There’s nothing worse than leading a hockey game by two goals (save perhaps trailing by seven, and even then, it’s a toss-up). As we know by now, opening up a two-goal lead is like reciting a passage from the Book of the Dead. It basically summons ill fortune. The Canucks have demonstrated this principle several times already this season, and they did so again on Monday night. The difference? This time, they were the team clawing their way back.
But there was another difference between this game and the two-goal collapses we’ve seen recently: this one ended in overtime, rather than the shootout. And speaking of things we’d never seen before, the game-winning goal was scored by none other than Chris Tanev, who will now haunt the Oilers like something out of Edgar Allan Poe. (Quoth the raven: Tanevermore.) I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 2 Oilers (OT)
Once in a great while, a man emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, to become a hero. Maybe he’s just in the right place at the right time. Maybe he was made for that time, and there’s simply nowhere else he could be. Maybe his greatness in that moment is written. We’ll never know. All we’ll know is that he was there, and his presence in that moment is something we will never forget. That happened tonight. I refer, of course, to horse-head man. He is the greatest of us.
But seriously, what a time for Chris Tanev to get his first NHL goal. You couldn’t have scripted a more satisfying finish than this. (Well, actually, that’s not true. In Inglourious Basterds, they killed Hitler. That was pretty satisfying. Still, this was excellent.) The goal was the result of the best Wizardous Sedinerie we’ve seen so far this year, with Daniel finding Henrik with a nifty little saucer pass in tight, then Henrik feeding the puck right back to Daniel on the backhand. From there, Daniel spotted Tanev streaking through the middle of the zone, and Tanev set to daggering the Oilers like Mr. Vegas.
Prior to the game-winning goal, the Sedins created some chances, but I didn’t really like their overall game Monday. They don’t look fully Sedin just yet. Granted, using their wizardry to orchestrate a massive goal for a defenceman that literally never scores is pretty Sedin. Just ask Lee Sweatt or Brad Lukowich.
Henrik Sedin almost scores his first of the season early in the game, but he was unable to get the puck up over the pad of Devan Dubnyk. He did manage to get on the scoresheet in the first, however: Henrik was called for boarding at 17:04 of the first period. Boarding! How is this act of malice possible? (Or was it an act of whimsy?) I fear that Henrik’s check on Duncan Keith last Friday awakened some darkness in him. Has he been the evil Sedin all this time? We’ll know if he trims his goatee down to a pencil moustache. Evil people always have pencil-thin moustaches.
He wasn’t named one of the three stars, but I thought Jannik Hansen was the best Canuck skater tonight. His effort level dwarfed everyone else’s like a lightning bolt in Mario Kart. His goal, a bank job that would have made Jason Statham proud, was all effort — with the exception of the part that was super lucky. You could tell Hansen knew it was a chintzy one when he chattered his teeth at the Canucks bench like a ventriloquist’s dummy.
The Canucks won 44 of 63 faceoffs in this contest, good for an absurd win rate of 70%. Henrik Sedin went 18-for-23. Manny Mahotra went 6-for-7. But the big winner was Alex Burrows, who went 7-for-7. How to explain this? Well, the Oilers have a lot of kids, and kids typically struggle in the faceoff circle, especially when you tell them the puck has cooties.
The only Canuck pivot to struggle in the faceoff circle: Jordan Schroeder, who went 3-for-9. I thought Schroeder had an up and down game. The good: he was working his tail off all night, and was rewarded for his hard work with an assist. He also posted 3 takeaways. On the flipside, he didn’t always make the best decisions. He threw the puck away a few times, he tried to force passes and shots through when there were better options, and he looked a little overeager and jittery on defence, most notably when he took a holding penalty trying to slow down Nail Yakupov in the third period. Still, he saw 18 minutes of icetime — 5 more than Zack Kassian — so Alain Vigneault must have liked what he was doing offensively.
Good luck getting upset about the Kassian/Schroeder icetime discrepancy. AV hates young players! … except for those that he doesn’t… or something….!
John Garrett claimed that Edmonton was starting to look like Puerto Vallerta in the summertime. John Shorthouse disagreed, because he isn’t completely insane.
Speaking of up and down games, Kevin Bieksa was all over the place this evening. Occasionally, he can be a bit nonchalant with the puck, and he was at times tonight. But he also had a team-high 5 shots on goal, a team-high 4 hits, 5 blocked shots, and he scored the all-important game-tying goal, so it’s hard to say he had a bad game. Like the Hansen goal, Bieksa’s was a bit chintzy, and also it involved Jannik Hansen. The Danish winger gained control of the puck in the Edmonton zone with his speed, then left it for Mason Raymond, who put the puck in front, only to have it drift to Bieksa. There was no nonchalance from Bieksa this time around. He was perfectly chalant, wiring the puck like it was Kanye West’s jaw.
While Devan Dubnyk was allowing two goals soft enough for the backsides of feral bears, Roberto Luongo continued to play the way that’s kept Cory Schneider on the bench for four straight. You could argue, I guess, that Luongo should have swatted away the puck on the Ales Hemsky goal, but that’s about the only criticism he deserved on the night. He was especially good in the third period and overtime, where Taylor Hall was awarded a penalty shot for a chance at the win. Fortunately, Luongo easily deflected the shot like it was a question about his future.
The Canucks really had the run of the play in this one, with 40 shots to the Oilers’ 25 and 73 attempted shots to the Oilers’ 48. But I felt like the Oilers had better quality chances. They weren’t in the offensive zone nearly as often, but they looked a little more dangerous when they were. Really, it’s a matter of quality vs. quantity, and since the game isn’t decided by judges, well, there you go. And besides, the Oilers’ chances weren’t that great. Not one was better than the Chance in “Homeward Bound”.
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