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The Farmies: Linus Karlsson and Max Sasson collect two points each in Abbotsford Canucks’ victory

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Photo credit:@abbotsfordcanucks on IG
Dave Hall
22 days ago
It was Vancouver Canucks night at the Abbotsford Centre, with a few former Canuck legends attending the match, including Jyrki Lumme, Darcy Rota, Dave Babych, and Kirk McLean.
Fortunately, the Abbotsford Canucks gave them a proper tribute, bringing home a 3-2 victory on a Saturday night.
The win shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering their recent history on the backend of a weekend series. Despite dropping their past four series openers, they have managed to follow up each with a victory in game two.
While the game was no Picasso, it would prove to be a much-needed victory against a struggling squad, and believe it or not, it would be their power play that served as the catalyst.
Let’s check in to see how things went.
Opening lineup
The Canucks made no changes to the lineup on Saturday, with the one exception coming between the pipes. Nikita Tolopilo got the start after riding the bench for the team’s last five games. He came into the match sporting a 9-6-0 record in his first AHL campaign.
On the backend, head coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed on Friday that both Christian Wolanin and Akito Hirose’s injuries are considered long-term. With that, we can expect a continued run of elevated roles for both Jett Woo and rookie defender Cole McWard, who have each taken heavier minutes, which includes running the club’s power play units.
Filip Johansson continues to miss time after taking a shot to the head last week in Bakersfield.
1st period
The Canucks came out the gate with fresh legs, finishing checks and applying pressure early.
Following a strong body check from Tristen Nielsen, the puck found its way to Linus Karlsson, who grabbed the game’s first opportunity to get the crowd on their feet.
While he never ended up hitting the net, it was a testament to the strong start from the team, and hopefully, a build-up for things to come in the game.
Of course, all that momentum was stunned almost immediately.
Despite the aggressive start from the Canucks, it was the Barracuda who managed to capitalize on an early chance.
Roughly five minutes into the opening frame, the Barracuda finally got their first shot, and it managed to sneak its way past the Canucks’ netminder.
Goal – San Jose – Ethan Cardwell from Thomas Bordeleau and Jack Studnicka
Somehow, the puck managed to squeak by at least three Canucks defenders, before former Canuck Jack Studnicka managed to poke the puck forward through to Thomas Bordeleau.
Bordeleau then fired a casual spin shot toward net, only to have it redirected by Ethan Cardwell who opened the game’s scoring for the second night in a row.
Although the tone felt like it was being set by Abbotsford, the wind was quickly sucked out of the building.
Bordeleau continued to apply pressure, grabbing not one, but two point-blank attempts in quick succession just one minute later.
After letting in a soft redirect on his first shot, Tolopilo settled in to make some strong saves over the next 10 minutes.
Following minutes of being pinned in their own zone, Aidan McDonough attempted to provide the team’s first spark in what felt like an eternity. He fired a shot to the low far side, but San Jose’s Georgi Romanov kicked it aside.
With just under four minutes remaining, the top line of Vasily Podkolzin, Arshdeep Bains, and John Stevens were rewarded for keeping their feet moving.
While Podkolzin enjoyed a free skate around the ice, Bains endured a beating at the netfront from former Victoria Royal defender, Gannon Laroque. Unfortunately for San Jose, he took things just a touch too far, resulting in the game’s first power play for Abbotsford.
PP1: Aatu Räty, Vasily Podkolzin, Max Sasson, Alex Kannok Leipert and Jett Woo.
PP2: Linus Karlsson, Tristen Nielsen, Arshdeep Bains, Danila Klimovich and Cole McWard.
The two minutes offered what you’d expect from the league’s bottom power play units and league-worst penalty kill, and it did not amount to much.
The period concluded with a John Stevens interference call. Unfortunately, failing to touch the puck in the dying seconds meant that the entire two-minute penalty would carry over to the second frame.
2nd period
Unlike their inability to score with the man up, Abbotsford’s penalty kill is one of the league’s best (third), and the first two minutes of the second period showcased why.
They kept the Barracuda at bay and did not allow a single shot over the two minutes.
PK1: Chase Wouters, Arshdeep Bains, Jett Woo, Matt Cicek
PK2: Marc Gatcomb, Aatu Räty, Cole McWard
Minutes later, it was their turn to go back to the advantage.
Linus Karlsson was clipped — or as the referees called it, tripped — in the neutral zone to send the league’s bottom-dwelling power play back over the bench.
As a surprise to no one, it did not amount to anything but two easily tracked shots on net.
Death, taxes, and the 2023-24 Abbotsford Canucks failing to score on the power play.
Cole McWard seized the Canucks’ best opportunity of the early period, collecting the puck off a faceoff draw before hitting iron.
