In their first game of 2017, the Vancouver Canucks were looking to increase their win streak to 4 games tonight against the visiting Colorado Avalanche. This would be their first four consecutive victories since the beginning of the season (remember that!?).
This new year also brought a new(ish) face with Anton Rodin playing the second game of his NHL career. Rodin is replacing Alexandre Burrows while he misses time due to a scratched eye.
Calvin Pickard got the start tonight and has been manning the pipes while Semyon Varlamov is injured. So far, the promotion hasn’t been kind to Pickard as he’s allowed 16 goals in the last 3 games.
While he was looking to right his ways in Vancouver, the home team had other plans.
While both teams had their opportunities to begin the game, the Canucks were unable to generate a shot on net for the first six and a half minutes. By the ten minute mark, Colorado held a 3-1 lead in the shot department.
Jack Skille’s play this period reminded me of who we saw in pre-season. He made some nice plays to put pressure on the net and was finding ways to keep the puck in the Colorado end of the ice.
Luca Sbisa also made a number of nice plays this period. With some steady play on the blue line and strong defensive efforts.
The fourth line managed to keep the Avalanche hemmed in their own zone with about 6 minutes left in the period. While they still couldn’t get a shot on net, the energy in the building started to build and things started to click for the home team.
Gabriel Landeskog almost put his team on the board when Henrik Sedin batted the puck down in front of his own net.
Luckily, Landeskog’s shot was kept out of the net and the Canucks were able to continue their hunt for the first lead of the game.
While each team had their chances near the end of the period, Colorado picked up the pace and had a handful of scoring opportunities in the last few minutes of the opening frame.
John Mitchell put Vancouver on the power play with 11 seconds left in the period after tripping Loui Eriksson.
Troy Stecher had a fantastic one timer to start the second period, the only thing in preventing him from scoring was the goal post.
The power play unit showed some potential with three shots on net but couldn’t find a way to capitalize on the advantage.
As the period progressed, Vancouver found themselves in the drivers seat and the puck starting to work with them. Within five minutes of the middle frame, the Canucks took the lead when the mighty Bo Horvat put away his 11th goal of the year after receiving a nice pass from Ben Hutton.
Anton Rodin earned his first career point on the goal with the secondary assist.
Shortly after the goal, Michael Chaput found himself in the penalty box and the Canucks were shorthanded for the first time in the game.
Despite Vancouver’s best efforts, Colorado scored their first power play goal of their last 25 opportunities. After Bo Horvat was down a stick, the Avalanche sustained pressure in the offensive zone and wore down the penalty killing unit.
After a failed clear attempt from Markus Granlund, Mikko Rantanen scored the tying goal after finding himself with room while Carl Soderberg effectively screened Ryan Miller. Rantanen made no mistake and buried the puck top corner.
While the Canucks attempted to pick up where they left off prior to the penalty, they didn’t have long to work with before Alex Edler’s clearing attempt went over the glass and sent him to the box.
Brendan Gaunce played well on this penalty kill. He was able to clear the puck from the front of the net and broke up some pass attempts to keep the puck out of the net.
Right after the Colorado advantage ended, Fedor Tyutin decided to make things even on special teams chances when he interfered with Loui Eriksson. Unfortunately, Vancouver only managed a single shot.
I like what I’ve seen from the few glimpses of Sven Baertschi and Anton Rodin I’ve seen so far. While special teams have limited to the time we get to see the regular lines, they’ve been playing well together wand seem to read each other well when entering the zone.
With under two minutes left in the period, Sven Baertschi took back the lead when a third power play opportunity came to a close. This goal may not have been with the extra man, but it was about as close as you can get with the Sedins still on the ice after playing the entirety of the power play.
The Avalanche stepped up their effort to open the final period, playing aggressively and trying to score from any angle. Luckily, Ryan Miller was up to the challenge and held his own.
The fourth line had another chance when Brendan Gaunce found himself on a 2 on 1 opportunity with Jack Skille. While Gaunce couldn’t get the pass by Fedor Tyutin, you have to hope he can start finding the back of the net soon.
Spirits were high when it appeared that Brandon Sutter had increased his teams lead to 3-1 after his shot rang off the cross bar. However, video review revealed that the puck never actually entered the net.
This is a clear sign from the hockey gods that Brandon Sutter needs to change his goal song ASAFP #Canucks— Kent Basky (@KentGBasky) January 3, 2017
Minutes after his near goal, Sutter found himself in the penalty box for interference.
Following the successful penalty kill was some not so successful even strength play. After Ryan Miller found himself screened, Tyson Barrie put away his third goal of the season with a lot of game left to play.
In the final five minutes of the game, Vancouver was gifted a power play on a delay of game penalty. The home team played some strong hockey with man advantage, with the Sedin’s dictating play with their strong cycle game.
After a shot on net generated a big rebound, Sven Baertschi rushed in from the point to score his second goal of the game. After the team effort shown on the power play this game, it’s nice to be rewarded for it.
The goal also gave Canuck Captain Henrik Sedin the 600th assist of his career, moving him to 83rd in all time history.
Despite some late minute theatrics, Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks earned their fourth straight win. The win was also Miller’s 350th, win of his career.
#Canucks Goalie Ryan Miller is now the 3rd American born goalie to reach 350 career wins in the NHL. (Vanbiesbrouck - 374, Barrasso - 369)— Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) January 3, 2017