Tell me everyone, who had John Tortorella returning to Vancouver with the hottest team in the NHL ? Not to say he is not a good coach. He is. But I think there was a habit of thinking of him more by his past actions then by his job performance.
No matter. The Canucks need the two points, and while the media narrative was all about that, the Canucks would need all hands on deck to beat a team that has been playing very good hockey.
Of course, in Vancouver, the couch coaches in the media have been bitching about Willie for months. Botchford has accused him of wrecking players, Kuzma and McIntyre have had tons of passive aggressive "advice", and they were all pronouncing his demise here to varying degrees after the Hurricanes loss.
The first period in this one was testament to how it is players that matter, not coaches. There was no line matching to be had, really. It was like they were playing straight time, with only six whistles to the three minute mark in the period.
Henrik Sedin had a great chance early on the rush, but sent the pass from his brother through the crease instead of into the empty net, and Miller robbed Karlsson in close. A Sedlak tip was another tough save for Miller, and the Sedins created a couple more chances, but basically, the first was indicative of the the entire game, with shots hard to come by, and a lot of back and forth.
Numbers after One
The shots were pretty sparse, with only 6 for the visitors, and 3 for the home team. Thehits were 9-6 for the Jackets, and they won 6 of 9 faceoffs as well. The blocks were a narrative for the game guys, and Tort’s team does block a lot of them. It was Tort’s last team that had the lead on that stat after one over his current team, 4 to 3.
The Blue Jackets currently have the best power play in the NHL, with an eye popping 25.9% success rate. They were given a chance to use that weapon just 00:35 in, as Luca Sbisa was guilty of a pretty chintzy interference call. It may have been, or maybe not, but that is a play that happened all game, in a lot of games. Columbus did it all day in this game, as did the Canucks.
Nonetheless, the Jackets made short work of it, as a Werenski point shot got through, and was stopped. Cam Atkinson was right at the side of the net, and made no mistake on the rebound, to make it 1-0 early in the middle stanza.
The Canucks pushed right back, and some good work from Burrows led to some pressure by the home team, with a great chance from Sutter blocked by Hartnell. A Hornet chance in the slot was also tipped out by Weinberg, and then Troy Stecher was hit at the line as the puck was cleared, and took a puck to the forehead, getting eight stitches and missing a few shifts. Werenski then took the same penalty as Sbisa did ( although his was more obvious ), but the Canuck power play is not as deadly as CBJ’s, and were not able to make them pay.
Soon after, a chance in close was defended well by Sbisa and his partner, but then Luca took a stupid slash ( after the puck was defended and getting out ) on Karlsson, and the #1 PP was out for another chance.
This one was defended better, but a pretty Hartnell pass from the crease ( instead of jamming the puck on Miller ) to Saad gave the former Hawk an easy shot into the empty net for the 2-0 score.
Stecher returned around this time, but the problem with getting shots for the home team was highlighted by the fact Bo Horvat was credited with their SIXTH with 5:20 left in the second period. #Yeesh.
The Canucks got back to back power plays at this point, and they were getting pressure and shots a bit better, but the Jackets defended well. They would start the third on the power play as a result however.
Digits after Forty
The shots ? 14-9 for the visitors. The hits were 16-7 for them as well, and they won 19 face-offs to 12 for the home team. The blocks, the most Tortsiest of all the stats ? The Jackets powered ahead in the second, with an 11-7 edge in what Mr Point Roberts likes to call "effort stats".
The power play was getting better zone time, but the Jackets were collapsing well. Nonetheless, when you keep giving a team shots at it, they will break through, and the Canucks got another one from Murray, as he cross checked Megna in front. This time, the first unit looked good, and after a shot was saved off Sven Baertschi, Brandon Sutter was right there in the slot to bang home the rebound to make it 2-1.
That goal energized the team, and while it was back and forth, they finally got some luck a bit later, as a Daniel Sedin shot ( pass ? ) with Hansen breaking to the net went off of Jack Johnson going with him and past Bobrovsky for the tying goal. Murray had a chance right after that, with all day to decide, but missed short side on a patient Miller, while Chaput hit Jones in the slot on a great chance off of a strong Skille rush.
The Twins line was pushing hard, ( they had a great game zone wise, and spent way more time in the offensive end than their own this game ) but it was the Jackets that looked to be getting the most cruelest of breaks. To be fair, it was more hard work by Foligno than anything, but after tanner lost his stick, Hutton lost Saad ( while taking a peak for the puck ) for just a second, but it was the second when Foligno made the pass, and Saad banged it home for the 3-2 lead with just 4:39 remaining.
Once again, credit a bit of luck, and some hard work for ensuring the game reached extra time. Jannik Hansen has great wheels, and he took it end to end as the home team pulled the goalie. His shot may have went off of Murray as well, but the shot went post and in, beating Goalie Bob high glove for the tying goal, and ensuring the teams got to three on three, giving the home team a hard earned point against the hottest team in the league.
Three on Three Time
Overtime can be exciting, but it is damn cruel too. The Canucks had a couple great chances, as Daniel Sedin was denied by the blocker, and then Ben Hutton was robbed by the post on the short side.
Of course, his shot went around to Atkinson, and of course, that led to a two on one the other way. Henrik Sedin was the man back, and cheated to the passer, but could not deny it, as Seth Jones put it home past a sprawling Miller to ensure the hottest team in the NHL ( 9-0-1 in their last ten ) continued to remain hot, giving them the win.
The shots ended up 25 -17, the hits were 21-10 for Tort’s Boys, and the Canucks roared back in the third and O/T in the circle, going an astonishing 19-2 in the third and O/T to win that stat 31-21.
Of course, the only stat that mattered to Torts ( his 500th win came today ) was a wipeout for his team, as they ended up 16-8 on the block clock. I am sure he is smiling as he goes by the training room and sees all the ice bags getting prepped.
Give both teams credit. The Canucks got a point they earned, not another they lost, and the Jackets are for real. They work hard up and down the lineup, and are a tough team to play against. The Canucks should take solace from their effort in this one, as they played hard most of this one.