The sun is shining on a beautiful Saturday morning in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Canucks ended the rebuild talks after crushing the visiting Los Angeles Kings 4-1 to make it two straight wins for the second time this season!
However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the organization over on the East Cost.
After dropping their third game against a bottom-five team in the AHL with a 4-2 loss to the Laval Rocket, the Abbotsford Canucks continued their run of underwhelming performances with a painful near-victory against the Toronto Marlies.
Through sixty minutes, the Abbotsford Canucks outshot their opponent 29 to 25, rallied to erase a three-goal deficit with three straight goals at 5v5, killed off a five-minute major penalty, and still managed to lose.
Ultimately, it was a combination of poor puck possession at 5v5, several ill-timed penalties, and awful communication that sunk this team early and late.
Let’s get into the action and see where it all went wrong!
From the opening minute, it was not a good start for Abbotsford.
Forty-three seconds into the game, former Canuck Adam Gaudette drew a high-sticking penalty against Marc Gatcomb to hand the AHL’s second-leading power play an early opportunity.
Toronto Marlies Goal: 1-0 Marlies
Joey Anderson from Noel Hoefenmayer and Logan Shaw
At 73.8%, the Farm’s penalty kill sits 28th in the league. At 30.5%, the Marlies’ power play sits second to the Cleveland Monsters at 32.7%.
Abbotsford’s penalty killers looked like deer in headlights on the opening goal sequence. The four skaters were caught flatfooted as Noel Hoefenmayer’s floated through onto Arturs Silovs’ pads before rebounding out to Joey Anderson for the tap-in.
The Farm responded to the opening goal with two quick scoring chances from Matt Alfaro and Danila Klimovich.
Less than one minute after Anderson’s goal, Alfaro entered the zone down the right wing for a shot off the crossbar. The rebound landed at the top of the left circle, where Klimovich quickly corraled for a snapping shot into the chest of Dylan Ferguson.
After a long shift hemmed inside the d-zone, Brady Keeper drew a tripping penalty against Victor Mete to hand the Farm their first power play of the game.
PP2: Juulsen, Bains, Klimovich, Pederson, Rau
The second unit kicked off the man advantage and looked mighty dangerous, with Noah Juulsen punctuating fifty seconds of zone time with a crushing one-timer off Ferguson’s pads.
PP1: Nielsen, Karlsson, Pederson, Wolanin, Dowling
Linus Karlsson looked dangerous on the power play as well. Karlsson repeatedly looked for redirect plays from teammates sitting around the goal mouth. Late on the man advantage, Karlsson found Lane Pederson at the side of the crease for one of those redirect attempts, but the latter’s timing was off, missing on the attempt.
After drawing the Farm’s first power play opportunity, Keeper took the team’s second penalty of the night: a blatant stick in the skates tripping minor.
“Ya can’t do that!”
PK1: Wouters, Stevens, Juulsen, Brisebois
A funny bounce nearly made it two-zip for the Marlies. But gravity was on the Farm’s side through most of the first period!
Midway through the Marlies’ second power play, Jett Woo went on an adventure while defending the zone entry, gifting Alex Steeves a glorious scoring chance off the left wing.
Woo’s nonsensical collapse and inability to see that his F2 is collapsing on the entry might work for Vancouver’s penalty kill. But, it has no business here.
Seconds later, Steeves ripped a shot off the crossbar, with Woo catching the rebound at the side of the net and clearing the zone.
Like most of his performances this season, Woo’s first period was a mixed bag. Jeremy Colliton has frequently cited “consistency” when describing the areas of focus for his young players, and consistency was the clear issue with Woo’s game on Saturday.
One minute, Woo’s flubbed clearance on the defence of a Marlies zone entry leads directly to a dangerous shot attempt from the high slot.
Then seconds later, Woo earns body position behind the net to catch the missed shot and tip the puck back to his forward for an exit opportunity.
However, seconds after Woo’s smart play, Christian Wolanin threw the puck up the middle, leading to more dangerous opportunities for the Marlies!
