The Farmies: Nikita Tolopilo stands on head as Abbotsford gets outshot 45-12 in 3-2 loss to Manitoba

Photo credit:© David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
3 months ago
The Abbotsford Canucks have lost their thirteenth straight first leg of a back-to-back series.
The last time they won the first game of a back-to-back was on December 28th, 2023, when they defeated the Calgary Wranglers 4-3 in overtime.
Thirteenth straight.
I mean, my bitter tone will ultimately mean nothing come Sunday when they answer back with a victory, as they’ve done in the last three straight-second legs of a back-to-back.
Let’s get this one over with, shall we?
Starting Lineup
The good news ahead of the game was that Guillaume Brisebois’s injury during last Saturday’s game against the Henderson Silver Knights was not concussion-related. He returned to the lineup for an ailing McWard, who slid out of the lineup due to an undisclosed injury.
The bad news was Elias Pettersson (d prospect) remained a healthy scratch, presumably still acclimating to the rigours of AHL hockey.
Game #61
1st period
It was a sleepy start to this early afternoon, with neither team registering a shot on goal through the first four minutes of play.
The Canucks first real shot attempt came Chase Wouters, who spun off his check along the half wall before cutting to the net for a one-timer on Dmitri Zlodeev’s centring pass.
The sequence was nothing fancy. It’s just a quality forechecking effort from Wouters and another well-anticipated play from Zlodeev, who picked up Wouters’ shuffling pass behind Thomas Milic’s net and quickly spun to set up Wouters for the scoring chance.
Following a TV timeout, Zlodeev nearly gave himself Abbotsford’s first shot on goal of the night with his excellent forechecking effort.
While pressing deep into the offensive zone, ex-Canuck Ashton Sautner turned the puck up ice, only to clip the referee’s skate. The puck then bounced fortuitously to Zlodeev inside the slot, where he hammered a slap shot off Sautner’s stick and wide of Milic’s right post.
The Meese then got their best chance of the period, with Parker Ford rifling a shot off the crossbar.
Midway through the first, Manitoba’s Dominic Toninato took a holding penalty against Nick Cicek, giving Abbotsford the game’s first power play. Unfortunately, Abbotsford struggled to match the success of last Sunday’s absurdly efficient 83.3% efficacy rate.
Colliton rolled out power play units as follows:
  • Karlsson, Räty, Dries, Nielsen, and Johansson
  • Bains, Sasson, Wouters, McDonough, and Woo
Upon the reset at 5-on-5, Kyle Capobianco broke both Linus Karlsson and Tristen Nielsen’s ankles while toe-dragging around the offensive zone, leading to the opening goal for Manitoba.
1-0 Moose: Manitoba Goal, Kyle Capobianco from Dawson Barteaux and Nikita Chibrikov
The back half of the opening frame was similar to the first, with Abbotsford struggling to break through Manitoba’s neutral zone defence to generate meaningful shots on goal. The Canucks only two looks of the period came from fortunate bounces off failed passes by the Moose defence.
With four minutes to go, Jett Woo bumped Nikita Chibrikov following a save by Nikita Tolopilo, resulting in a little brouhaha.
Abbotsford’s ability to stuff Manitoba’s cycle and control the neutral zone was nonexistent.
Fortunately, the ref’s ability to issue the correct slashing penalty was equally as nonexistent! Akito Hirose executed a rather weak pass through the neutral zone before making a chance for Matt Irwin. His pass was immediately stolen by Jeffrey Viel, who drew a slash on his breakaway attempt from Dmitri Zlodeev. Ty Glover, who was the fourth skater into the zone, somehow got assessed for the slash, giving Manitoba their first power play of the game.
Woo then drew a holding-the-stick penalty against Viel less than 22 seconds into the Meese’s power play, pushing the game to a 4-on-4 state.
Following the back-to-back infractions, neither team generated shots on net, and Abbotsford finished the opening frame down on the scoreboard while being outshot 13 to 2.
2nd period
Three minutes into the middle frame, the Canucks had doubled their shot total from two to four.
Then, Jett Woo threw a reverse hit into Nicholas Jones while racing for a puck retrieval. The refs thought Woo got his elbow too high on the drive, even though Woo’s shoulder connected with Jones’ chest first. Abbotsford was off to their second PK of the game, and the sixth-worst power play in the AHL got to work.
With three seconds left in the man advantage, Guillaume Brisebois, Matt Irwin, and John Stevens left Kristian Reichel alone in the slot, giving way to the Meese’s second of the night.
2-0 Moose: Manitoba Goal, Kristian Reichel from Jeffrey Viel and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
Thirty seconds later, the Canucks halved the Meese’s lead thanks to one of those previously mentioned flubbed passes from the Manitoba defence.
