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The Farmies: Lekkerimäki takes five shots as Abby Canucks clinch playoff spot with 4-3 victory over Manitoba Moose

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Photo credit:X/@abbycanucks
Dave Hall
25 days ago
“Win and we’re in.”
That was the mantra for the Abbotsford Canucks heading into tonight’s match against the Manitoba Moose.
Technically, they only needed one point to secure their second consecutive playoff appearance. However, they pushed for the win and sealed their fate with a 4-3 victory, locking up a fourth consecutive win in the process.
Despite a sluggish start, the Canucks seized control of the game and asserted themselves as the dominant force, clearly determined to secure a spot in the postseason.
This game also happened to be the Vancouver Canucks’ prized prospect, Jonathan Lekkerimaki’s best performance yet.
Let’s check in on the action, shall we?
Opening lineup
The Canucks stuck with their 11-forward and seven-defender formation from the weekend and saw Jonathan Lekkerimaki and Elias Pettersson make their Abbotsford Centre debut.
After skating alongside Aidan McDonough and John Stevens over the weekend, Lekkerimäki slotted next to Tristen Nielsen and Sheldon Dries, while Pettersson stuck as the club’s seventh defender.
In net, the Canucks looked to Nikita Tolipilo, who came in having started 15 of the club’s last 23 games.
1st period
It didn’t take long for the visitors to draw first blood, as Nikita Tolopilo was caught with his head still in the dressing room.
1–0 Moose: Manitoba goal, Ville Heinola from Simon Lundmark and Carson Golder
On a relatively innocent shot, Ville Heinola beat him cleanly over the glove, leaving the towering Belarusian goalie to inspect his glove for any signs of damage or holes.
The following minutes saw most of the action titled toward the Abbotsford zone, with the team conceding a quick four shots.
After being hemmed in for much of the early period, Abbotsford’s defence broke down, which resulted in a Moose forward slipping past to clear space for a short breakaway. In a desperate attempt, Nick Cicek resorted to hauling down the trucking forward, resulting in the game’s first penalty.
PK1 — John Stevens, Chase Wouters, Jett Woo and Matt Irwin
PK2 — Sheldon Dries, Marc Gatcomb, Christian Wolanin and Filip Johansson
Luckily, with one of the league’s top-five penalty-killing units, the Canucks came out strong to successfully shut the power play down. They allowed just one shot on net during that time.
1-1 tie: Abbotsford goal, Aidan McDonough from Max Sasson and Matt Iwrin
Feeding off the momentum of a big kill, Max Sasson sprang into action. Gathering the puck in his own end, he accelerated up the ice, veering towards the wing before delivering a pinpoint pass to a trailing Aidan McDonough for an easy tap-in goal.
With the assist, Sasson extended his point streak to nine games, making it the longest active streak in the league.
The next few moments saw Jonathan Lekkerimäki come within striking distance of his first AHL goal. Not once, but twice.
Positioned well in the defensive zone, the 19-year-old stripped the puck from an opponent from behind, initiating a transition up the ice. He kept the puck to himself up the ice and was clearly thinking shot all the way–as he typically does.
Unfortunately, his gears seemed to be turning too hard and instead of his patented release, it came off as almost a shot pass toward the net. It was certainly not his best work, but an encouraging play nonetheless.
The next time he hit the ice, he once again wrested possession from the opposition, this time unleashing a close-range shot to catch the corner piece of Thomas Milic’s jersey.
He wasn’t done yet.
Moments later, Sasson found himself entangled with a Moose forward, resulting in a two-minute penalty for the second time over the first 10 minutes.
2–1 Moose: Manitoba goal, Jeff Malott from Parker Ford and Ville Heinola
The Moose made no mistakes this time around, tossing the puck around the perimeter before Jeff Malott was left to his lonesome in front of the net.
PK or not, this defensive breakdown is enough to make Jeremy Colliton lose sleep–Matt Irwin commits too hard, while Jett Woo stands stationary to ultimately leave the forward to have his way in the crease.
Finally, it was the Canucks’ turn to go a man up. With just over seven minutes remaining, Ty Glover took a stick up high to send their power play units out for the first time of the night.
PP1 — Sheldon Dries, Linus Karlsson, Aatu Räty, Tristen Nielsen and Jett Woo
PP2 — Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Max Sasson, Chase Wouters, Filip Johansson and Christian Wolanin
As has become customary lately, however, it was the Canucks who conceded the first real opportunity. Gaining the puck in the neutral zone, Jeffrey Viel caught Jett Woo flatfooted as he went in and out, forcing Tolopilo to make a strong glove save.
After predominantly playing in the bumper position, Lekkerimäki was stationed on the point for this power play, albeit on his off-wing. Unfortunately, the adjustment didn’t improve their struggling power play, and the Canucks failed to register a shot during the two minutes.
Almost immediately after, Jett Woo took a slash to the hands to send his team directly back to the power play for a consecutive opportunity.
A bit of a soft call, to say the least…
However, this time, they made no mistake.
2-2 tie: Abbotsford goal, Sheldon Dries from Aatu Räty and Tristen Nielsen
Aatu Räty continued his hot hand, as he found Dries in the slot, who ripped home the one-timer for his team-leading 25th goal of the season.
