Here’s what some idiot had to say about this game when he was previewing it in last Wednesday’s Vancouver Sun: ”If you skip just one game this year, I’d make it this one. Teams tend to be at their absolute worst right after they return from lengthy road trips, and with the Canucks facing the high-flying, Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals, this is probably your most likely candidate for an embarrassing, early-season blowout.”
Well then. That is most definitely not what happened in this one. Instead, we got a dominant performance from the Canucks and one of the most entertaining games of the year. I sincerely hope you didn’t listen to this idiot, and what an idiot he is. Does he even watch the games? The answer is yes, because that idiot was me a week ago, and boy did I feel like an idiot when I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 2 Capitals
- The Canucks developed a nasty habit during their road trip of surrendering a goal on the first shot of the game. Tonight, they nearly did it again, but in a sort of wacky way. Just moments into the game, only four seconds after Washington’s first shot on goal, Alex Ovechkin stepped around Alex Edler and was taken down. The officials awarded him a penalty shot. Since penalty shots don’t actually count towards shots on goal, had Ovechkin scored, the Canucks would have surrendered a goal in the liminal space between their first shot and their second. Thankfully, Roberto Luongo made the save, preventing a dangerous time paradox. After he did it, he wisely dug into his pocket and fished out the photo of him, Leo and Fabio standing in front of that well, just to make sure they all still existed.
- Daniel suggested just this morning that Zack “Degrassi” Kassian was due for some puck luck, and wouldn’t you know it, the big guy opened the scoring in this one. (Kassian, not Daniel.) It was a bit of a nothing play at first, with Kassian and Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins breaking out 2-on-2 and playing hot potato with the puck under pressure, but when Higgins poked it ahead of the Capitals’ defence and Nate Schmidt tried to kick it when he should have turned, Kassian blew by him, scooped up the puck, then beat Michael Neuvirth with a laser like Neuvirth had played rock, paper or scissors.
- Asked about Kassian’s play after the game, John Tortorella said, “Good at times, crappy at times.” When the media reiterated that they were asking about Kassian, not popular AMC program The Walking Dead, Tortorella said, “Oh. Well, same answer.”
- Also good at times: Darren Archibald, who Tortorella really liked. “I want him to take someone’s job,” he said. “There’s really something there.” Might we suggest Tom Sestito? Because Tom Sestito has been trying to give his job away for a month now. If you go to his house on Halloween, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll put it in your pillowcase.
- Sestito had his usual forgettable game tonight, although it was a little less forgettable than it normally is because he made it onto the scoresheet. Not the good part. The part that lists the Canucks on the ice for goals against. Sestito makes an appearance there on two (otherwise known as all) Washington goals, which is about the sort of thing that happens when injuries force him onto your third line. He was directly at fault on the first goal. He had a chance to get the puck out, and instead, he gave it to Washington like Sarah Palin.
- The Canucks really took this game over in the second period, outshooting the Capitals 16-3. But they couldn’t get the go-ahead goal, and a minute and a half into the third, Mikhail Grabovski made them pay. But rather than deflate the Canucks, it had the same effect that a Vincent Price rap interlude has on the dead: it only served to bring them to life.
- Ryan Kesler tied the game up 59 seconds later, after a Ryan Stanton shot handcuffed Neuvirth. The Caps’ goalie knocked it down in front of him, but it came to Daniel Sedin, who brilliantly kicked the puck over to Kesler. Kesler stepped into the puck like it was actually a puck-shaped house. Heck, he didn’t just step into it — he went into the puck’s kitchen and fixed himself a snack.
- Anyone else catch Brad Richardson blowing the zone on a penalty-kill when he thought Mike Santorelli — who continues to be amazing — was going to clear the puck? No way you do that unless you’ve been instructed to, unless you’re looking to get benched. The Canucks’ penalty-kill under Tortorella has a really aggressive counter-attack. He’s got his guys trying to score any chance they get.
- This game had a little bit of everything — even slapstick. Midway through the first period, Kevin Bieksa broke Steven Olesky’s skate blade with a shot, and Olesky had to stumble and wobble off the ice on one skate. He looked like me on two skates. What a dope.
- The game also had controversy. On a second-period penalty, Karl Alzner lost a glove, and while he was clearing it out from the front of the net, he took the opportunity to shoot it at Daniel Sedin. According to section 53.6 of the NHL rulebook, that’s a penalty shot, and it’s actually pretty flipping astounding that the official standing five feet away didn’t seem to know. I theorize that he was actually just a fan that dressed up as an NHL official for Halloween, then went in the wrong door. “What are you doing in here?” someone said, and before he could answer, they said, “You’re supposed to be on the ice! The game’s about to start!”
- We might be more upset about that blown call, however, if the Canucks hadn’t won the game thanks to some of the most Wizardous Sedinery imaginable. Not satisfied with the subtle kick to Kesler for the game-tying goal, or perhaps fearing people wouldn’t notice it and appreciate them enough, the Sedins combined for a shift and resulting goal that was pure, unmitigated wonder. It was like a tour of the Wonka factory, except without all the kids getting murdered.
- Listen to Shorty’s fond chuckle when Henrik looks off the open shooting lane to make that weird little toe-drag handoff pass to Daniel (which is super cool, by the way). That’s homerism at his finest, but it’s tough to blame a man for knowing and loving what the Sedins do when you watch it every night.
- Finally, while we didn’t see Alex Ovechkin’s amazing goal-scoring ability in this game, he did give us a demonstration of his incredible floating ability. He’s like an elf in the snow! On the Sedin goal, he drifts into the zone late, then does nothing but yield space. He’s the reason Hamhuis is so open for the pass from behind the goal. He’s the reason Henrik has so much time and space. And he’s the reason Daniel has that massive lane to skate down before he blasts home the winner. Alex Ovechkin creates highlight-reel offence, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s not always his.
, I Watched This Game