With Marc Gatcomb and Max Sasson forechecking deep into the Moose’s zone, Manitoba’s Simon Lundmark through a pass up the middle right to Jett Woo. The hometown kid immediately played Lundmark’s gaffe up to Sasson, who rifled the puck past Milic on Abbotsford’s fifth shot of the game.
2-1 Moose: Abbotsford Goal, Max Sasson from Jett Woo
Two minutes later, John Stevens drew a tripping penalty against Manitoba’s Tyrel Bauer to give Abbotsford a third power play opportunity.
Manitoba won a couple of puck battles in the d-zone to help Abbotsford’s power play start as poorly as a power play could conceivably start. Then Nikita Tolopilo missed a dump-in, nearly giving way to a shorthanded goal from Jeff Viel.
Miraculously, the cooler heads of Abbotsford’s PP1 prevailed and equalized moments later, thanks to some crafty puckhandling work from Linus Karlsson.
2-2 Tie: Abbotsford Goal, Linus Karlsson from Aatu Räty and Filip Johansson
It was a tough sequence for Manitoba’s Simon Lundmark, who was directly responsible for both of Abbotsford’s goals. After exchanging above the dots, Aatu Räty played the puck down low to Karlsson, who swung the puck to the crease for a tap-in opportunity. Lundmark slid down to stifle Karlsson’s pass but accidentally kicked the puck back to Karlsson. Karlsson quickly settled the puck to roof it over a sprawled-out Milic’s right shoulder for the equalizer.
Two goals on two shots—PDO things, baby!
Lundmark attempted to absolve himself with a dangerous step-in one-timer from the right circle.
Tolopilo was sharp for Abbotsford during the first two periods. Abbotsford only had a two-goal deficit to battle back from, thanks to Tolopilo’s work between the pipes.
The Canucks lost a comical amount of puck battles on Saturday, resulting in a litany of rush chances for the Meese. On top of making the initial rush stops, Tolopilo was tasked with two or three follow-up saves from nearly every Manitoba cycle. Abbotsford simply could not settle the puck cleanly for a breakout or a cycle of their own. They were bad.
Like, really bad.
The middle frame saw Abbotsford outscore Manitoba 2-1 despite getting outshot 21 to 6.
Through 40 minutes, they had been outshot 35 to 8.
3rd period
The third period began as the previous two had, with Abbotsford late to pucks, losing battles, conceding pressure in all areas of the ice, and Tolopilo bailing his team out with timely saves.
Five minutes into the period, Jonsson-Fjallby set Brad Lambert up with a brilliant pass to the front of the net. Fortunately for Tolopilo, Lambert didn’t get under the puck enough to lift it over his pads.
A minute later, John Stevens obliterated Henri Nikkanen’s stick with a slash, giving Manitoba a critical third power play opportunity.
The Meese nearly converted in the first ten seconds, with Nikita Chbrikov setting up Parker Ford with a brilliant centring pass from the left circle. Once again, Tolopilo held strong to keep the game knotted at two.
Seconds later, the Meese eclipsed the 40-shot marker with Jeff Malott hammering a rebound off Tolopilo’s right pad.
Manitoba was all over Abbotsford on the man advantage. The Moose’ cycle only relented after Nick Cicek blocked a shot, deflecting it out of the zone to earn a stoppage.
The Canucks’ killed the penalty, but seconds after it expired, Jeffrey Viel broke the stalemate with a sneaky no-look wrister through Tolopilo’s pads.
3-2 Moose: Manitoba Goal, Jeffrey Viel from Dominic Toninato and Kyle Capobianco
Viel’s shot was his ninth of the game to that point and the Moose’s 43rd of the game.
Trailing by a goal, the Canucks pressed and pressed, and pressed, and eventually, that effort paid off with their second shot of the period, 12 minutes after their first.
Admirable, commendable stuff against the final seed of the Central Division side of the Calder Cup Playoff bracket.
With five minutes left in the period, Brad Lambert took a hooking penalty to give the Canucks’ power play a fourth and final try.
Their best chance, a wrister from Räty down the left wing would stand as their only shot on goal with the man advantage.
The Canucks complete inability to move their feet or win a puck battle prompted Colliton not even to bother pulling Tolopilo for a 6-on-4 man advantage. Only with three minutes left in the period and the game back at 5-on-5 did Colliton bother with a six-man unit.
Yadda, yadda, yadda—Abbotsford didn’t get a shot on goal and lost another first leg of a back-to-back.
Final score
Manitoba Moose defeated the Abbotsford Canucks 3-2.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
All three stars belong to Nikita Tolopilo: 42 saves on 45 shots.
Next up on the Docket
The Abbotsford Canucks return tomorrow afternoon, where they will undoubtedly look like a completely different team and probably win by some outrageous scoreline.

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