Photo credit:X/ Abbotsford Canucks
The Farmies: Nikita Tolopilo makes 31 saves in Abbotsford Canucks’ 3-2 shootout win
By Dave Hall3 months ago
The Abbotsford Canucks returned to Henderson for an afternoon match, just hours after securing their fourth consecutive win in a spirited overtime battle on Friday evening.
This game presented an opportunity for either team to leapfrog the other, as they were both tied for second in the Pacific Division with 19 points, respectively.
The Canucks are enjoying an impressive month, boasting a four-game winning streak and collecting eight out of a possible 10 points in November. They’ve outscored their opponents 15-8 during this span.
Sure enough, the only loss that they have suffered this month came at the hands of this very Henderson Silver Knights team, back on November 3rd – which happened to be the last game that Nikita Tolopilo saw action.
Speaking of which, the 23-year-old netminder was set to get the nod in this one. He’s allowed four (or more) goals in each of his last three matches, so he will look to bounce back and return to his early-season form.
After getting back Vasily Podkolzin and Chase Wouters last night, Tristen Nielsen is set to draw back into the lineup after suffering a concussion over a month ago. Before the injury, he had four points across three games, which included a hat-trick in game two of the season.
Danila Klimovich drew out of the lineup in this one. While it is unclear whether he was a healthy scratch or not, he did take a puck to the face in the second period in Friday’s matchup but did return to the lineup for the third period.
Given the budding rivalry between these two teams, the game was expected to feature intense battles and physical play.
Let’s see how it went down.
If the first minute of play was any indication, it was shaping up to be a challenging night for the Canucks.
The Silver Knights applied early pressure, pinning them in their zone for the first minute and securing the game’s first shot.
Don’t worry, it did not last long.
Less than two minutes into the opening frame, before the Canucks could register their first shot on net, Lukas Cormier of the Knights took a tripping penalty, granting them their first power play of the night.
Tristen Nielsen, in his return, joined the Aatu Räty, Linus Karlsson, Max Sasson, and Filip Johansson on the club’s opening unit.
It was the top unit, highlighted by Vasily Podkolzin and Arshdeep Bains, that carried on from their terrific movement in Friday’s match, snapping the puck around and utilizing the bumper to perfection.
Unfortunately, despite six shots on net, they were stymied on the man advantage yet again.
This extended their horrid luck as of late, as they have now gone 20 consecutive power plays without a goal. Honestly, both units look great, they just cannot seem to find the back of the net these days.
The next few minutes did not see many opportunities, as both exchanged neutral zone stalemates.
Don’t tell that to Tristen Nielsen, though, who was doing his part to try and ignite his team. Much like usual, he was throwing his weight around and giving his opponents a headache all night.
Clearly, he hasn’t missed a beat.
Shortly after, he disrupted a prime 2-on-1 scoring chance.
Keep an eye on number 84 here, as he hustles to get back on the odd-man rush. Despite stumbling on the way, he manages to provide a huge stick lift, breaking up the puck and turning the play over for a potential opportunity.
It’s safe to say they have missed his hound-dog presence.
GOAL – 1-0 Abbotsford Canucks: Aatu Räty from Max Sasson and Cole McWard
Following some excellent pressure from Max Sasson, he was able to win the puck battle and shovel it towards the net, where Aatu Räty was there to clean things up for his fourth of the season.
This line continues to dominate and with this goal, both Sasson and Räty have now combined for 10 points over the last five games. They are producing on a nightly basis and maintaining status as the club’s most consistent trio each shift (including Linus Karlsson)
As for McWard, this was his first point in eight games, and just the fourth of his young AHL career.
Similar to what we witnessed on Friday, the teams got involved in some extracurriculars to close out the period. Of course, as he did on Friday, Sheldon Dries found himself right in the middle of the madness.
Thanks to the antics at the end of the first frame, the teams began the second stanza skating 4v4.
This time, the Canucks took their turn at killing momentum, as Vasily Podkolzin took an interference call just 1:30 into the second stanza.
Friday saw the Canucks not only score a shorthanded goal – thanks, Sheldon Dries – but saw several opportunities and odd-man rushes despite being the man down.
Well, tonight was no different.
On this penalty, it was them who generated the bulk of the chances. On two occasions, they forced turnovers and initiated shorthanded odd-man rushes the other way.
The first one involved Nils Åman, who gave it to defenseman Quinn Schmiemann for a prime opportunity.
Just 30 seconds later, Linus Karlsson and Aatu Räty combined for their own opportunity, but Kalrsson was shut down after a nice cut-in move.
Of course, shorthanded breaks are fantastic, but what happens when you don’t capitalize and it turns the other way?
You guessed it, a glorious chance the other way.
Shockingly, the Knights never actually got a shot off here, despite the short 2-on-0 breakthrough. However, it does not bode well to be allowing up such opportunities while a man is down. Their defence has been somewhat suspect all season long, and it’s situations such as this that a blaring examples of why.
