The Farmies: Linus Karlsson’s first playoff goal keeps Abbotsford’s post-season alive with 3-2 win
6 months ago
They pulled it off, folks! The post-season is still alive thanks to Spencer Martin and the Canucks’ young stars playing their best two-way games of the season.
For the first time in this series, Dustin Wolf looked human. Through two prior starts, Wolf had been electric, stopping 61 of 66 shots, including a litany of high-danger scoring chances that were turned aside with ease.
Despite playing a shortened bench with a rookie d-man in the rotation and John Stevens out due to injury, the Canucks’ top forwards shut down the Wranglers’ scoring leaders despite having been thoroughly outclasses during their first two outings.
Were it not for Arshdeep Bains’ two shorthanded goals, the Canucks’ special teams would have been a negative-2 after going 0/10 on the power play, and 9/11 on the penalty kill for games one and two. Game three of this series finally saw the Canucks’ special teams put it together. The penalty kill looked sharp as a tack, conceding just 2 shots, while their power play finally cracked the Wranglers’ defence with Linus Karlsson’s first goal of the post-season.
But enough of the boring charts and the wordy summary! Let’s recap the game and make some GIF money while we’re at it!
Worth noting, according to the pre-game starting lineup read from Kyle Rau: Filip Johansson’s nickname is “JoJo.”
We didn’t really know where else to put this critical piece of information heading into next season, so here it is now.
Speaking of Rau, he kicked off an incredible game three performance with the first shot on goal of the evening, with a wrist shot off Dustin Wolf’s blocker. Rau’s first chance was a real tone-setter for the veteran winger. He’s been a quiet productive top-six staple for Colliton and has consistently slid under the fanbase’s radar. Tonight, he was on fire and had his loudest game of the season.
In each of Abbotsford’s three games against Calgary, the Canucks have spent the opening five minutes pressuring the Wranglers in their zone.
Weirdly, as they’d done in their two previous meetings, the Canucks’ o-zone pressure did not yield any positive results. Instead, conceding the opening goal against for the third straight game.
After Nils Höglander’s best shift of this Calgary series, a turnover from Max Sasson sent the Wranglers deep into the Abbotsford zone, where a fortunate bounce off Zach Giuttari’s stick-check gave Jeremie Poirier a perfect shooting lane from the slot to beat Spencer Martin over the shoulder.
The Canucks faced further adversity in the early goings when third-line center John Stevens left the game after going head over heels at the Abbotsford blue line.
Stevens appeared to make contact with the ice chin-first. Fortunately, he was able to skate to the bench under his own power, but he was escorted immediately down the tunnel. Steven’s injury was a big loss to Abbotsford as he’s been a go-to first-shift penalty killer for head coach Jeremey Colliton, who entrusts Stevens to take most of his PK faceoffs, block shots, and generate shorthanded rushes. Fortunately, Stevens’ absence only meant more ice time at even strength for the top-nine forward group, as the remaining penalty killers did admirably without his work in the dot.
The physicality didn’t stop there either. Ahead of the midway point of the first, Clark Bishop drew the game’s first penalty after cross-checking Jack Rathbone awkwardly into the Canucks endboards.
PP1: Höglander, Wolanin, Nielsen, Dowling, Karlsson
While the prospect of another Canucks’ power play opportunity was terrifying for those, who’d survive the team’s first two games in which they went 0/11. Abbotsford’s first power play unit mercifully broke the special teams curse with Linus Karlsson’s first goal of the post-season.
The tip-in was slick.
Like, really slick.
Following Karlsson’s goal, Tristen Nielsen and Ben Jones drew offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct minors for engaging in some post-goal shenanigans.
During the 4-on-4, Abbotsford drew a tripping penalty against Nick DeSimone to give Abbotsford an extended 4-on-3 power play. Höglander nearly gave the Canucks their first lead of the game off a scramble outside of Wolf’s crease, only to put his shot just wide of the net.
The 4-on-3 quickly gave way to a 5-on-4 with Nielsen and Jones leaving the box, opening the door for a shaken-up second power play unit featuring Arshdeep Bains, Kyle Rau, Danila Klimovich, Jack Rathbone, and Marc Gatcomb.
