The Farmies: Chase Wouters ends Abbotsford’s power play scoring drought in overtime loss to Bakersfield
30 days ago
The Abbotsford Canucks 2024 slump era continued Friday night with a special teams-driven overtime loss to the Bakersfield Condors.
On the one hand, the club broke their power play scoring drought with not one but two PPGs! On top of that, their PK went six for seven against the AHL’s ninth-best power play!
On the other hand, the club went two for seven on the power play against the AHL’s seventh-worst penalty kill! On top of that, the club gave up their lone power play goal in overtime, giving their Pacific Division rival two points, enough to tie the Canucks in points percentage.
The Condors trail the Canucks by six points. However, the Condors have five games in hand and could quickly leapfrog Abbotsford for a top-five position in the Division. Especially if the Canucks can’t get out of this current losing slump or the Condors keep up their recent hot streak.
Sheldon Dries remained out of the lineup on Friday night with injury. Aidan McDonough slid out of the lineup for Ty Glover. The healthy scratch was McDonough’s second of the season. The 24-year-old winger has five goals and four assists through 31 games played. Alex Kannok Leipert continued to see action as a fourth-line forward, slotting in as the fourth-line center for the fourth time this season.
It was a bit of a snooze to start the first game of the Friday/Saturday back-to-back. It took about five minutes to get through the first two minutes of play. Both teams alternated deflecting pucks over the glass, accidental icings on attempted stretch passes, and well-wid shots caroming out of the zone into neutral territory. The result was a very awkwardly paced opening.
Fortunately, the Canucks got the better share of those missed shot attempts. Still, a tripping minor against Max Sasson past the six-minute mark of the period gave the Bakersfield Condors a power play opportunity and the game’s opening goal.
During the penalty kill, Colliton rolled out a first PK unit featuring John Stevens and Chase Wouters, with Nick Cicek on a pairing with Jett Woo. Wouters lost his stick off the d-zone faceoff, leading to a minute of possession time for Bakersfield. Only when a missed shot darted out of the zone were the Canucks able to execute a line change.
As noted in our weekly preview (please read the previews, folks. I have bills to pay), Tristen Nielsen featured on the second PK unit on a pairing with Arshdeep Bains. Interestingly, Nielsen was trusted on second-shift PK duty in a tie game as early into the game as they were.
That pairing may have given Colliton second thoughts about Nielsen’s role on the PK, as the Canucks were pinned into the d-zone chasing the Condors’ cycle for over a minute before ex-Canuck Lane Pederson opened the scoring.
Bakersfield Condors 1-0: Lane Pederson from Seth Griffith and Philip Broberg
It was a bit of a tough sequence for Nielsen as he attempted to chase down an errant pass from Pederson that appeared to be on its way out of the zone. The puck took a fortunate bounce off the wall to Philip Broberg, who corralled the puck through the middle to Seth Griffith, who slipped a pass under Filip Johansson for Pederson’s one-timer. Nielsen had the right idea chasing down the puck but didn’t react quickly enough to the change in direction; a collision with Griffith impeded his momentum and ability to rejoin the play, allowing the Condors to strike with numbers below the hashmarks.
Moments later, in a sequence that Jeremy Colliton will surely have thoughts on, the Canucks let Seth Griffith waltz through the middle of the ice unencumbered, almost leading to a second goal from Bakersfield.
Not great on the sequence was Danila Klimovich’s lack of skating to challenge Griffith from behind. Not great was Jett Woo’s accidental poke of the puck to Markus Niemelainen. Not great was Jermaine Loewen’s late reaction to Niemelainen’s swoop down the left wing. Not great was…well, most of it. Chase Wouters sweeping the puck out of the crease after Arturs Silovs failed to get a good hold on it? That was good, though!
Then with seven minutes left in the period, Max Sasson took his second penalty of the period to put the Canucks back on the PK.
For the PK-heads at home, here’s how the second PK shook loose:
- PK1: Wouters, Stevens, Woo, Cicek
- PK2: Räty, Bains, Johansson, Irwin
- PK3: Stevens, Bains, Johansson, Irwin
There was no Nielsen on the second PK, while Bains double-shifted for a full minute on the PK with Filip Johansson and Matt Irwin behind him.
Late in the frame, Bakersfield’s Brad Malone got caught holding Aatu Räty, sending the Canucks to the power play, unfortunately. For the Preview-heads (again, please read the weekly previews), Abbotsford’s power play ranks dead last in the AHL.
