The storyline of Tuesday's matchup between the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils was the return of Corey Schneider, who would have to face the player he was essentially traded for, Bo Horvat.
Earlier that morning, Horvat had a special moment when Willie Desjardins broke the news to the 19-year old winger that he'd be sticking around in the NHL.
Before the game, we were treated to a touching pregame ceremony honoring Pat Quinn. The ceremony included a beautiful rendition of "Danny Boy" by Mark Donnelly, sending goosebumps through those in attendance and those watching from home, I'm sure.
Can't speak for crowd in Rogers Arena, but there were no dry eyes in my living room when Mark Donnelly sang O Danny Boy for The Big Irishman— Cam Cole (@rcamcole) November 26, 2014
Ryan Miller delivered a solid performance, earning his second shutout of the year with 20 saves on the night. The Devils struggled to get shots on net all night, never registering more than eight in any period. Meanwhile, the Canucks tested Cory Schneider all night with 36 shots on goal.
Alex Burrows opened the scoring early in the 2nd period while Shawn Mathias iced the game late in the 3rd as the Canucks improved to 15-6-1 on the year.
The Canucks got off to a good start, controlling the puck and outshooting the Devils 10-0 to begin the game. New Jersey wouldn't register their first shot until over eight minutes into the first period as Cory Schneider was put to the test against his former team.
Vancouver's best chance came midway through the first period when Jannik Hansen delivered a centering pass to Henrik Sedin after Hansen had broken into the offensive zone with a clean look on net. The pass gave Henrik a wide open net, but he wasn't able to get a clean handle on the puck as he was slashed by Seth Helgeson, sending the Canucks to the power play.
Vancouver was able to muster a couple shots, but not much more. Coming into tonight, the Canucks had converted on just three of their past 21 power plays. One of the better scoring opportunities of the power play actually came from the Devils as Stephen Gionta and Dainius Zubrus broke out on a 2-on-1. Despite not facing many shots in the period, Miller remained sharp enough to make the stop.
Plenty of shots in the opening period, a few good looks, but no goals for either side.
#Canucks outshooting the Devils 900-4, or at least it feels that way. Actual shots are 17-4 for Vancouver, but still a 0-0 game.— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) November 26, 2014
While they had no trouble getting shots on net, the Canucks also had a successful first period in the face-off circle, winning 78 percent of the draws during the opening period.
Just over a minute into the 2nd period, the Canucks finally beat Cory Schneider to get on the board. Kevin Bieksa delivered a perfectly placed slap pass to Alex Burrows, who tipped it past Schneider to give the Canucks the 1-0 lead.
The goal was Burrows' fifth of the season and his third in the past five games, already matching his total from all of last season. So, we can all agree to just blame that one on Torts, yeah? Good, I'm glad we're all in agreement here.
Soon after, Derek Dorsett would drop the gloves with Seth Helgeson. While the fight was over nearly as quickly as it had started, the highlight of the fight was when this fan in the second row thought the popcorn he acquired during the intermission would be better off all over the front row. Like seriously, that was a perfectly good bucket of popcorn, and now you've just got the people around you who think you're a jerk.
The Canucks would go back to the power play as Jacob Josefson was sent off for a face-off violation, the first time I've personally seen a penalty like that. The Canucks had several great looks on net during the advantage, drawing cheers from the crowd as Vancouver continued to put pressure on their former teammate.
The faceoff violation penalty is the sexiest of the penalties.— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) November 26, 2014
Late in the period, Alex Burrows had a great chance at his second goal of the night, but tried to set up Chris Higgins instead as the score would remain 1-0 heading into the final intermission. Took a page right out of Henrik's playbook.
Well, at least no one can accuse Alex Burrows of being selfish.— Cam Tucker (@CamTucker_Metro) November 26, 2014
Midway through the period, Alex Burrows almost added to Vancouver's lead. As the Canucks broke out on a 2-on-1, Burrows had Schneider beat with a wrist shot, but it went wide and rang off the post
Moments later, Jannik Hansen had another great scoring chance, but his shot flew over the net. Hansen has been one of the hottest scorers in the league as of late with five goals in his last three games, including his first career hat trick back on Sunday against the Blackhawks.
The Devils had a great scoring chance of their own when Steve Bernier positioned himself perfectly in the slot to deliver a shot on net, but took too long as Ryan Miller had time to shift over and stop the shot with his left pad. The Devils weren't getting many shots on net, but when they did, they sure made them difficult. The save would go on to be one of the game's defining moments.
Miller's save on Bernier may be the difference in a 1 goal game. Then again, that was a classic Steve Bernier knuckle flutter shot. #Canucks— Grady S (@GradySas) November 26, 2014
All of a sudden, this game's intensity had reached playoff levels. It's as if every player shotgunned two Red Bulls at the same time before going out
With just over 5 minutes left in the game, Shawn Mathias broke free after a turnover forced by a poke check from Ryan Stanton, and would beat Cory Schneider with a goal off his own rebound. At least we have someone who can score on the breakaway!
What's more amazing than Jannik Hansen scoring on a breakaway? Shawn Matthias scoring on a breakaway. So we win that trade too, right?— BILL BRASKY (@KentGBasky) November 26, 2014
The goal would be all Ryan Miller would need to finish out the shutout, the second of the year and the 31st of his career.
Now, the Canucks hit the road for a seven-game road trip over the span of 14 days. The brutal stretch begins on Friday in Columbus. Vancouver will also make stops in Detroit, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal before returning home on December 13 to take on the Rangers. This road trip will be a crucial point in the season. Vancouver hasn't had to travel for an extended period of time yet this year (their longest road trip of the season has been four games), so it'll be interesting to see how they handle it.