Instant Reaction: Canucks squander three goal lead en route to 4-3 OT loss to Avalanche

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
3 months ago
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Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Trent Leith is on The Stanchies, and as always, Mike Liu’s got you covered on The Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report!
Well this was about as good of a start as you can hope for if you’re the Canucks.
JT Miller opened the scoring just 24 seconds into the game to give the Canucks an early lead.
On his next shift, JT Miller set up Ilya Mikheyev for what will likely go down as the most relieving goal of Mikheyev’s career.
That’s Mikheyev’s first goal since December 17th, when he scored in the Canucks’ 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s been a long road for Mikheyev, who got his season off to a late start after needing to recover from the ACL surgery he received last season.
Before the end of the first, we saw an absolutely brutal hit from Josh Manson to JT Miller’s head.
Because Miller got up (we assume), it was just a two minute penalty instead of five. Rick Tocchet wasn’t happy about that, and neither were any of the Canucks fans in attendance, who were sure to let the officials know it.
Nonetheless, the Canucks entered the second period up by a pair of goals.
What made them so successful in the opening 20 minutes was what’s made them successful over this winning streak where they’ve allowed just three goals. Being first on pucks, defending as a five-man unit, limiting mistakes, forechecking like dogs on raw meat, and limiting space for the opposition.
They continued that to open the second period, and it resulted in an early goal for Nikita Zadorov to put the Canucks up by three in a hurry.
Zadorov’s work on the night wasn’t close to being done, of course, as Josh Manson’s headshot on Miller still hadn’t been answered for. Zadorov dropped the gloves with Manson, completing the Gordie Howe hat trick with the NHL’s All-time Gordie Howe hat-trick leader Rick Tocchet standing behind the Canucks’ bench.
Afterwards, we saw some game management, as Sam Lafferty drew a roughing penalty on Miles Wood that maybe shouldn’t have been called, which of course resulted in a 10-ply interference penalty called against Quinn Hughes on the ensuing power play to bring balance back to the force.
The Avs scored with 1.8 seconds remaining in the second to get on the board, and in the third, they pushed hard to make a game of this one. The Canucks went down to a 5-on-3 penalty kill, and it didn’t take long for Colorado to make them pay.
But let’s talk about how the Canucks ended up on that 5-on-3, because it really was the turning point. Obviously, we saw a vicious infraction earlier in the night when Josh Manson tried to concuss JT Miller, so with safety at the top of the officials’ minds, they were quick to crack down on this dangerous hook on Nathan MacKinnon from Ian Cole.
After looking so dominant through 40 minutes, the Canucks found themselves on their heels a bit as the Avs poured on the pressure. The Avs tied things up after a scramble play in front that resulted in Ross Colton shooting from his knees to tie things up at three apiece.
The Canucks got a power play opportunity just past the halfway mark of the third, but didn’t manage to convert. Late in the third, the Canucks seemed to get back to basics. We saw shorter shifts — as we did for most of the opening 40 minutes tonight — and more pace from the home team as they tried to win this one in regulation against a Western Conference foe.
Unfortunately, this one needed overtime. And even more unfortunate, Carson Soucy — who has been so great since returning from injury — took a delay of game penalty when he inadvertently put the puck over the glass to give Colorado a power play heading into OT.
As you may have guessed, the Avs scored. What you may not have guessed is that the shot went off Noah Juulsen and then off Valeri Nichuskin’s face before going into the back of the net.
The refs tonight? Not great. Sure. The Canucks’ lack of composure in closing this one out? Much, much worse. 4-3 Colorado final.
Some other thoughts on tonight’s game:
-I hope these two meet in a playoff series (preferably the Western Conference final). This game had a playoff-like feel, and it would be so fun to see these teams go head-to-head in a seven-game series at full health.
-JT Miller was a beast in every sense of the word tonight.
-I thought Elias Pettersson was a bit too careless with the puck on breakouts. On multiple occasions, it resulted in the Avs getting to extend their offensive zone time and pressure, which obviously isn’t a recipe for success.
-Casey DeSmith was solid in goal tonight. I have very few concerns about his ability to hold down the fort until Thatcher Demko returns.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!

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