After a shaky start that didn’t see the Vancouver Canucks register a shot on goal until well over halfway through the first period, the home team battled back to play a very convincing latter two periods. And while the performance did net the Canucks a point, Vancouver deserved better in another game without Elias Pettersson.
It was a rare one these days in which the better goaltender was at the other end, but Darcy Kuemper and the Coyotes (with a little help from the referees) were able to squeak out a win on what was dubbed Star Wars Night at Rogers Arena.
Please, please don’t make us count the actual stars on the ice. Fine, we’ll do it. Brock Boeser, yeah. Bo Horvat, for sure, even though he doesn’t get the recognition. And maybe Oliver Ekman-Larsson. (At least he is on his team, where he’s an All Star Game attendee every year because the ‘Yotes have no one else.)
Here’s what else we saw in a 4-3 Arizona overtime win.
Three that impressed
1. Nikolay Goldobin
Coach Travis Green inexplicably refused to put Goldobin on the ice in overtime, but he was right around the puck on just about every scoring chance the Canucks had. Though he wasn’t actually able to convert any of them, one has to follow the process to get the results. Goldy was a bright spot in an otherwise muddled game.
2. Sven Baertschi
Yeah, two goals will get you on this list. Baertschi was another standout for the Canucks, not only because of his show-stopping first goal.
He was around the puck most of the night, feeding Goldobin on the powerplay and generally being both a sharp shooter and a smart playmaker.
3. Conor Garland
We had barely heard of Garland tonight (those in deep fantasy hockey pools, take notice), but the fifth-rounder from the 2015 draft is apparently on something of a streak. He had seven points in his first 15 NHL games since roasting the AHL at the beginning of the year, and looked the part of a hungry rookie tonight.
He was too much for the Canucks’ defencemen on more than one occasion and was routinely bringing the puck into the Vancouver zone with speed. He also added to his point total with a tap-in after a special move from Alex Galchenyuk.
Three that didn’t
1. Erik Gudbranson and Ben Hutton
“We’ll see where we go from there as far as the pairings go,” said Green about the pairing of Hutton and Gudbranson, who played most of the game together and apart from some nice offensive plays by Hutton, were mostly victimized.
Gudbranson particularly was not good. The Garland goal may have been lucky, but he was turned in his own zone a few times and coughed the puck. There were a couple decent passes as well, but on the whole Guddy hasn’t been great lately, and Green has clearly taken notice. It’ll be interesting to see if his role is changed or reduced at all when the Canucks take the ice on Sunday against Florida.
2. The fourth line
Jay Beagle, Tyler Motte and Loui Eriksson were seemingly hemmed in their own zone most of the game. Motte had some decent chances during brief stints with other lines, and Eriksson was fine on the PK. But mostly it was tough to watch the trio, even in their limited ice time.
3. The refs
Sorry, the Coyotes second goal was kicked in. Ekman-Larsson’s play on Goldobin at the beginning of the sequence was fine, but if that’s not a kicking motion, what the hell is?
- With the result, the Coyotes are now four points back on the Canucks with three games in hand. It says a lot about the Pacific Division that those stats are in any way relevant to the playoff race, but here we are. Both wildcard spots in the Western Conference are very much up for grabs as it stands, and while the best case for the Canucks still probably lies in getting a good draft pick, the Aquilinis are definitely after that playoff revenue.
- Adam Gaudette sure looked relieved to score. It couldn’t have come at a better time for the rookie, who was returning to the lineup after a three-game stint in Utica.
- That being said, he wasn’t great on the Coyotes’ third goal, as his inability to get the puck out led to the Garland tally.
- And that may have been a major reason that Gaudette, who otherwise was effective, didn’t see the ice in overtime. Markus Granlund did, and he was…not inspiring. He made a couple defensive plays in this game that were key, but he seemed somewhat clueless in the offensive zone and was taken advantage of at 3-on-3.
- Chris Tanev made a couple nice plays (after coughing up the puck on the Coyotes’ first goal), but Alex Edler was easily the team’s best defenceman. Were potential trade partners watching? Doubtful, given it was a late game featuring the Coyotes and Canucks. We can maybe forgive our Eastern friends on this one.
- “We probably should have won the game…I thought the goal was kicked in.” – Travis Green
- “He wasn't great 5-on-5, but was pretty good on the powerplay.” - Green on Goldobin
- “We’re chasing some teams—this is one of them, so to get the extra point was huge.” – Darcy Kuemper
- “I just tried to build off what I did in Utica the past few games and translate that momentum to here.” - Adam Gaudette