51
Photo Credit: © Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Postgame: One up, one down and one to the heavens as Canucks win game one 5-2

The good: After five long years, the Vancouver Canucks are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and won their first game against the St. Louis Blues by a score of 5-2.

The bad: They are playing the best regular-season team in the Western Conference — who also happen to be defending Stanley Cup Champions — and still have to win three more games to advance to the second round.

The St. Louis Blues are a big, strong and aggressive team. Their regular season lineup was missing their superstar forward Vladamir Tarasenko for most of the season. Tarasenko is now back and he will be a lot for the Canucks defence to handle if he is healthy.

The Canucks decided to go with the exact same lineup that they iced in game four against the Minnesota Wild. That means no Tyler Toffoli in game one, as he is still deemed unfit to play.

Jacob Markstrom starts in net for the Canucks while runner up to the 2018-19 Calder Trophy Jordan Binnington gets the call for the Blues.

Lines

Thoughts from Twitter

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Bubble hockey is on and the Canucks are in the playoffs.

It’s time to see how the Canucks’ young core matches up against the defending cup champs.

Let’s go!

Advertisement - Continue Commenting Below

First Period

The Canucks came out flying in the first period. Tanner Pearson and Brandon Sutter both had scoring chances off the rush. Pearson just missed the top corner early on in the game. Sutter’s chance was even better as he came flying through the Blues defence and almost deked out goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Though Sutter didn’t score on his partial breakaway, he did draw a slashing penalty and the Canucks went to their first powerplay of the series.

It took only 12 seconds of powerplay time for the Canucks’ captain to break the deadlock. Elias Pettersson held in a clearing attempt at the line and fed the puck to JT Miller, who then passed it off to Hughes on the half wall and Hughes fed Horvat in the bumper position for a one-time shot that had eyes and made it right through Binnington. 1-0 Canucks.

After the goal, there was some bumping and chirping at centre ice. The Canucks loudest mouth Antoine Roussel was involved in the conversation and it ended with him taking a shot to les boules.

The Canucks were physical in the first half of the period. Roussel was a big part of that as he led the way with three hits in the first period. Miller, Jay Beagle and Tyler Motte all had a couple of hits in the first period as well. The Canucks had their legs under them in the first period and need to keep that intensity as the series goes on.

Zack MacEwen and the fourth line had a few great shifts in the first period. They were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for more often than not and the Blues’ fourth line was losing that matchup early on.

The most impressive player in the first period was Quinn Hughes.

He was all over the ice with the puck, his quick cuts and turns were working on the Blues’ defenders and forecheckers. His passing was accurate as Hawkeye of The Avengers and he even threw the body around at times in the period.

Hughes will be a handful for the Blues as this series goes on.

The Blues had a strong push at the 10-minute mark of the period. They were able to control a good portion of the play in the Canucks’ zone around the halfway point and drew a penalty during that pressure.

The Blues have a good powerplay of their own and scored an almost mirror image goal as the Canucks with their powerplay tally. David Perron, who led the Blues in powerplay shots this season, was in the bumper position and fired a one-timer past Markstrom. 1-1 after the Blues goal.

Late in the period, Horvat took a high stick to the face and the Canucks went to the powerplay with 1:18 remaining in the period. Pettersson was able to get a few of his massive slapshots off but the Canucks weren’t able to score and the powerplay resumed in the second period.

So let’s go there!

Second Period

The Blues were able to kill off the remainder of the Canucks’ crossover powerplay. After that kill, we saw some good back and forth 5-on-5 action before the parade to the penalty box began.

Tyler Myers does what Tyler Myers does and took the first penalty of the second period. The Canucks were able to kill off most of that penalty before Brayden Schenn took a penalty with 28 seconds remaining in the Blues’ powerplay.

The was an uneventful 28 seconds of 4-on-4 and then the Canucks went to work on the powerplay. There was a mad scramble and the puck made it’s way to Pettersson’s stick. He made no mistake and roofed a wrist shot over Binnington. 2-1 Canucks.

