There were a few times throughout the game when one would be forgiven for assuming the Colorado Avalanche would find their way to a victory.
It didn’t happen, and while the Canucks had a few heroes tonight, none shone brighter than Elias Pettersson.
With the Canucks down 6-5 after a Nathan Mackinnon powerplay goal with just over 1:30 left in the game, all hope appeared to be lost.
The obituaries were being written and the the consensus was that Vancouver could take solace in a hard fought game against a talented squad.
Then, as has happened so many times already in this young season, Elias Pettersson came through.
An improbable goal by the young Swede sent things to overtime, where Pettersson got the secondary assist on Derrick Pouliot’s first goal of the year.
This was a game in which Erik Gudbranson and Ben Hutton played top minutes against probably the best line in the entire NHL. A game in which Bi Horvat played over 25 minutes, mostly against the same trio. A game in which West Vancouver native Alexander Kerfoot scored a goal of the year candidate in front of his friends and family. A game in which Francesco Aquilini promised he’d live tweet (which, to nobody’s surprise ended in yet another call for ride-hailing apps to be allowed in the city). And a game in which Loui Eriksson scored (yes, seriously). Oh, and it was also Diwali night, which the Cancuks did a great job in recognizing with a performance from Bhangra singer Jazzy B and many Hindu and Sikh personalities showcased on the big screen.
But still, it was dominated by the play of Elias Pettersson, who, with two goals and three assists on the night (including two absolute beauties on Brock Boeser goals), seems like an absolute lock to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. The season isn’t even a month old.
Here’s what else we saw in the Canucks 7-6 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche.
Three that impressed
1. Elias Pettersson
Yeah, sorry, he’s pretty much a permanent fixture in this space.
2. Alexander Kerfoot
The kid had a huge game in front of his hometown crowd and his family will be talking about his goal for a long, long time.
3. Bo Horvat
If the Canucks can ever get enough talented wingers for both Horvat and Pettersson to play with, it might be enough to declare the rebuild over. Horvat’s just getting better and better, and his effort tonight against some of the best players in the NHL was commendable. Yes, he got pegged with a minus-1 rating but he also registered over 25 minutes in ice time and two points. It was a captain type game from the centre.
Three that didn’t
1. Jacob Markstrom
The Canucks goaltender battled, but there are likely a few in the six he allowed that he’d love to have back. Markstrom is likely the team’s only choice until Anders Nilsson heals up, so he still has time to win back Travis Green’s confidence in him, which seems to have ebbed and flowed a bit early on.
2. Michael Del Zotto and Alex Biega
The Canucks third pairing just looked outclassed almost the entire time they were out there. With minus-2 ratings for each and way lower ice time than any of the team’s other defenders, it was a tough night.
3. Matt Calvert
A crosscheck on Brock Boeser wasn’t necessarily out of the ordinary for the NHL, but it was from behind, should have been a penalty and will likely be remembered by the Canucks. Boeser was OK, but laboured on the bench for awhile and was clearly stung.
- Antoine Roussel looked hungry tonight, hitting everything that moved and almost dropping the gloves with the large Nikita Zadorov after the Avalanche defender knocked down Adam Gaudette. Roussel didn’t play a ton of minutes but he did have an assist and showed some real life.
- Speaking of Gaudette, he registered the second-lowest ice time among Canucks (only more than Brendan Gaunce), but he had his moments, playing well both with and away from the puck.
- It was a tough one for Gudbranson and Hutton but they emerged from the game victorious and for two players that have no business playing the entire night against the Avs’ top line, that’s good enough.
- Hutton in particular showed some real battle, tangling up with Mikko Rantanen and refusing to back down.
- Even with another two assists tonight, Nikolay Goldobin seemed to lose his coach’s confidence, as Travis Green shortened the bench near the end of the game, splitting up his top line and giving Jake Virtanen and Horvat chances with Pettersson and Boeser.
Quotable - Pettersson edition
- “What a night…That was a fun game to coach.” – Travis Green
- “I don’t know what word to use.” – Green again, trying to describe Pettersson’s performance thus far.
- “He was good. Dangerous, speedy, quick release. Thought he had a really good night.” - Colorado coach Jared Bednar on Pettersson
- “He’s a mini Pavel Datsyuk, he’s fun to watch.” – Boeser on Pettersson
- “A lot of fun.” – Pettersson, when asked how much fun he’s having right now