 77 NHL games.
Hutton's first of the season ties the game 1-1 midway through the 1st. pic.twitter.com/S3w4qomCPp
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 16, 2018
The rest of the 1st period was tightly contested, with the Canucks keeping up and at times looking better than the Penguins. After a great save by Nilsson on Crosby, it would be the Canucks’ 4th line again wreaking havoc on the Pens. This time, it’d be Tim Schaller throwing a great cross-ice feed to a wide-open Brandon Sutter, who’d deposit the puck into the open cage to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead with only a minute to go in the 1st. A lead they’d hold onto going into the 2nd period.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 16, 2018
After a great first period by the Canucks, they came out early in the second and tried to extend their lead instead of letting the Penguins try to dictate play. Antoine Roussel hit the post on a shot that beat DeSmith clean only a minute in and it looked like the Canucks were going to make Pittsburgh pay again. Couple minutes later, Nilsson would have to be sharp on a redirected shot from Matt Cullen. The first 4-minute sequence of play would end with Alex Edler batting the puck out of the air with his stick and into the seats, giving the Penguins their first power-play opportunity of the evening.
The Vancouver Canucks penalty kill would go to work without one of their key killers in Jay Beagle, but it wouldn’t matter as the Canucks would kill off the Penguins first (spoiler alert, only) power-play opportunity of the game.
Nothing notable would occur for the next 5 minutes as both teams continued battling. Finally, a little scuffle between Jake Virtanen and Penguins defender Juuso Riikola would see both players receive coincidental minor penalties, setting up some 4 on 4. The ensuing 4 on 4 opportunities would provide some entertainment, and with 2 seconds to go, we’d see the save of the game after DeSmith absolutely robs Sven Baertschi and then Markus Granlund on the 4 on 4 chances.
There would be no additional scoring through the remainder of the 2nd period. Both teams were battling hard on every shift, and we’d go into the 3rd period with the Canucks still ahead by 1.
More of the same to begin the 3rd, as the first 5 minutes of play. The Canucks were doing an excellent job of playing with the lead, while the Penguins pushed for the equalizer.
6 minutes in, a great feed from Nikolay Goldobin found Ben Hutton, and he ripped a shot over the shoulder of DeSmith but off the crossbar.
Fast forwarding our way through a hard-fought 3rd period, the next notable bit of action would be the Penguins who found a way to tie up the hockey game. After a great Jake Virtanen rush into the Penguins zone, he’d cough the puck up passing the puck back to the blueline and Phil Kessel would pick it up for the Pens. A 2 on 1 would ensue, and it’d be Kessel feeding Carl Hagelin with a beautiful feed through the legs of Gudbranson to lead to an easy tap-in tying the game at 2.
Speed. Speed. Speed.
? GAME-TYING GOAL! ? pic.twitter.com/gQ6bjoqGQf
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 17, 2018
After the goal, this game would be furious to the end of the 3rd. Notice I didn’t say the end of the game? That’s cause this game would head to some 3 on 3 overtime.
It would only take 34 seconds for the game to be decided, and it’d be decided with a slick shot from number 6 in white and blue. Brock Boeser comes down the ice and unleashes a beautiful shot past the arm of DeSmith to give the Canucks their 3rd straight win on the road.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 17, 2018
In a game where the Canucks were down their best offensive weapon, the role players came through when they needed them. Down below are a couple of key contributors from tonight’s gutsy win.
After a questionable goal on the 1st shot he faced, Nilsson shut the door and back-stopped the team with his 3rd quality game in a row to give them the confidence to come back, and hold the lead. Although he was eventually beat a 2nd time, he had no chance on the 2 on 1 and played a great game. Can’t state enough how Nilsson was great tonight, and he’s been great for 3 straight games. As long as he continues to play well, the net should be his.
Derrick Pouliot, Troy Stecher, and Ben Hutton are all defensemen who the Canucks are expecting bigger things from after a year in which they all went through ups and downs. Tonight, all 3 of these guys looked like legit NHL defensemen. Stecher had another strong game and continued his strong play to begin the year. Derrick Pouliot had another strong showing tonight in his own end, breaking up a few rushes and making good decisions with the puck. Then there’s Ben Hutton, who looked to be playing with a ton of confidence tonight. Made a smart play to jump up in the rush that led to a goal, and nearly had his 2nd of the game if he shot an inch lower. Also made some great plays rushing the puck up the ice with his skating, and was solid in his own end. Great game tonight from the trifecta of young defensemen.
The line of Tim Schaller, Markus Granlund, and Tyler Motte tonight had themselves a game. They were in the Penguins zone quite a bit on a majority of their shifts and made life hell for the Penguins defense. They knew they had to step up, and they did just that. Schaller also set up Sutter with a beautiful backdoor feed to help give the Canucks the lead, while Granlund had a great helper on Hutton’s first goal in over a year.
Adam Gaudette made his regular season debut tonight, and in limited ice time didn’t look out of place. He made a couple of nice plays, and in particular had a nice rush which led to a chance, but wasn’t able to factor into the scoresheet. While he won’t light the lamp as Pettersson does, he’s an important piece moving forward and it’s good to see him getting the first call-up with Beagle out long term. A good start for him tonight, and someone to watch moving forward.
That’s all for tonight, great job by the Canucks to win their 3rd straight. After all the dread that was surrounding this team prior to the road trip, they’ve passed the test so far.