After Woo’s flubbed clearance and Wolanin’s giveaway, the Marlies generated thirty seconds of sustained offensive zone time, leading to their second goal.
Toronto Marlies Goal: 2-0 Marlies
Noel Hoefenmayer from Alex Steeves and Logan Shaw
Though the two teams finished the period even in shots on goal, the Marlies dominated the Canucks with puck possession at 5v5.
The Farm struggled to deal with the size and speed advantage of the Marlies, with most of their shots being kept outside the dangerous areas of the ice. The Marlies generated seven of their chances from the slot, while the Canucks generated just one.
Shot chart after 1st period
The Farm’s most dangerous chance through the final ten minutes came off an offensive zone faceoff win, with Lane Pederson again looking for the redirect goal at the front of the net.
The Marlies entered their Saturday afternoon matchup less than 24 hours removed from playing a road game against the Belleville Senators. The Canucks had two days rest after their Wednesday night matchup against the Rocket.
Theoretically, the Canucks should have been the fresher team. But, instead, they looked slow and late to every play.
The Canucks started the second strongly, with Keeper nearly cutting the Marlies’ lead in half off a net-front scramble.
Unfortunately, the Farm’s sustained pressure in the offensive zone did not last, with Kyle Clifford drawing a tripping penalty against Justin Dowling to give the Marlies their third power play opportunity.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev made it three-nothing after dragging around Jett Woo’s outstretched stick for a wrist shot under Silovs’ blocker side.
Toronto Marlies Goal: 3-0 Marlies
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev from Joseph Blandisi and Mikhail Abramov
Again, the “lazy outstretched stick” might cut it on Vancouver’s penalty kill. But it doesn’t cut it here.
Five minutes through the middle frame, the Marlies continued to threaten Abbotsford from the middle of the ice. On one such backcheck, Tristen Nielsen completely abandoned his position, allowing Toronto’s Noel Hoefenmayer to waltz into the d-zone for a shot attempt.
Toronto’s William Villeneuve took a cross-checking penalty seven minutes into the period. The Canucks’ failed to make anything of the opportunity, recording just one shot on goal over two minutes.
Wyatt Kalynuk nearly made it a four-nothing game when he sent a dangerous pass to Kyle Rau at the right circle off the half wall. Joey Anderson quickly stripped Rau of Kalnyuk’s pass and walked in on Silovs’ net for a dangerous backhander attempt.
The Canucks’ finally started to make things interesting late in the second, with John Stevens capitalizing on a Justin Dowling rebound to cut the deficit by one.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 3-1 Marlies
John Stevens from Justin Dowling and Kyle Rau
Figures! After thirty-four minutes of weak shots from the perimeter, the Canucks’ finally generated an attempt from the slot, resulting in a goal.
In true Vancouver Canucks’ fashion, after spending most of the final six minutes hemmed inside the d-zone, the Canucks throw a weak puck on net to make it a one-goal game.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 3-2 Marlies
Linus Karlsson from Chase Wouters and Christian Wolanin
With ten seconds left in the period, off a zone entry, Linus Karlsson angled out to the right circle and turned for a shot/pass to Arshdeep Bains. Instead, Karlsson’s unassuming pass/shot redirected off the inside of Ferguson’s outstretched right pad and into the net.
It was an incredibly fortunate bounce that put the Canucks’ back into a game they had no business being in, based on their first forty minutes of play.
The Marlies didn’t like the goal either and decided to start Keith Petruzelli in the third period.
It was more of the same puck-possession dominance from the Marlies to start the third. But Canuck-luck was on the Farm’s side.
After blocking a hard shot from Brady Keeper, the Marlies’ Joseph Blandisi raced into the offensive zone on a breakaway, somehow resulting in no shot attempt.
I keep rewatching the above sequence to watch Arshdeep Bains fly in on the backcheck to take Mikhail Abramov out at the knees.