The Blues answered back once again. Jaden “don’t call me Schartz” Schwartz chipped the puck past Chris Tanev who clicked skates with Hughes which resulted in Schwartz getting a clear-cut breakaway.

Schwartz made a move and chipped the puck through Markstrom’s legs to tie the game up 2-2.

After the goal that tied the game at two, Markstrom was tested more at 5-on-5 and during a powerplay. He was good against the pressure and kept the game tied at two after a barrage of good looks.

The Canucks got one more powerplay opportunity before the period expired and on that powerplay, Pettersson rang a one-timer off the bar.

The period was dominated by powerplays as only 10:48 was spent at 5-on-5.

The Blues were controlling the game at even strength as they controlled 56% of the attempted shots and scoring chances after 40 minutes.

It was time for the final 20 minutes and the pressure was on.

Third Period

It took all the way to the third period but we finally got to see an elongated session of 5-on-5 hockey. The Blues came at Markstrom hard early and the Canucks had to find a way to bounce back.

They did.

Troy Stecher came down the right wing and burned a shot past Binnington. 3-2 Canucks.

Stecher pointed up to the heavens in a salute to his late father who passed away unexpectedly on Father’s Day. This was all the feels for a local kid to score such a big goal after going through hell during the off time.

Canucks fans love Stecher, and for good reason.

Stecher’s goal sparked the Canucks’ 5-on-5 scoring as Horvat ignited the goal light for the second time tonight with an outstanding move to shake Blues defender Vince Dunn before sniping top cheddar cheese over Binnington. 4-2 Canucks.

The Canucks had two 5-on-5 goals in just under two and a half minutes.

After the two quick Canuck goals, the Blues were consistently bringing pressure on Markstrom. They were pressing every shift and Markstrom had to be on his game for the remainder of the period to keep the Canucks in this game.

Markstrom continued to get better as the game went on. His highlight save came late in the game when the Blues had pulled the goalie. Markstrom made two quick save including a left toe save made for a GIF.

Alex Pietrangelo took an interference penalty while his team had the net empty and JT Miller scored on the ensuing powerplay to end the game. 5-2 Canucks.

The Fancies

Best of Twitter

Top Performers

Bo Horvat was the top performer for the Canucks in this game. Cap was all over the ice, good at even strength and scored a big powerplay goal early on in this one. Horvat came to play tonight and won 15 of 28 faceoffs. Horvat’s line played 9:16 together at 5-on-5 tonight and had an expected goals against of 0.07. That line was excellent in the defensive zone all night long.

The other top performer in the game was Troy Stecher. Stecher scored the game-winning goal and also had the highest Corsi for percentage in this game. Stecher’s point to the heavens was the highlight of the game for me.

Wrap-Up

The Blues came out and played a pretty strong game. They got better as the game went on but so did the Canucks. This is going to be a long series and the Blues will try to wear down the young players on this Canucks team as it goes on.

David Perron was all over the Canucks young stars in this game. He made sure to finish his checks and give a little extra after said finished hit. Perron will quickly become the most hated man in this series if he continues up with his antics.

The Canucks had a lead at three different times in this game. The Blues were playing from behind all throughout the game and that’s the way the Canucks want it to be. They controlled the game even though the Blues controlled the shot share in this one. Horvat mentioned it in his postgame that this team needed to keep the pressure even with a lead.

“We wanted to keep pushing even though we were up by one. I thought we did a great job spreading the scoring around. Guys stepped up at times.”

Markstrom was excellent in the third period and the Canucks got some clutch goals when they needed it. Overall it was an excellent game one. Markstrom saved 29 of 31 shots today and was excellent at 5-on-5, saving 22 of 23 shots.

A quick note needs to be made about Alex Edler, who played Hughes-like minutes in the third period. He blocked four shots tonight and was relied upon to defend a late lead. Edler was roughed up throughout this game and kept fighting through. His veteran presence will be needed in this series and beyond.

The Canucks now have a taste of winning in the playoffs, and it’s about to get very fun over the next couple weeks.

We’ll see you soon. Go Canucks Go.