Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Instant Reaction: Pius Suter secures a point for Vancouver with third period hat-trick in overtime loss to St. Louis
27 days 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 in the comments section below! Wyatt Arndt is on Stanchies duty and Mike Liu will have The Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post-game report — up tomorrow morning.
Wednesday night’s start against the St. Louis Blues was similar to the club’s start against the Chicago Blackhawks, just without the scoring.
The Canucks dominated possession and shot attempts through the opening 10 minutes but struggled to get pucks on net.
Perhaps they were adjusting to the glare/glint reflecting off their new shiny chrome blue—er, sorry—metallic blue helmets. Midway through the first, the Canucks held a 4-zip shot advantage, an 11-2 attempt advantage, and a 7-1 scoring chance advantage. It was as dominant as the Canucks have looked all season without their patented shooting luck.
Then, after dominating play for nearly 14 minutes straight, the Blues opened the scoring on just their second shot of the game.
It was a regrettable sequence for J.T. Miller, who attempted a breakout pass from behind the goal line but whiffed on the attempt. Robert Thomas managed to bat the puck out of mid-air back to the blue line, where Pius Suter missed a potential clearing attempt with a sweep of his stick. Jake Neighbours brought the puck down from the blue line, shaking Miller’s challenge at the left circle to set up a give-and-go play with Thomas, who still sat parked at the Canucks’ blue line.
Jake Neighbours then continued his reign of terror in Vancouver, setting up Pavel Buchnevich for a tap-in along the goal line to put the Blues up by two.
At the conclusion of the 1st period, Kuzmenko spent a cool 45 seconds sitting on the bench with his head down. An omen for things to come…
The Canucks then got a freebie four minutes into the second period when a goal from Brayden Schenn was waived off after the refs dinged Jake Neighbours for cross-checking Ian Cole outside Casey DeSmith’s crease.
The first power play unit, featuring Pius Suter in Andrey Kuzmenko’s spot, played 1:40 together and generated a few shot attempts, but nothing dangerous. Interestingly, for the final 20 seconds of power play time, Rick Tocchet ran a group featuring Nikita Zadorov and Filip Hronek on the blue line.
Seconds after the power play expired, Andrey Kuzmenko did the absolute last thing a guy in the doghouse should do and high-sticked Sammy Blais so hard that he drew blood.
Amazingly, the Canucks killed the entire four-minute power play, allowing just a single shot on goal!
Kuzmenko led an odd-man rush immediately after leaving the box, which led to a run of possession for Vancouver inside the Blues’ zone. The Blues iced the puck, and Miller fired a rocket off the crossbar on the next regroup from Vancouver.
It was a strange time for Canucks fans as they watched their club playing from behind, something they haven’t had to do since playing, well, the Blues, back on January 4th.
The haunted shift clock made several appearances throughout the back half of the second period following the Canucks’ PK effort. The Blues were on their heels as the Canucks dominated the shot and chance clock.
Unfortunately, a stoppage in play following a stalled 50/50 battle in the Canucks’ d-zone resulted in a momentum-killing commercial break, that allowed the Blues to get their legs underneath them for the final few minutes of the period.
Despite putting the Canucks on a four-minute PK, Kuzmenko saw action late in the period on a line with Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev. Though his defensive effort during the Canucks’ attempt to swing momentum in their favour was not exactly encouraging. I know instant reaction isn’t for the GIFs or the commentary, but just a raw summary. But watch #96 in the sequence below and tell us what you thought of his performance in the comment section.
Though the Canucks couldn’t find cut the Blues’ lead in the second, they found a way early in the third period, thanks to Pius Suter.
A mixup in coverage allowed Kevin Hayes to waltz away from Kuzmenko and away from Pettersson down the right wing for a goal-line pass to Alexei Toropchenko for a tap-in to regain the two-goal lead for St. Louis.
Even though the goal resulted from Zadorov reacting late, it was funny seeing him shake his gloves at Kuzmenko as if the coverage gaffe was his fault. Zadorov was benched for the remained of the period, with his only shift of the period coming during the Toropchenko goal sequence.
The two clubs then engaged in a PDO battle over the final stretch of the game, beginning with Pius Suter scoring his second goal of the game to put Vancouver back within arms reach.
With seven-and-a-half minutes left in the game, the Canucks had outshot the Blues by a two-to-one margin, 28 to 14.
The game got incredibly spicy late when Torey Krug got called for a blatant slash to the leg of Ilya Mikheyev. The Canucks power play went to work where they moved the puck very well but struggled again to get pucks on Joel Hofer.
Fortunately, after a timeout, with DeSmith pulled for the extra attacker, Pius Suter scored his third of the period for the hat-trick to send this one to overtime.
I wish this Instant Reaction ended with better news. Sadly, despite the valiant third-period comeback effort, the refs cost Vancouver an extra point in overtime off a brutal non-call on Brayden Schenn ahead of the game-winning goal.
I’m sure Wyatt will have more expansive thoughts on the game-winning sequence, but how Schenn got away with cross-checking Pettersson a mile away from the puck at the front of the net is beyond me.
It’s a brutal way to lose after a strong game from Vancouver while playing from behind for an uncharacteristic amount of time.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!
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