Six minutes into the final period, the Canucks’ found success, again from the slot. Facing a cold goalie, the Canuck’s scored their third-straight goal on their fifth shot of the period to even things out at three apiece.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 3-3 Tie
Lane Pederson from Tristen Nielsen and Wyatt Kalynuk
Tristen Nielsen picked up his ninth point of the year after curling to the left circle to set up Lane Pederson for the redirect goal.
Two goals from the slot and one goal from a very fortunate bounce. None via the power play. About as “Vancouver Canucks hockey” as it gets, baby!
Also playing into the “Canucks hockey” mindset was Jett Woo, who continued his run of questionable play with an incredibly dangerous hit from behind on Toronto’s Alex Steeves outside the Marlies’ bench.
Woo’s boarding major threw the Canucks’ onto a five-minute penalty kill against the second-best power play in the league.
Of the many poor decisions he made in Saturday’s game, this was easily Woo’s worst. Just a boneheaded decision to completely kill any momentum the Canucks’ may have generated off Pederson’s game-tying goal.
Fortunately, the Canucks’ PK did a terrific job of stifling the Marlies’ power play. Through their first minute and change on the power play, the Canucks’ held the Marlies’ to zero shots on goal.
John Stevens nearly put the Canucks up by one with a shorthanded breakaway after breaking up a pass at the top of the circles.
It wasn’t his only shorthanded scoring chance, either. One minute later, he and Justin Dowling combined for a shorthanded rush that nearly made it four straight for Abbotsford.
Midway through the Marlies’ power play, Noah Juulsen dropped to block a brutal one-timer from Adam Gaudette. Guillaume Brisebois followed up on Juulsen’s block with a timely stick on Gaudette’s follow-up attempt to deflect the puck high over the glass.
The penalty kill was sharp through all five minutes of Woo’s boarding major as they played desperate hockey to hold the tie they struggled to earn in the first place.
Despite the final scoreline, Arturs Silovs was incredibly sharp throughout. Especially on the five-minute major, where he stopped all three shots on the net and came up huge on the late scramble above.
Sadly, eight seconds after Woo’s penalty expired, Alex Steeves drew his second consecutive cross-checking penalty to put the Marlies back on the power play.
The Canucks’ penalty kill was not so lucky on the ensuing kill.
Toronto Marlies Goal: 4-3 Marlies
Mikhail Abramov from Nick Abruzzese and Adam Gaudette
Forty seconds into the PK, the Canucks penalty killers lost track of an Adam Gaudette shot attempt, leading to Nick Abruzzese picking up the loose puck to set up Mikhail Abramov for the tiebreaker goal.
An absolute heartbreaker for the Canucks’ penalty killers, who worked so hard to kill off Woo’s five-minute major.
With five minutes left in the game, Alex Steeves found himself on the delivering end of a cross-check for once, which gave the Canucks’ a late power play opportunity.
Unfortunately, despite one shot on goal from Linus Karlsson, Abbotsford looked exhausted on the man advantage, ultimately failing to generate any dangerous looks.
In a frustrating moment of poor communication, seconds after pulling Silovs for the extra attacker, Abbotsford pulled a Vancouver by putting themselves offside on a zone entry attempt. Instead of holding the puck for the re-entry attempt, Karlsson dumps the puck into the offensive zone, immediately gifting possession to the Marlies’ defencemen.
The Marlies quickly threw the puck up the wings to Adam Gaudette, who plunged the final dagger into Abbotsford’s comeback hopes with the empty netter.
Toronto Marlies Goal: 5-3 Marlies
Adam Gaudette from Nick Abruzzese and Matthew Hellickson
Despite looking completely outmatched, the Farm rallied back from a three-goal deficit, only to shoot themselves in the foot late in the third to spoil the comeback attempt.
The loss to the Marlies made it three straight losses for the Canucks.
At least it was a loss to a top team in the league for a change.
Toronto Marlies defeat the Abbotsford Canucks 5-3
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
- Arturs Silovs
- John Stevens
- Noah Juulsen
Next Up on the Docket
The Farm runs it back against the Marlies Sunday at 4 PM EST.