Midway through the first, Matt Irwin was taken off for tripping, and the Knights continued to press to try and tie things up.
This time, it was former Canuck Sheldon Rempal causing all of the chaos and forcing Tolopilo to make not only one but two point-blank saves to keep this game in check.
Tolopilo was looking strong midway through the frame and was certainly bailing them out of a few defensive breakdowns.
And it’s a good thing because shortly after, with just under eight minutes remaining, the “trio” was at it again.
GOAL – 2-0 Abbotsford Canucks: Max Sasson from Aatu Räty and Linus Karlsson
This goal started just a little bit before the clip began, as things turned over in their end. The threesome broke out as a unit, and Räty and Karlsson exchanged a nice give-and-go, which led to a solid save by Knights’ netminder, Jordan Papirny.
Luckily, good things happen if you stick with it, and Karlsson continued to dig for the puck, allowing Sasson to grab the puck and circle.
It’s clear he was looking to reach his partner with the pass, but let’s just say that he meant to bank that puck off of the defender for his sixth of the season.
That’s 17 points over five games for this trio.
GOAL – 2-1 Henderson Silver Knights: Mason Geertsen from Mason Primeau
Three minutes later, the Silver Knights managed to crack Tolopilo on their 22nd shot of the night.
Legend has it that the netminder is still looking behind his back, wondering how that puck snuck through him. The Belorussian did a good job at covering the post and seemingly did everything correctly, but still, he wasn’t able to hang on.
Despite minutes of sustained pressure in the last three minutes, the Canucks couldn’t extend the lead and would head into the room with a 2-1 lead.
There is no way to sugarcoat this, but the third frame was uneventful.
Despite two solid saves by Nikita Tolpilo, neither team was able to muster up much in the pressure or shot department.
One thing to note was the absence of Arshdeep Bains on the ice during the third period.
The reason remains unclear, however, the team has a full week off until their next game, providing ample time for recovery if Bains happens to be banged up at all.
After nearly an entire period of subpar hockey, the intensity quickly turned up in the final five minutes.
Sheldon Rempal, who had been buzzing around the net throughout the game, capitalized on the Canucks’ lapse in coverage, finding himself alone in the slot and making them pay for it.
GOAL – 2-2 Henderson Silver Knights: Sheldon Rempal from Tyler Benson
Both teams continued to press, and the next three minutes would see the most action it had seen in ages.
Following a terrible Matt Irwin giveaway in his own side of center ice, Silver Knights’ Tyler Benson nearly hit the top corner on a backhand. However, it sailed just above, missing by inches to keep things going.
Seconds later, on the transition, Linus Karlsson showcased a quick dipsy-doodle to get past the defender (twice) and delivered a slick backhand dish to Åman, but the puck bobbled on him.
Both teams came inches away from putting this game away.
The final minute amounted to nothing, and for the second night in a row, we’re heading to overtime.
Just 20 seconds into the extra frame, the Canucks were handed a glorious opportunity as Jett Woo grabbed the puck to find Sheldon Dries in the slot…
But wait, the whistle was blown down, and Woo was handed a two-minute penalty for cross-checking.
Woo did not agree with the call and spent minutes arguing his case. As a result, the referees put an end to it, handing him a 10-minute misconduct to effectively end his evening.
The defender certainly went down a little easy, and if the play did not amount to a prime opportunity, the whistle likely stays in the pocket.
The best, and only real chance came midway through the frame, where the Knights had a wide-open net, but the bouncing puck saved the day.
The Canucks got lucky here. They had several opportunities to clear the puck leading to this opportunity but continued to fan on attempts.
Thank goodness for bad ice conditions.
Overtime wasn’t enough to get things figured out, so we’re heading to a shootout!
The first two attempts by each team were not worth showing, as no one seemed to be able to collect a shot.
However, Tolopilo made his best save of the night on Brendan Brisson, who scored twice on Friday night.
That led to this…
What did I say earlier? Leave it to Tristen Nielsen.
In his return to the lineup, he calls the game with a silky move to stretch out the netminder.
GOAL – 3-2 Abbotsford Canucks: Tristen Nielsen
Abbotsford Canucks defeat the Henderson Silver Knights 3-2 in a shootout.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
Tonight’s third star goes to Aatu Raty, who continues to impress these days. He picked up two points, including his fourth goal of the year, and continued his successful stint alongside Max Sasson and Linus Karlsson.
The second star goes to his linemate, Max Sasson, who also grabbed a goal and an assist, and continues to play a strong two-way game as a rookie AHL centerman. He also produced five shots tonight.
Getting back on track was Niktia Tolopilo, who made 31 saves and steered the ship back on course after suffering three straight losses. He appeared back to his initial form, where he displayed a cool, calm demeanour and made several key stops to keep his team alive and lead this team to their fifth consecutive win. He is your CanucksArmy First Star.
Next up on the Docket
The Abbotsford Canucks get a full week off as they head to Calgary to take on the Pacific Divisions top ranked Wranglers next Saturday at 12:00 pm PST.
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