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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Postgame: This is how you play yourself into the playoffs as Canucks beat Wild 5-4 in overtime

It was a big night for the Vancouver Canucks as they were in their first series-clinching game since 2011.

The Canucks played for just over 60 minutes as an unlikely goal scorer punched their ticket into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A back and forth game resulted in the Canucks walking away with a 5-4 win in overtime.

The Minnesota Wild were without their top minute muncher Ryan Suter. Suter averaged 24:38 of ice time this season. That is over two minutes more than the next top minute getter for the Wild. This wasn’t the only change to the defence corps as Oscar Fantenberg was out for the Canucks and that meant that it was time for Olli Juolevi to make his NHL debut.

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It’s been a long path for Juolevi to finally see NHL action and Friday night he faced off against NHL competition for the first time. Much more to come on him as the report goes on.

The game was pushed back to an 8 PM puck drop as the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks game ran late. This was a large difference from what we saw on Thursday afternoon when the Canucks game was the first of the NHL schedule that day.

Jacob Markstrom started for the Canucks while the Wild chose to stick with Alex Stalock.

Lines

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Thoughts from Twitter

Twitter was pretty quiet before the game, with the team on the brink of winning this series–fans were keeping their mouths shut.

So I am going to do the same. It’s gametime.

Let’s go!

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First Period

There was another quick fight when Jake Virtanen dropped the gloves with Ryan Hartman just 96 seconds into the game. Both players kept their distance like Bonnie Henry told them to and not a lot of punches were landed.

Another sight we’ve seen before in this series has been Tyler Myers skating to the penalty box. It took him less than three minutes into the game to make his first stop in the box.

After Myers went to the penalty box, the Wild didn’t waste any time. Luke Kunin jammed the puck past Markstrom in tight and the Wild got the extremely valuable first goal of the game. 1-0 Wild.

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It has been a strong series for Loui Eriksson, he played well in the first period. Eriksson drew a penalty that sent the Canucks to their first and only powerplay of the period. Eriksson almost had a breakaway later in the period and kept the flow of play moving with some good passes.

The first Canucks goal of the game was scored by Tanner Pearson once again. It looked almost like a replay of his first goal of the series and it tied the game up 1-1 with 7:08 remaining in the period.

The scoring didn’t slow down at all and the Wild finally scored their first 5-on-5 goal of the series. Eric Staal walked in and fired a shot over Markstrom’s shoulder to regain the lead for the Wild.

The only other notable mention from the first period was that Myers decided to take another penalty.

The big man just can’t keep his stick down and though some have mentioned that they like Myers’ physicality this series, it has come to bite the Canucks in the butt as we saw the Wild capitalize on the powerplay from Myers’ first penalty.

Second Period

The teams traded goals in the second period as the Canucks were dominating the play and let down by some rare shaky goaltending from Markstrom.

The period began with the Canucks bringing a ton of pressure that hit a tipping point when Eriksson came streaking through the middle, splitting the defence to get a breakaway that resulted in Stalock sticking with him as he went to the backhand.

Right after Eriksson’s breakaway, Joel Eriksson Ek decided that he wanted in on the action and he scored over a sprawling Markstrom. 3-1 Wild.

The Canucks continued to play hard and were rewarded for their efforts when Quinn Hughes danced around in the zone before firing a shot that flew up in the air and into the crease for Brandon Sutter to bury.

It was time for Sutter to be rewarded as he has been playing strong throughout the series. 3-2 Wild.

The Canucks received another opportunity on the powerplay when who other than Quinn Hughes was there to score his first-ever postseason goal as he walked the line and fired one past Stalock. 3-3 after the Canucks goal.

It was a good period for the Canucks and the Wild were lucky to get out of the period only allowing two goals. At the halfway point of the period, the Canucks had 15 shot attempts compared to the Wild only having five.

The only thing that held the Canucks back in the second period was the goaltending of Jacob Markstrom. The team’s MVP was not playing at his most valuable level as he allowed another bad goal late in the period when Nico Sturm scored his first NHL goal from a sharp angle. 4-3 Wild.

Markstrom let in a couple of goals that he wanted to have back in the first 40 minutes. The Canucks were playing a heck of a game at 5-on-5. They were dominating the Wild at even strength, controlling 58% of attempted shots and leading the Wild in scoring chances by a count of 15-10.

The Canucks needed to keep doing what they were doing as the heat map shows that the Canucks were getting to the net hard. This type of effort and play style is what Canucks fans have been screaming for.

So it comes down to the third period.

The game plan was simple, Alex Burrows says it best “win da terd”.

Third Period

Jacob Markstrom needed to be good and he was in the third period.

The Wild went into lockdown mode so Markstrom only faced seven shots in the period. He stopped them all.

The period went on with a lack of flow as the Wild simply gained center and dumped the puck in or iced it if they were under too much pressure. It looked like they were going to be able to hold off the Canucks but Hughes wasn’t going to allow it.

No matter where you looked, Hughes had the puck. He was pinching every shift, controlling the puck behind the Wild goal and he simply was not going to allow this Canucks team to pass on this series-clinching win.

Then it happened.

With 5:46 remaining in the period, Hughes carried the puck into the corner, passed it off to Pearson who made a tremendous pass into the crease directly onto the stick of Horvat who was finally not robbed by Stalock on this one and the Canucks tied the game up 4-4.

It was time for some postseason overtime.

It’s been a long time for Canucks fans.

Here. We. Go!

Overtime

It didn’t take long.

I got two words.

Chris Tanev.

With that goal, the Vancouver Canucks are off to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Fancies

 

Top Performer

The night belonged to Quinn Hughes, he played over 21 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, scored a goal to tie the game and had a 64% CF%. Hughes finished the night with 27:19 of total ice time. His confidence grew exactly when his team needed him most and the Canucks top rookie stepped up. He was electric, controlling the puck for what felt like 10 minutes in the third period and willing this team into an overtime period to set the Canucks up to win this series.

Wrap-Up

For the first time since 2011, they did it. The Canucks won a postseason series.

A win like that will give this team a lot of confidence moving into playoff action and we learned earlier in the day that the Canucks are going to be avoiding the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights in their next series.

Chris Tanev gave a simple answer when he was asked for his thoughts on the goal.

“It’s an awesome feeling, really happy for all the boys”

It sure is an awesome feeling, the Canucks will be in the playoffs for the first time in five years. This young team cleaned up their act after game one of this series and they went to work on the Wild. The young players led this team and they got big contributions from vets like Pearson and Miller.

This team is going to be feeling good moving into the next series.

We will have you covered all the way up to that series and we wish the Wild the best in the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes.

Please don’t let it be Edmonton.