For their first power play of the game, the Abbotsford Canucks mustered a single shot on goal, which was a pretty great start by their power play’s standards of late. Vasily Podkolzin almost equalized off a fantastic no-look pass from Alex Kannok Leipert at the net front.
No, that’s not a typo. The Canucks power play units have been thrown in the Travis Green Line Blender™, with the second unit now featuring Sasson, Räty, Podkolzin, Johansson, and Kannok Leipert. And fair enough, the power play as a whole has been awful, so why not throw whatever at the wall and see what sticks? Were it not for a windmill glove save from Jack Campbell, this hodge-podge second unit could have broken the power play scoring drought!
A first unit featuring Bains, Wouters, Nielsen, Klimovich, and McWard played the final 40 seconds of power play time, resulting in a shot attempt from Danila Klimovich. The shaken-up power play units found some rhythm during their brief time on ice. That momentum carried into the dying minutes of the period and into the second, with Marc Gatcomb drawing a high-sticking penalty against Markus Niemelainen to send the Canucks back to the power play.
A point shot from Johansson closed the opening frame, with Abbotsford having outshot the Condors 11 to 6.
The Canucks began the middle frame with 1:20 to work with on the power play, but not before a second 15-minute+ delay between periods, resulting from a lengthy replacement of a pane of glass.
With the game resumed after a near-half-an-hour break, a miracle happened.
A miracle greater than the one at the 1980 Winter Olympics between Team USA and the Soviet Union.
Okay. Maybe not that great. But still pretty good when the Canucks’ power play came out firing off of the restart. After dominating inside of the offensive zone for over a minute, Aatu Räty drew a second holding penalty against Bakersfield’s Brad Malone to give Abbotsford a brief 5-on-3 followed by a third straight power play opportunity where they finally struck gold.
Abbotsford Goal 1-1 Tie: Chase Wouters from Tristen Nielsen and Arshdeep Bains
It was a simple sequence, with Bains and Nielsen exchanging at the right circle before Bains dished to Nielsen for a wrapper on Jack Campbell, resulting in a crash/bang goal from Chase Wouters on the doorstep.
Incredibly, the Condors decided to tempt fate once more when Lane Pederson took a slashing minor to give Abbotsford their fourth straight power play of the game, where they managed to score again!
Abbotsford Goal 2-1 Canucks: Vasily Podkolzin from Max Sasson and Aatu Räty
Now, as these things tend to go, the home team was rattled after conceding two power play goals to the worst power play team in the AHL, equalizing less than a minute later off a regrettably lazy defensive effort from a trio featuring Jett Woo, Nick Cicek, Ty Glover, John Stevens, and Marc Gatcomb.
Bakersfield goal 2-2 tie: Lane Pederson from Matvei Petrov and Ben Gleason
A few minutes later, after dominating the run of possession, Bakersfields’ Raphael Lavoie regained the lead with a piss-missile over Silovs’ glove side from the right circle.
Bakersfield Goal 3-2 Condors: Raphael Lavoie from Seth Griffith and Alex Peters
At the risk of having my tires slashed by the goalie guild, I’ll abstain from any commentary on Silovs allowing a third goal on his eighth shot faced.
Since I was on post-game duty and not Dave Hall, Podkolzin kept up his “noticeable moments/60” when he threw the puck over the glass while defending inside the d-zone, handing the Condors their third power play opportunity.
The Canucks successfully killed the penalty, with Tristen Nielsen noticeably getting mid-PK duty on a pairing with Chase Wouters.
*Nielsen Call-up watch intensifies*
Hilariously, after killing the penalty, Max Sasson took his third minor penalty of the game to send the Condors to their fourth power play opportunity. While Abbotsford held Bakersfield to zero shots during the Podkolzin minor, they weren’t as lucky during the second straight PK, with Bakersfield hammering Silovs with two shots and a half-dozen attempts, including a missile off the post and almost off Silovs’ back and into the net.
Kudos to Nick Cicek for spotting the puck and helping Silovs sweep the puck under himself as he sprawled out on his back.
Again, Vancouver goalie-guild, please don’t slash my tires.
With minutes left in the period, Podkolzin picked up his second point of the game after winning an offensive zone faceoff back to Filip Johansson, who scored his third goal of the season on a goal that only Jack Campbell, at this stage of his career, could let in.
Abbotsford Goal 3-3 Tie: Filip Johansson from Vasily Podkolzin
On the replay, it doesn’t look like Podkolzin gets a touch on the puck during the faceoff so that that second point may get called back before the weekend’s over.
