The Vancouver Canucks hit the ice in Minnesota Wednesday night hoping to accomplish three things: win their third game in a row for the first time in 2014, prevent the Wild from sweeping the season series for the first time ever and, in so doing, upgrade their scant playoff hopes from “LMAO never gonna happen” to “LOL doubt it”.
These are depressing goals. Fortunately, this game was far from depressing, as the Canucks accomplished all of their goals, and even scored five in the process, the first time they’ve tallied five regulation goals since they beat Boston in mid-December. Like that game, the catalyst for the scoring outburst was David Booth, who appears as at home versus the Wild as he does in it. Like Booth perched in a bush, quietly loading his crossbow for the kill, I watched this game.
Canucks 5 -2 Wild
- Several times this year, we’ve seen the Canucks blow a glorious scoring opportunity, only to watch the opposition take the puck the other way and score. This game’s first goal saw that scenario play out in reverse, with Eddie Lack stoning Matt Moulson to keep the Wild off the board just moments before David Booth put the Canucks on it. It was a great play by Booth, who poked the puck past Marco Scandella at the defensive blue line, skated onto it, then put a shot through the legs of Jonathan Blum and past Darcy Kuemper. With the goal, Scandella was a sad fella, Blum was glum, and Darcy wasn’t a happy Kuemper. (I’ll just be over here, awaiting my comedy award.)
- Speaking of happy campers, this is the second time this season Booth has scored in back-to-back games, and it seems worth noting that both times, the second goal came against the Wild. It probably shouldn’t be all that surprising that a team named after the wilderness invigorates Booth, but I’ll admit to being somewhat shocked when Booth decided to take Nino Neiderreiter’s head as a trophy.
- Neiderreiter actually almost took a head of his own in this game, getting his shoulder up high on Alex Burrows, who was forced to leave yet another game, this time for the quiet room. Neiderreiter got a two minute minor for the hit, and may face supplemental discipline, but fortunately for him, and Vancouver, Burrows returned to the game.
- If you’re still not convinced that this Canuck season is cursed (and if the Burrows headshot didn’t put you over the top), consider the Wild’s first goal, scored after the puck took a funny bounce off a stanchion, leaving Kevin Bieksa out of position and Charlie Coyle wide open for a shot. That’s right — the stanchion turned on Kevin Bieksa. That’s like when Mantecore attacked Siegfried and Roy.
- The Canucks would get the goal back in the second, thanks once again to David Booth, who had it going on like the Backstreet Boys in this game. Again, it was reminiscent of recent Canuck woes, but in reverse, as the Wild failed to convert on a power play, then made an error than ended up in their net four seconds after the Canucks were back at even-strength. This time it was Jared Spurgeon playing the victim, as he fanned on a pass, serving the puck up for Booth, who snapped a shot like it was a bra strap and he was a thirteen-year old boy.
- All the Canucks were thinking about in the final minute of the second was holding onto their one-goal lead. But Zack Kassian doesn’t think like anyone else, which is why he decided to double it. After a won draw by Brad Richardson, Kassian easily outmuscled Charlie Coyle to seize control of the puck, then swivelled and fired a shot past Kuemper to make it 3-1. You’ve gotta feel for Coyle there. He tried, but let’s be honest: that’s not a battle Coyle’s going to win. Here’s a photo of him standing next to Kassian.
- Kassian had another strong game, registering a team-high four shots in the win. He looks to have figured a few things out. Like, in his play. Not his face. Zack Kassian’s face does not feature the look of a guy who’s figured a few things out. It’s more the look of the horror movie gas station attendant who warns the kids not to go up to the abandoned cabin, and helps set the mood of the film with his frightening visage.
- I quite enjoyed John Garrett’s story about how he wanted to go to Blue Man Group tonight but he couldn’t because they’re in Vancouver and, y’know, he isn’t. “Thanks, tips,” snarked John Shorthouse. I agree, it was a weak story. A better ending: “I’m afraid I just blue myself.“
- The Canucks poured it on in the third period, like the third period was a bowl of soft-serve ice cream and the Canucks were a fudgy drizzle. They made it 4-1 after Daniel Sedin snapped his 23-game goalless drought, tipping a Dan Hamhuis point shot past the newly-installed Ilya Bryzgalov. You could tell it had been a while since Daniel celebrated a goal, because he didn’t seem to know what to do anymore. He raised one arm, then he was like, oh right, normally you raise two, and then he sort of forgot them up there, as though he didn’t know how long to hold the pose before bringing them back down. For future reference, Daniel, it’s two mississippis and down.
- Finally, Ryan Kesler got in on the action, putting this one well out of reach by cleaning up the garbage on a scoring play that couldn’t have been more messy. I should note right here that while I understand “more messy” is a bit of clunky phrasing, that’s by design. Here at PITB, we do not use the comparative form of “messy” for what I hope are obvious reasons.
- Eddie Lack has another strong game, stopping all but two shots as the Wild outshot the Canucks 31 to 19. It should be noted that, this victory aside, the Canucks’ winning streak will never get to 12 if they continue to register two shots to their opponent’s three. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, fellas, why you babysitting only two or three shots?
- But the best save came not from Lack, but from Alex Edler, who’s had a rough season, but got a nice, redemptive moment in this one, preventing a sure goal by batting a rolling puck off the goal line after it trickled through Lack’s five-hole. It was a very important bat. Not since the one that flew past a grieving Bruce Wayne’s window has there been a bat of such importance.