The Farmies: Nikita Tolopilo makes 34 saves and Vasily Podkolzin scores again to defeat Colorado in overtime

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
6 months ago
Hang on, Canucks’ nation was gifted TWO games to watch on Frozen Frenzy night?!
What a time to be alive, folks!
While the big club battled hard to finish their Eastern road trip with a 3-2 defeat of the Nashville Predators, the AHL squad put on another ho-hum performance, getting shelled on home ice by their Pacific Division rival only to get bailed out by a stellar goaltending performance from Nikita Tolopilo.
I’m not going to lie to you; if you wanted to skip down to the comment section for this one, I wouldn’t blame you. Abbotsford looked rough. For their third straight game, fourth in five, the Farm was thoroughly outplayed at 5-on-5. Thus far, they have been outshot 121 to 99 at 5-on-5 and 174 to 156 across all situations. It’s been ugly! Fortunately, the Farm has been converting on 14.39% of their shots on goal, the third-best rate in the entire AHL.
If that dries up, though, like it did against Colorado, things could start to get ugly!
But enough of the doom and gloom! The Abbotsford Canucks won, somehow! Let’s see how they did it!
Starting Lineup
Nikita Tolopilo got his second start of the season after Arturs Silovs’ less-than-stellar showing over the weekend against Calgary. Despite blocking a brutal-looking slap shot with his ankle in Saturday’s thrilling comeback overtime loss, Nils Äman missed no time at all, centring Abbotsford’s first line after spending Saturday lined up with Arshdeep Bains and Josh Bloom.
Danila Klimovich missed his third straight game. According to ChekTV’s Rick Dhaliwal, Klimovich was a healthy scratch for last Friday’s game against Calgary, then missed Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury that carried over into Tuesday’s action.
Game #5
1st period
Colorado’s Joel Kiviranta tested Tolopilo early, launching a sharp-angle shot on the 6’5″ Belarussian just 11 seconds into the game.
The early-goings weren’t great for Abbotsford, as Colorado dominated possession inside the offensive zone, outshooting the Canucks 7-2 through the opening five minutes. The best look for Abbotsford came off a play driven by Vasily Podkolzin.
After entering the zone off an end-to-end rush, Podkolzin reached cross-ice to Christian Wolanin, who attempted to set up Sheldon Dries with a mid-air tap-in at the side of the net.
A few shifts later, Marc Gatcomb forced a giveaway while forechecking behind the Eagles’ goal line. Gatcomb managed to hook the puck back to John Stevens at the front of the net for Abbotsford’s third shot of the period.
As the Eagles picked Abbotsford apart with their speed, Nikita Tolopilo lost his stick, forcing him to make a stop using Dries’ stick.
The second decent scoring chance of Abbotsford’s came off an excellent piece of puck protection in the offensive zone from Aidan McDonough. After moving down low to support Chase Wouters on the forecheck, McDonough took the puck around the endboards, shielding the puck the entire way, before dishing the puck back to Jett Woo for a shot on net.
Though Abbotsford was outclassed during the opening 10 minutes, the pairing of Woo and Wolanin seemed to always figure in the offensive end of the ice. Woo followed up the above shift with a second shift spent inside the offensive zone, launching another point shot attempt before backchecking through the neutral zone to drill Cedric Pare with a hard shoulder-to-shoulder hit at the Canucks’ blue line.
The brief offensive zone work from Abbotsford around the perimeter was few and far between. Colorado’s speed gave the home team fits. Were it not for Tolopilo standing on his head, the Canucks could’ve found themselves in a deep hole.
A lapse in coverage with less than six minutes remaining saw Tolopilo make a highway robbery on Oskar Olausson look all too easy.
It was a quiet period for everyone, especially the defensive pair of Cole McWard and Akito Hirose. The most that occurred during that pair’s minutes was a crisp rinkwide feed from Hirose to Linus Karlsson at the Eagles’ blue line that eventually led to a sharp-angle shot attempt from Max Sasson.
In the final minute of the period, Chase Wouters took a hooking penalty to give Colorado a late power play opportunity. But it was the Abbotsford Canucks who took advantage!
Colliton’s PK units were as follows:
  • Sheldon Dries and John Stevens with Jett Woo and Christian Wolanin
  • Aatu Räty and Nils Äman with Filip Johansson and Matt Irwin
GOAL – 1-0 Abbotsford Canucks: John Stevens from Christian Wolanin
While racing behind the goal line for a puck retrieval, Jett Woo got away with a clear interference penalty, hitting the brakes to throw a reverse hit on Ben Meyers outside of Tolopilo’s net. With no Eagles player near the puck, Wolanin hooked the puck around the boards, deflecting off Caleb Jones to John Stevens, who raced end to end with Arshdeep Bains to score his first of the season.
Following Stevens’ goal, the Canucks won the centre-ice faceoff, calmly controlling the puck to deny Colorado any looks in the dying seconds of the period.
2nd period
Abbotsford’s started the middle frame by effectively killing off Wouters’ penalty before drawing a slashing minor against Henry Bowlby to earn a power play of their own.