For Räty, that’s his 12th point over his last six games played, clicking at a two-point-per-game clip. He now shares the third most points by a U22 skater among the AHL.
3–2 Canucks: Abbotsford goal, Jett Woo from Linus Karlsson and Aidan McDonough
Exactly one minute (to the second) later, Jett Woo also extended his red-hot point contributions, scoring his seventh goal of the year and seventh point in as many games.
After some hard work on the boards from Linus Karlsson, he cut to the middle to fire a low pad shot from the top of the circles. Following a huge rebound, Woo wound up for the one-timer to beat Milic clean on the far side.
The score would hold, and the Canucks would head to the tunnel up a goal, thanks to their late push.
2nd period
Once again, it was the Moose who challenged right out of the gate, as a breaking Axel Jonsson-Fjällby forced Toloplilo to make the first save point-blank.
As we mentioned, Jonathan Lekkerimäki was not done with his strong game, and he registered his third shot of the young game minutes into the period. You could tell that things were starting to click for the young sharpshooter.
On the same shift, he forced a turnover in his own zone, sticking to his coverage like glue for one of his solid defensive plays of the game.
Elias Pettersson, the bully, took his third penalty in his fifth period of AHL hockey. This time, getting the nod for a cross-check in the corner, which fans did not agree with.
You be the judge.
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Once again, Abbotsford’s strong PK was up the tasks and allowed zero shots on net.
Midway through the second period, Elias Pettersson was credited with his first shot at the AHL level, a long-range shot directed off the blocker.
4–2 Canucks: Abbotsford goal, Linus Karlsson from Max Sasson and Jett Woo
In the latter half of the frame, Max Sasson was up to his typical tricks, driving into the zone before delivering a pass to Linus Karlsson in the slot. Their connection added to the duo’s impressive stretch, as they had now amassed four points together in this game and a total of 11 points in their previous two games.
As they say, good things happen when you move your feet.
Once again, we were treated to the Lekkerimäki show as he created another two strong scoring chances. The first saw him break away but fumble the puck slightly, resulting in a rushed five-hole attempt.
Shortly after, he was set up once again by Max Sasson but was stymied by the blocker of Milic.
Following a series of penalties for both teams, the Moose nearly narrowed the lead with a late goal.
Fortunately for the Canucks, the play was called down due to a high stick, allowing them to escape with a two-goal lead heading into the intermission.
3rd period
After being pinned in their own zone in the early stages of the first two periods, the Canucks were finally the ones doing the pushing, forcing the Moose to take a delay of game penalty in the opening minutes.
Despite some promising movement from the top unit, which controlled possession for well over a minute, they failed to capitalize once again.
At least this time, they did manage to generate four shots on goal during the power play, which is an improvement.
Midway through the period, the Canucks held a strong 8-1 shooting advantage and had done a good job at closing down to play simple, and effective hockey.
Sometimes, it’s the periods where you see no shots that are the hardest, though. After seeing no shots for a few minutes, Tolopilo was forced to make one of his best saves of the game, sliding over to get his leg down in time.
Shortly after that save, the Canucks were sent to their fifth power play of the match. As we know all too well, that is not always the best scenario for them.
4–3 Canucks: Manitoba goal, Dominic Toninato from Axel Jonsson-Fjällby
The Canucks surrendered their third shorthanded goal in as many games. Once again, it stemmed from a weak defensive effort by a Canucks player. This time, Tristan Nielsen allowed Toninato to get past him while trying to defend the inside.
The Canucks peppered Milic with 13 shots in the final frame but were held at bay.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki capped off his night with his fifth shot of the game, coming close to scoring the goal he had been striving for all night.
However, no more goals found the back of the net, and the Canucks held on for a 4-3 victory, marking their fourth consecutive win. Also, this was their second consecutive win in a series-opening game. Which, if you’ve been following this season, is saying something!
THAT’S PLAYOFFS, BABY.
Final score
Abbotsford Canucks defeat the Manitoba Moose 4-2.
CanucksArmy three stars
Tonight’s first star goes to Max Sasson, the Canucks’ top player over the course of a month. It’s not just the two assists he recorded, but the way he delivered them. Showcasing his blazing speed, he was a menace on the outside on multiple occasions, with his two assists serving as the best examples. He currently boasts the league’s longest point streak and has truly put his name in the conversation to make his NHL debut in a short time.
Abbotsford’s newest scoring leader, Linus Karlsson, had yet another strong performance. He notched the game-winning goal along with an assist and led the game with six shots on net. With three goals and six points over his last two games, Karlsson has been one of this team’s key cogs and now comfortably leads the team with 54 points.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki may not have collected any points in this game, but his effort was undeniable. Finishing second in the game with five shots on target, he was a constant presence on the ice and showcased strong defensive plays throughout the match. It was his best game to date, and he continues to improve with each game.
Next on the docket
Buckle up, as these two teams will face off for a rematch on Wednesday night to conclude their four-game season series. Puck drops at 7:00 pm Pacific Time.

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