The minute-long 5-on-4 power play failed to muster any significant offence. Then Spencer Martin faced back-to-back odd-man breakaways, turning aside both to keep things even at 1.
The odd-man rushes kept coming throughout the dying minutes of the opening frame. A quick-up play from Rathbone to Rau opened up the neutral zone for Rau to send Bains into the Wranglers’ zone for a dangerous two-on-one with Höglander.
Dustin Wolf has been on a mission through three starts to get an early advantage on securing next year’s AHL MVP award. Höglander’s one-timer from the knee would have beaten 99% of AHL goaltenders. Wolf calmly read Bains’ drop pass to the trailer perfectly and swung into position to get a piece of his glove on the shot like a seasoned veteran.
Through 20 minutes, the Canucks saw themselves even in goals and narrowly up in shots, 12-11 across all situations but outshot 10-7 at 5-on-5.
It was a bit of an awkward back-and-forth to start the middle frame, with both teams exchanging rush entries and shot attempts, punctuated by a bad giveaway from Christian Wolanin that led to an even worse one-timer attempt from Walker Duehr.
With John Stevens out of the game due to an early injury, ice time opened up for “BIG GAME” Max Sasson to take on his minutes. By the five-minute mark, Sasson worked the puck off the boards and executed a cutback to the left circle for Abbotsford’s first shot on goal of the period.
Sasson’s shift with Rau and Höglander tired out the Wranglers, eventually leading to Christian Wolanin’s first goal of the post-season; an awkward deflection off a Wranglers’ stick to give the Canucks their first lead of the game.
The go-ahead goal opened the floodgates for a litany of Abbotsford odd-man rushes. First, it was Linus Karlsson springing him and Justin Dowling ahead for a two-on-one.
Then it was Sasson breaking up a play in the d-zone to spring Bains and Rau ahead for a two-on-one.
Though he’s had a tough series for Abbotsford, Zach Giuttari earned his first big POP from the home crowd when he laid out Matthew Phillips with a crushing hit inside the d-zone.
The two-on-ones kept coming throughout the second period. Calgary’s Mitch McLain raced down the left wing for a breakaway, cutting around Rathbone for a shot on the sprawling Spencer Martin. After making the initial stop, the trailer, Adam Klapk, had a glorious tap-in opportunity from Martin’s crease but somehow put his tap-in opportunity off the post!
It was an incredibly exciting back-and-forth ten minutes to start the second period. It’s a shame that traffic prevented so many Abbotsford fans from getting to the game on time because the building was electric.
Just after the midway point of the period, Höglander took his third minor penalty in two games to send the Canucks to their first penalty kill of the game.
PK1: Alfaro, Wouters, Juulsen, Woo
PK2: Dowling, Bains, Giuttari, Wolanin
The Canucks PK continued its strong play, holding Calgary to a single shot on the man advantage, forcing an icing with 20 seconds remaining on the power play, and eventually returning the game to 5-on-5.
Immediately after leaving the box, Höglander made up for his dum-dum penalty by drawing a dum-dum penalty against Calgary’s lone goalscorer Jeremie Poirier for Abbotsford’s third power play of the game.
27 seconds into the man advantage, Karlsson drew a brutal-looking cross-check from Nicholas Meloche to give the Canucks an extended 5-on-3.
PP1: Höglander, Wolanin, Dowling, Karlsson, Rathbone
For the 5-on-3, Christian Wolanin took point in the one-timer spot down the right flank while Rathbone manned the blue line, generating two quality shots on net.
With 24 seconds left in the 5-on-3, Rathbone clapped the top of the crossbar. The horn sounded, as did the goal light, but it was officially ruled a no-goal for Rathbone.
The Canucks’ power play failed to muster anything dangerous after Rathbone and Wolanin’s attempts. But the power play allowed Rathbone to show off his defensive acumen, breaking up Jeremie Poirier’s rush chance from out of the penalty box after an exhausting shift.
After a gruelling extended power play shift that included two shots off the iron, and a near-goal, it was Rathbone’s gutsy effort to strip Poirier of possession that was most impressive.
