Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Instant Reaction: Elias Pettersson scores 11th goal in 9 games as Canucks beat Coyotes
1 month ago
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! Wyatt Arndt is writing The Stanchies this evening and Mike Liu will have The Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report — out tomorrow morning.
It’s been a few days, but jog your memory a bit. The Canucks’ last game was on Monday. Notice we didn’t say Monday night. It was the final game of the club’s seven game road trip, and as expected, they looked sluggish before eventually running out of gas altogether. They were looking to start this five game homestand off on the right foot, to say the least.
And to start things off, the Canucks did just that. They were outplaying the Coyotes in every area of the ice, but Connor Ingram stood tall in goal for Arizona early on.
This game had some rough stuff early as well. As it so often does, it started with a clean — but apparently too hard — hit. This time, from Sam Lafferty. Arizona tough guy Liam O’Brien didn’t like this, and jumped off the Coyotes’ bench to drop the gloves with Lafferty as Lafferty was going off on a line change.
O’Brien was given a two minute minor for roughing as a result of his actions, but the O’Brien story doesn’t end there. While the Canucks continued to press and dominate the Coyotes, O’Brien decided to drop the gloves with a willing combatant: Nikita Zadorov.
Zadorov isn’t much of a fighter, but he is still a giant. So when they dropped the gloves, while Zadorov didn’t look super comfortable throwing punches, his big man instincts kicked in and the result was beating the doors of O’Brien and chirping a whole heck of a lot after that.
As you’ll see in The Stanchies later tonight, it appeared as though Brock Boeser opened the scoring immediately after this fight, but a soft goaltender interference call against JT Miller caused the goal to be waved off.
It certainly seemed like Miller was being pushed into the crease by the Arizona defenceman, but as we know, goaltender interference in the NHL is broken.
Later in the first, Elias Pettersson — who was later seen icing his right hand on the bench — opened the scoring for real after a Sean Durzi interference penalty put the Canucks on the power play. And what a shot it was, as Pettersson scores his 24th of the year.
Now, this next goal that came shortly after will be hyper-analyzed quite a bit. It came off the stick of Travis Dermott and was the result of Arizona managing to force Demko to move east-west — something Tocchet has stressed many times that he’d like his team to limit.
Some commenters have pointed out that I’ve been too hard on Andrei Kuzmenko in recent games, so here’s my effort to do the opposite.
On this goal, the majority of the discourse on Twitter was that this was Kuzmenko’s fault. And while Tocchet certainly wasn’t thrilled with Kuzmenko on this play (Kuzmenko went nine minutes into the second period before getting another shift), it wasn’t all on him. Filip Hronek, and to a lesser extent, Carson Soucy are certainly part of the problem on this goal. Should Kuzmenko have picked up Dermott? Absolutely. But was it all on him? No, it wasn’t.
On his second shift of the second period, Kuzmenko had a brain fart and made a tape-to-tape pass to Clayton Keller instead of breaking the puck out of the Canucks’ end:
BUT! Kuzmenko also created some offence at the other end of the ice, so it wasn’t all bad. Look, I’m trying to not be too negative towards this player, okay? Sure enough, Kuzmenko did not see a shift in the third period as the Canucks looked to protect the lead.
We need to offer an update on Liam O’Brien, who continued to embarrass himself, even after getting his face beat in by Zadorov:
The Canucks continued to press, and while they looked good on each of their four power plays through the opening 40 minutes, Pettersson’s goal was the only Canucks goal with the man advantage.
Dakota Joshua scored a 5v5 goal in the final minute of the period to send the Canucks to the locker room with the lead.
The Canucks were in protect mode, a mode they’ve had plenty of success in this season. The Canucks were 26-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes heading into tonight’s game, and that one blemish came when they lost in a shootout after completely running out of gas in the final game of their road trip.
Halfway into the third, the Canucks got another power play opportunity and a prime opportunity to put this game away. And while this looked like a great opportunity for Andrei Kuzmenko to touch the ice for the first time in the third, it was Pius Suter that hopped over the boards with the Canucks’ first power play unit. The Canucks didn’t convert, and back at 5v5, continued to play their brand of hockey that has been so conducive to protecting leads this season.
But, yeah, it’s hard to ignore that Andrei Kuzmenko continues to be a player that Tocchet feels he can’t trust.
As pointed out by CanucksArmy’s own Jeff Paterson, Kuzmenko’s ice time tonight consisted of 5:39 on the power play, 5:23 at even strength, and absolutely nothing in the third period.
How does that make you feel as a fan? That’s what I’m most curious to hear about in the comments section below! Let me know your instant reaction tonight!
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