IWTG: Josh Leivo's shootout winner completes Canucks comeback over Blues

Canucks 4 - 3 Blues (SO)

Pass it to Bulis

The Canucks couldn’t win four games in a row to save their lives last season.

Fortunately, they were never put in that situation.

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At no point did a supervillain challenge the Canucks to win four-straight games or their lives would be forfeit. An alien race did not threaten to blow up the earth unless the Canucks won four consecutive games. Last season was not a dystopian future where the Canucks were thrown into a only-one-can-survive scenario, where the first team to four consecutive wins could leave the arena and win their city a year’s worth of drinking water, while every other team was gruesomely killed.

If they were put into that situation this season, however, the Canucks would have survived. Just six games into the 2019-20 season and the Canucks already have their first four-game win streak.

Sure, two of those wins came by the skin of their teeth in the shootout, but that’s why teeth have skin.

What’s that? Teeth don’t have skin? Maybe your teeth don’t, you weirdo. I guess you won’t be escaping from many perilous situations by a narrow margin in your life. Your loss.

You know whose loss it wasn’t? The Canucks', when I watched this game.

  • Thatcher Demko made his second start of the season and looked shakier than a Jenga tower made of Jello at times, with worse rebound control than Brook Lopez. At the same time, he made 34 saves on 37 shots, then stopped all six shooters he faced in the shootout. It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but the puck mostly stayed out of the net, which is what counts.
  • Demko made like Tyler Myers was a bank and bailed him out midway through the first period. Myers gave the puck away twice in one sequence, and Robby Fabbri got a scoring chance all alone in front of the net, but Demko made a strong push across and didn’t allow a rebound. It was one of his best saves of the night.
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  • It wasn’t a great night for the defence pairing of Myers and Alex Edler, who have been solid so far this season. They struggled in their matchup role against the Blues’ top line of Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko, getting pretty badly outshot, and they each shared blame in the Blues’ opening goal: Myers lost a puck battle to Tyler Bozak, who shot the puck off the post, and Edler completely lost sight of Fabbri in front, who put back the rebound.
  • Jake Virtanen had the Canucks’ most disappointing chance of the first period. He made a great move at the blue line to burn past Carl Gunnarsson, giving him a great opportunity to drop his shoulder and drive to the net like the power forward so many people wish he was. Instead, he weakly flipped the puck on goal, just hoping to catch Jordan Binnington off guard. What he needs is earbuds with an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator screaming “GET TO THE NET!!!” every time he enters the offensive zone.
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  • Micheal Ferland got to the net. The newest Canuck was initially robbed by Binnington, but Virtanen won a battle along the boards to get the puck back to the point to Edler, whose point shot was tipped on net by Brandon Sutter. Like the time 15 cardiologists were heading to a convention when a woman had a heart attack onboard their plane, Ferland was in the right place at the right time, and tied the game 1-1.
  • Sutter had two assists on the play: the primary assist for the tip and an uncredited assist for blatantly hooking Vince Dunn to free up the puck in the first place. The hook went uncalled even though Sutter practically ripped Dunn’s gloves off his hands. Usually to get a hook that big and over-the-top, you have to get Pharrell to guest on your track.
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  • The Blues answered back in short order, scoring two goals in the next one-and-a-half minutes after Ferland’s goal. Both came off the rush, as the Canucks had trouble containing the Blues in transition. Pietrangelo blasted a slap shot past Demko after Ivan Barbashev cheekily let a pass go through his legs to the big defenceman. Then Demko juggled a rebound and Vladimir Tarasenko jumped all over it to make it 3-1 for the Blues.
  • That was part of a bad few shifts for Tyler Motte. Tarasenko was his man on the 3-1 goal, but Motte let him get right to the net unimpeded. A few minutes later, on the penalty kill, Motte took a holding penalty to give the Blues a two-man advantage. That sequence of events might get a lesser player benched by their coach, but not Motte. Of course, it helps that he assisted on a goal as soon as he got out of the penalty box.
  • After the Canucks’ killed off the two-man advantage, Myers tipped away a pass and Motte broke out on an odd-man rush with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller. Improbably, Motte decided the best course of action was to shoot. Even more improbably, he was right. Motte ripped the puck off the post and, while the Blues defenders focused on Pettersson, the puck came out to Miller in the slot and, like Bob Ross, he made no mistake.
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  • The Canucks’ power play was awful in this game, completely unable to connect on any passing plays into dangerous areas on the ice. On their first three power plays, they didn’t manage a single shot on goal. It seemed like even the referees felt sorry for them, as they gifted the Canucks a two-minute 5-on-3 in the third period, with Blues’ coach Craig Berube getting a bench minor for complaining too vociferously about a penalty call.
  • Berube seemed to think that Tyler Myers pushed Rob Thomas into Demko for goaltender interference and, well, he was pretty much right. I guess Myers just wanted to push him around.
  • The Canucks still only got one shot on goal in the entire two-minute 5-on-3, which featured some frustrating choices. Josh Leivo is inexplicably still part of their 5-on-3 power play unit, as is Edler instead of Quinn Hughes. While they look to create better chances, their 5-on-3 scheme mostly just leads to Edler and Brock Boeser changing places at the point, with one of them eventually taking a long shot through traffic. It makes about as much sense as the plot of Suicide Squad.
  • Despite the frustrations, the two-man advantage was a turning point. At the end of the power play, the Canucks finally created a chance down low and, in the ensuing chaos, Pettersson got the puck all alone and deked around Binnington. Colton Parayko managed to keep the puck out of the net with a heroic effort, but Bo Horvat was there to clean up the rebound and shovel the puck in a moment after the penalty expired.
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  • That goal got the game to overtime, which solved nothing. Quinn Hughes had the Canucks’ best chance, catching David Perron off-guard by skating in slowly while the Canucks were changing, then suddenly bursting by him to drive to the net like Arnold Schwarzenegger had yelled at him to do so. Unfortunately, he couldn’t beat Binnington.
  • That was true for the Canucks’ first five shooters in the shootout too. Boeser, Pettersson, Pearson, Miller, and Edler were all stymied by Binnington, though for Pettersson it was more the choppy ice, as the puck rolled off his stick as he deked to the backhand. It started to look like Binnington was unbeatable, until Josh Leivo went full Bobby Orr, just like we all expected.
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  • Leivo’s leg kick was reminiscent of Ryan Kesler, but his finish while soaring through the air was all Orr, which seems appropriate for a game-winning goal against the Blues.

 


 

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