A frustrated Adam Erne drilled Matt Irwin with a crosscheck in the period’s final three minutes to give Abbotsford a fifth power play opportunity.
The Canucks didn’t manage to get a shot on goal, but they also didn’t concede a shorthanded goal.
For the final minute of play, the Canucks dominated possession inside the offensive zone, a valiant comeback effort after spoiling their first lead generated by back-to-back power play goals.
Things got ugly in the third period when Drake Caggiula drilled Filip Johansson’s head into the endboards.
The ugly boarding penalty sent Abbotsford to a sixth power play, where the Canucks hammered Campbell with four shots and a half-dozen attempts.
Upon the resumption of 5-on-5 play, the Canucks struggled to get shots on Campbell from the dangerous areas, opting mostly for low-percentage shots from the perimeter. Over the final 20 minutes, the Canucks mustered just two shots from below the hash marks and only one shot below the hash marks between the circles.
Five minutes into the period, Marc Gatcomb took a hooking minor to give Bakersfield their fifth power play opportunity. The Canucks PK stood strong this time, allowing just a single shot from Xavier Bourgault in the final 10 seconds of the Condors’ man advantage.
It was all Bakersfield upon the resumption of play at 5-on-5, with the Condors outshooting Abbotsford 9-2 over the final 13 minutes. The only time that was not spent inside the Canucks zone came when the Condors flubbed their point shots or when missed shot attempts caromed out of the zone. The break in the action rarely came off the backs of the Canucks efforts. It appeared to be trickle-down PDO luck from the big club helping them out.
With Johansson already out of the game due to a head injury from Drake Caggiula, Jett Woo stepped up to defend Aatu Räty after the latter took a bump to the head from Adam Erne, well after having played the puck into the offensive zone.
Considering the lack of response after Caggiula’s check to the head on Johansson, it was nice seeing Abbotsford’s second-most experienced defenceman step up and attempt to curb the Condors’ runaway aggression.
The Canucks earned a seventh power play after the post-hit fracas but failed to generate any shots on net. Immediately after the power play ended, Jack Campbell collided with a forechecking Danila Klimovich after playing the puck behind his net, sending Bakersfield to their sixth power play.
With the game on the line, Colliton stuck with Wouters-Stevens and Bains-Räty as his rotating PK forward duos. Nielsen and Sasson took a spin in the final 20 seconds of the PK as the Condors reset from the d-zone, but the PK vets did most of the legwork late in the game.
Outside of two shots from in tight by Drake Caggiula, it was another clinical kill for Abbotsford.
The Canucks did well to regain a semblance of momentum following the late PK, but they’d blown a near-two-to-one shot advantage in the third period. They would press their luck in the overtime period, with Matt Irwin giving the Condors a seventh power play opportunity.
The interference call against Irwin was about as soft as they come. Seconds before Irwin tied up with a player behind the goal line, the Condors’ Matvei Petrov got his arms around Vasily Podkolzin at the Canucks’ blue line to disrupt his breakout attempt.
Just over a minute into the Condors’ 4-on-3, the Condors’ Seth Griffith worked the puck around the right circle, opening up enough space for a cross-ice pass to Raphael Lavoie for the one-timer under Silovs’ right elbow for the game-winner.
Bakersfield Goal 4-3 Condors: Raphael Lavoie from Seth Griffith and Lane Pederson
Bakersfield Condors defeat the Abbotsford Canucks 4-3 in overtime.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
It would be a stretch to say anyone had a performance worthy of the three stars. But these three players did the most to sway the game in Abbotsford’s favour toward earning a loser point.
Chase Wouters is probably the most deserving of a star tonight. Factoring all of the power play and PK time, Wouters must have eclipsed 23 minutes of ice time tonight, playing on both special teams and in not-insignificant minutes at 5-on-5 with Räty and Gatcomb.
Vasily Podkolzin earns the second star for another high volume of shots, a goal, and an assist while contributing big minutes on the power play and at 5-on-5. We are a bit concerned that he’s somehow losing out on PK reps over Tristen Nielsen. We have to wonder what these mid-season PK reps say about the call-up pecking order on the farm.
Arturs Silovs was under heavy duress during the third period and kept them alive long enough to secure a loser-point, but he also gave up three goals on 12 shots when they really needed a save. At points, he looked cool, calm, and collected; at others, he looked shaky, swimming in his crease. Again, not the most worthy performance deserving of a star, but he showed up big when it mattered, even if it probably shouldn’t have come to that point in the first place.
Next up on the Docket
The Canucks get a chance at redemption Saturday night when they take on the Condors once more.
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