Arturs Silovs seized the moment in Game 4 and earned the chance to finish this series off

Photo credit:© Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Lachlan Irvine
1 month ago
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Every Stanley Cup run is made up of big games from unexpected sources. Players who become a household name on the biggest stage, and a legendary story that gets told by fans for decades.
In the story of the Vancouver Canucks, Game 4’s chapter belonged to Arturs Silovs.
Silovs was sparkling in a 27-save performance that held the Canucks in the game just long enough for Brock Boeser to score two goals in under three minutes to tie the game, and for Elias Lindholm to send the fans home in overtime with a 4-3 Canucks win.
Just over a week ago, Silovs was serving as the Canucks emergency backup. But on Sunday morning he found out he was going to be the Canucks unexpected starter, with Thatcher Demko out since Game 1 and Casey DeSmith suffering a minor injury in between Games 3 & 4.
Facing a Predators team desperate not to fall behind 3-1 in the series, Silovs’ first playoff action was bound to be a trial by fire. And against all odds, he walked through the flames with barely a scratch.
Outside of being beaten cleanly on Gustav Nyquist’s second period goal off the rush, it took lucky bounces for the Predators to get the puck past Silovs. The first goal came off a Mark Jankowski deflection that hand cuffed Silovs’ blocker, while Forsberg gave Nashville a 3-1 lead on a controversial play where he appeared to kick the puck into the net but no review was called for by the league.
But ask the goalie himself, and he’ll tell you that he had a pressure-free evening.
“I wasn’t too nervous. I was fine, actually,” Silovs said after the win.
“I was just doing my thing, relying on the things I’ve worked on, and that was it.”
It’s no wonder that after Lindholm’s game winner half of the Canucks’ bench, including J.T. Miller, went right over to Silovs to celebrate.
“I couldn’t be happier for the guy, man,” Miller said. “Just to be thrown in and play against the Predators in the playoffs, right? Like that’s a super hard thing to do. And he looked so calm. He really is, and he made some really timely saves to keep it at bay when they really were pushing today.”
If the Canucks locker room was concerned about trying to win with their third goalie in four games, Miller never saw it.
“It doesn’t affect the way we’re playing. If anything you want to play harder for the guy. But it doesn’t matter who’s in net, we should have every reason for playing on our toes and playing Canuck hockey no matter who’s back there.”
Perhaps that’s because the pressure of a high stakes game wasn’t new to Silovs, either. Just a year ago he became a legend in his native country of Latvia when he led the national team to bronze medal in the IIHF World Championships on home soil.
Compared to that, a Sunday night in Nashville was a piece of cake.
“I played in Latvia for my hometown and it was the same atmosphere I would say, and it just feels great,” Silovs said. “Either they boo you or they’re for you. It’s always great to play.”
And the Bridgestone Arena crowd is more against him than most. For years, Predators fans have serenaded visiting netminders after every goal with a soccer-esque routine of chanting their name, followed by “You suck!” and “It’s all your fault!”
Silovs’ response at the end of the game? As he skated out the net to greet his teammates, the 23 year-old cheekily put his glove to his mask, as if he were straining to hear the suddenly quiet crowd.
That kind of confidence is rare in a younger goaltender, and just might be the reason he could get the call to close the series out against the Predators in Game 5. Although DeSmith is expected to be good to go by then, Silovs has created a good problem for the Canucks to have.
Rick Tocchet won’t tip his hand in either direction yet. But that goes to show just how much faith Silovs has already earned from the coaching staff. And that might be why he’s back in goal on Tuesday.
“I’m proud of especially the goaltenders’ next man up mentality,” Tocchet said. “Those guys know that it’s next man up. So I think that’s the approach. We’ll see how it shakes out tomorrow.”
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