With two minutes left in the second period, Zach Giuttari took a holding penalty to hand Calgary their second power play of the game. With Giuttari in the box, Rathbone drew first PK shift duty alongside Wolanin where, for the second time that period, the Canucks held Calgary to a single shot on net.
The Canucks finished the second period having outshot the Wranglers 9-7 across all situations while trading even at 5-on-5, with each team posting five shots each.
The third period kicked off with two minutes of 4-on-4 after Ben Jones and Jett Woo engaged in some post-whistle shenanigans at the conclusion of the first period.
It was Rathbone again showing off his defensive chops, attacking Ilya Solovyov in the d-zone and kicking the puck out of the zone to stifle the Wranglers’ attack.
Moments after Rathbone’s play to break up the Wrangler’s cycle attempt, Tristen Nielsen capitalized on a neutral zone turnover to set up Kyle Rau for a shot from distance that beat Dustin Wolf under his glove side to give Abbotsford a 3-1 lead.
The Canucks’ third straight goal drew a “Wolf, you suck” chant from the crowd.
Midway through the period, the Wranglers’ leading scorer of the regular season helped put Calgary within a goal, entering the zone down the right side before dropping off for a one-timer from Nick DeSimone.
Jeremy Colliton likely won’t like the timing of his group’s line change, especially without possession while facing a rush through the neutral zone. Spencer Martin won’t like giving up another goal under his blocker side for the second time this series.
After being mostly out of the opening ten minutes of the final period, the Wranglers’ seemingly woke up, refreshed, recharged, within arms reach of another tie game and another potential overtime.
Off a d-zone entry from Walker Duehr, the game started to get chippy once more, with Marc Gatcomb and Noah Juulsen throwing the body around.
Because Duehr’s entry was ruled offside, Duehr and Juulsen’s post-entry scrum sent the game to 4-on-4 for the second time in the game. Neither team recorded a shot on goal, but it was a two-minute stretch punctuated by extensive possession from Calgary.
The frantic pace of the final 10 minutes saw the Canucks desperately searching for a second goal as the Wranglers pressured the Abbotsford d-zone with entry after entry and cycle chance after cycle chance.
Eventually, Abbotsford sprang forward for a two-on-one, only for Nielsen to send his one-timer pass to Wouters off-target, resulting in a less-than-stellar shot attempt.
With 1:41 left in the period, Wranglers head coach Mitch Love called for a timeout ahead of a neutral zone faceoff draw. The Canucks hemmed Calgary in their zone for 20 seconds before Dustin Wolf left the net to hand Calgary an extra attacker.
Closeout time: Dowling, Rau, Bains, Wolanin, Woo
During the final minute, after Rau iced the puck shooting wide for the empty net, Martin was forced into making a dicey save on a shot that trickled through his crease.
Arshdeep Bains got the fans pumped with several timely blocks and a rinkwide clear with 11 seconds left in the game.
Over the final 20 minutes, the Canucks traded even goals and shots on net, finishing the game having outshot Calgary 30-27 across all situations.
After going down 0-2 in the series, the Farm just needed to take the series one game at a time.
It was a gutsy effort that saw its best players shine when they needed them most.
CanucksArmy’s three stars
Kyle Rau: the game-winning goal, an assist on Wolanin’s first goal of the post-season, 3 shots on net, and a laundry list of incredible shifts in the offensive zone that gave Abbotsford a shot.
Christian Wolanin: a goal and an assist, 4 shots on goal, PK and power play reps while eating tough minutes at 5v5 with a rookie d-partner.
Jack Rathbone or Arshdeep Bains: neither finished with points on the board, but played cool, calm, and collected in high-leverage minutes for Abbotsford, playing their best two-way games of the post-season on the PK, power play, and at even strength. Were it not for their steady play, this game may have gotten out of hand.
Spencer Martin: though the Nick DeSimone goal in the third period was ugly. Martin was stellar, facing an uncomfortably high number of scoring chances off the rush.
Abbotsford looks to keep their post-season alive, Friday at 7 PM, in game four of the series.
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