Unfortunately, the power play accomplished quite literally nothing: zero shots on net and next to no time spent in the offensive zone. Then, a pair of unfortunate misplays from Filip Johansson and Max Sasson gave Colorado the equalizer.
First, a missed drop pass at the Colorado blue line saw Riley Tufte cruise past Johansson toward Tolopilo for a dangerous chance.
Then, Johansson made the baffling decision to attempt a d-zone exit as Max Sasson skated the puck into danger, just outside the Canucks blue line, gifting Tufte a second breakaway and the equalizer.
GOAL 1-1 TIE: Riley Tufte
Past the midway point of the period, Josh Bloom drew a tripping penalty against Nate Clurman to give Abbotsford their second power play of the night.
Colliton rolled out the following units for his power play:
  • Nils Äman, Vasily Podkolzin, Sheldon Dries, Arshdeep Bains, and Christian Wolanin
  • Aidan McDonough, Max Sasson, Linus Karlsson, Filip Johansson, and Akito Hirose
The Canucks’ best look on the man advantage came from a rinkwide feed from Hirose to Sasson, resulting in a rush chance and shot into Justus Annunen’s glove.
The period wound down with not much happening for Abbotsford. Through 40 minutes, Colorado held the edge in shots, 28 to 17.
3rd period
Similar to how the second period finished, the third period began with very little action. A tripping penalty against Hirose gave Colorado their second power play of the game, which saw Abbotsford successfully defend against the man advantage, punctuated by Mr. Cool-as-a-cucumber Nikita Tolopilo making his 30th save of the game.
With 12 seconds left in the Eagles’ power play, Aatu Räty sold a bump on a blue line entry defence to draw an interference penalty that gave Abbotsford a third power play opportunity. Despite some sexy-looking rushes from Arshdeep Bains and Aidan McDonough, the Canucks power play struggled to muster anything remotely dangerous. After finally establishing a cycle in the waning seconds of the power play, Bains immediately blew the zone with an errant pass out of Wolanin’s reach at the blue line.
Like the team’s play at 5v5 through much of the game. It was frustrating to watch.
Despite two power plays through the first ten minutes in a tie game, both teams combined for just four shots on net. The best chance of the period didn’t come until the 10:26 mark of the period when Aidan McDonough weaved through traffic to pass cross-ice to Wolanin for a shot off Annunen’s blocker.
The Eagles began looking to stretch the ice with Johansson and Irwin on the ice. Henry Bowlby caught a pass in the neutral zone and nearly burst past Johansson through centre-ice. Fortunately, the rookie defenceman did well to stick with the play to prevent a quality scoring chance.
With Wolanin and Woo on the ice, Abbotsford finally generated some sustained offensive zone time. Wolanin went for a lengthy skate around the offensive zone, which threw the Eagles’ d-zone coverage into total disarray. After drawing four Colorado skaters to the right wing, Wolanin dished a terrific cross-ice pass to Arshdeep Bains for a blocked shot attempt.
Though exciting, the Canucks’ sustained offensive zone sequence resulted in zero shots on goal. The Eagles’ stifled the Canucks’ best try of the evening by forcing Abbotsford into weak shooting lanes from the perimeter, executing timely blocks and clearances.
Again, frustrating to watch.
Unfortunately, after a thrilling seven-shot final period, this game went to overtime.
Nils Äman and Sheldon Dries combined to nearly end OT early.
Dries’ backhand attempt led to a line change, where the trio of Arshdeep Bains, Jett Woo, and Vasily Podkolzin spent nearly two minutes hemmed inside the d-zone. Fortunately, they recovered, after which Linus Karlsson led a rush chance alongside Akito Hirose.
The Karlsson-Hirose drive gave way to a dangerous 2-on-1 chance and shot on goal from Colorado’s Caleb Jones.
Then, with one second left in the game, Vasily Podkolzin remembered that he was better than this, driving down the left wing and going backhand on Annunen to win the game.
GOAL – 2-1 Abbotsford Canucks: Vasily Podkolzin from Christian Wolanin and Arshdeep Bains
Ironically, the game-winning goal and most exciting moment of the game came less than a minute after AHLtv’s broadcast feed cut out.
Ain’t that some sh*t?
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
Nikita Tolopilo was the easy choice for the first star of the game. The team in front of him laid a complete egg, subjecting him to his second straight start with 35 or more shots against. He was excellent, cool, calm, collected, and poised under duress. Despite the skaters in front of him failing to keep pace with Colorado’s skaters, Tolopilo never let the Eagles’ relentless pressure result in a build-up of momentum.
Vasily Podkolzin was an easy choice for the second star of the game. He finished the game with the second-highest shots on net (3) and scored a beauty of a game-winner.
Christian Wolanin picked up his 100th and 101st career AHL assist with his two-point performance. Considering the Canucks were only inside the offensive zone whenever he was on the ice, Wolanin, as our third-star selection, was an easy choice.
Next up on the docket
The Abbotsford Canucks run it back against the Eagles tomorrow at 7 PM.

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