Interference appeared to be a running theme in this match, as the Canucks took another penalty midway through the period.
As Jermaine Leowen broke through the Barracuda defence to get a chance, Chase Wouters smacked the stick out of a San Jose defender’s hands, leading to another penalty.
Goal – San Jose – Cole Cassels from Kyle Rau and Thomas Bordeleau
It took just 17 seconds for former Canuck Cole Cassels to find himself all alone in the bumper spot to double the San Jose lead.
With his team lacking any emotion, Jeremy Colliton went to the line blender.
That seemed to send a message to the club, and minutes later, Vasily Podkolzin took a healthy hack in the hands, bringing the Canucks to the power play for the third time of the evening.
But wait, just seconds into the man advantage, Linus Karlsson was hauled down to put the club on a five-on-three for nearly a full two minutes.
The two-man advantage began with a couple of Vasily Podkolzin one-timers, all of which were sucked up by the San Jose netminder.
They moved the puck with confidence, nearly cashing in on a few more opportunities. None better than Max Sasson, who hit the post from the bumper spot.
Goal – Abbotsford – Linus Karlsson (unassisted)
Finally, as the initial penalty was on the brink of expiring, Linus Karlsson took matters into his own hands.
Grabbing the puck at the point, he walked in and stepped into a heavy slap shot, finding the sliver of daylight on the short side top corner to cut the lead in half.
Goal – Abbotsford – Nick Cicek from Arshdeep Bains and Max Sasson
With just a minute and change remaining in the middle frame, former Barracuda Nick Cicek received an incredible feed from All-Star-bound Arshdeep Bains — while on his stomach — before delivering a seeing-eye snapshot to even things up at two.
That was Cicek’s third of the season, second with the Canucks, and first against his former club.
The crowd was in awe of Bains’ spectacular assist.
The 23-year-old will head to San Jose after this game to represent the club at this year’s All-Star game, and he’s just getting his hands warmed up for the festivities.
With the assist, Bains hits 30 helpers on the year and creates a new career high with 39 points to sit seventh league-wide.
Seconds later, John Stevens was – you guessed it – interfered with, sending Abbotsford back to yet another man advantage to close out the second frame.
Goal – Abbotford – Max Sasson from Linus Karlsson and Aatu Räty
Looking for their first lead of the weekend, the Canucks honed in on the incredible momentum that had been built over the last few minutes and executed the tic-tac-toe play to perfection, with Sasson cashing in from the bumper spot.
After 38 sleepy minutes play, the Canucks provided two minutes of incredible action, lighting the roof on fire at the Abbotsford Centre.
Jett Woo took a late penalty with zero seconds on the clock, meaning they would head into another period having to kill a full two-minute penalty.
3rd period
Much like they did in the second frame, the Canucks began the period with a successful penalty kill, holding onto their newly found one-goal lead.
While the initial minutes didn’t pose much of a threat, Tolopilo had to be sharp at the tail end of the penalty, shutting the door on an in-tight redirect, and squeezing his pads tight to hold the line.
Minutes later, Chase Wouters had a golden opportunity to double his team’s lead, finding himself all alone at the side of the net. Romanov kicked out his leg to stop him point-blank, leaving Wouters looking to the rafters in disbelief.
From there, the game returned to its previous form, providing periodic low-percentage opportunities, with the Canucks doing their best to batten down the hatches.
With less than a minute remaining and their netminder pulled, San Jose’s Scott Sabourin took an unnecessary cross-checking penalty, putting their team down a man with little time left to capitalize.
The penalty would seal their fate, and the Canucks held on to split the weekend series.
Final score
The Abbotsford Canucks defeat the San Jose Barracuda 3-2.
CanucksArmy three stars
Tonight’s first star goes to Linus Karlsson, who scored one of the prettiest goals of his AHL career and was one of the team’s most consistent skaters, capping off the night with two points. Despite jumping back and forth from Vancouver to Abbotsford, Karlsson continues to put up points for this team, sitting second in points despite playing fewer games than most.
Tonight’s second star goes to Max Sasson, who also provided the Canucks with a two-point performance. Not only did he pick up the game-winning goal, but he now shares a spot at the top, leading this team in goals with 13. He also hit the post earlier in the match.
The Canucks third star goes to Nikita Tolopilo, who, despite allowing a goal on his first shot, stood tall for most of the night. He made 24 saves to hit 10 wins on the year.
Next on the docket
The Canucks, with the exception of Arshdeep Bains, will enjoy nearly a week off before heading to Colorado for a two-game set against the Eagles next Friday. Bains, on the other hand, will head to San Jose to take part in this year’s All-Star festivities. The skills competition is scheduled for Sunday at 5:00 PM, followed by the All-Star game on Monday at 6:00 PM.

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