With the playoffs appearing less and less likely, the Vancouver Canucks are going to be adopting the role of spoilers as the season comes to an end. The New York Islanders are 14-6-3 since Doug Weight became their interim head coach and their recent run of success has landed them in a battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs for a playoff position.
Nikita Tryamkin returned to the line up tonight after missing 6 games due to the mumps. The big defenceman is a welcome addition to a team that’s taken a lot of hits in the injury department this season.
Speaking of missing players, Nikolay Goldobin was forced to sit out tonights game due illness (not the mumps). This late scratch means we were treated to seeing Alex Biega playing on the wing.
Both teams exchanged chances to begin the game. With shots coming few and far between, the best opportunity came when Jayson Megna had a chance on the breakaway.
Reid Boucher is continuing to show promise and seems to be a good fit with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi on the second line. His speed and heavy shot are a huge asset andI’m excited to see what he can do as the season winds down and his ice time increases.
Brandon Sutter refused to hit the breaks on his way to the net and ended up in the box after crashing into Thomas Greiss. The Canucks had a strong penalty kill, breaking up any chances the Islanders had and keeping the visitors to a single shot.
With 5 minutes left in the first period, Josh Bailey found a wide open John Tavares on the far side of the ice. Tavares had all the time in the world to put the puck into a wide open net. Both Bailey and Tavares are on 3 game point streaks.
Despite a power play opportunity, Vancouver was unable to even the score in the opening frame. They outshot New York by a healthy margin in the first 20 minutes and were ready to get on the scoreboard.
In the final minutes of the first, Brendan Gaunce fell awkwardly into the boards and headed straight to the dressing room. While he returned to start the second period, it was concerning to see another player potentially lost to injury.
The play that Gaunce appears to get hurt on pic.twitter.com/4C45AheOvS— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 10, 2017
Vancouver fans didn’t have to wait long to celebrate as Reid Boucher tied the game just 95 seconds into the middle period. After a great shift from all
Less than two minutes later, Sven Baertschi intercepted a pass from John Tavares. After faking a shot as he approached the net, he moved to his back hand to score his 16th goal of the season and give the Canucks the 2-1 lead.
This second line is looking dangerous. The speed and skill kept the Islanders defence on their toes and continued to create chances throughout the game.
With Josh Ho-Sang in the box for interference, Vancouver put together one of their better looking power play attempts. Both units were showing a ton of confidence and were buzzing around the Islanders net. They didn’t score, but it’s always great to see the Canucks playing with some swagger.
After a brutal turnover from Jayson Megna in the offensive zone, Josh Bailey made a heads up pass to spring Anthony Beauvillier on a breakaway. After faking the shot and moving to the backhand, Beauvillier tied the game 2-2.
Megna pulling some sweet moves I pull in hockey pic.twitter.com/X26yEjBIMw— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 10, 2017
Vancouver continued to limit New Yorks shots on net as the period progressed. After being outshot badly in the past week, it was nice to see Miller facing less fire.
Both teams exchanged power play chances in the final ten minutes of the period but neither of them could capitalize on the opportunity. Troy Stecher was noticeable on the man advantage and was making some great passes and taking some hard shots.
Alex Biega wasn’t on the ice very much this game but made his presence known with some big hits. He lead the Canucks with 5 hits in this game.
With 24 seconds left in the period, Nick Leddy’s shot deflected off of Brock Nelson’s stick. The tip in took an unlucky bounce off Tory Stecher and into the net.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after Vancouver’s performance this period. Despite outshooting their opponent 30 to 14, they went to the next period trailing 3-2.
Reid Boucher’s fine play carried on into the third period. He continues to shoot the puck and force the oppositions goalie to make a save.
There weren’t many whistles in the first 10 minutes of the third and play went back and forth at a steady clip. The majority of chances for both sides were coming on the rush but there weren’t many legitimate scoring opportunities.
As the final frame neared the midway mark, John Tavares came in on a two on one rush. Opting to shoot the puck in an attempt to secure the lead, Ryan Miller made a great save to keep his team in the game.
MILLSY.— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) March 10, 2017
Big saves, mid-3rd, to keep this a one-goal game. pic.twitter.com/GPnSCxm2Um
With six minutes left in regulation, the Sedins took to the ice with some tenacity. After some strong play, Henrik Sedin almost found the back of the net but couldn’t beat a sprawling Thomas Greiss.
The Islanders did well to contain Vancouver as the Canucks continued to attack in waves in an attempt to tie the game. With less than a minute left, New York almost had the game in hand.
With Ryan Miller on the bench for the extra man and 20 seconds left on the clock, Troy Stecher tied the game after faking the slap shot, moving to the outside and snapping a wrist shot into the net.
Troy from Richmond dangling through traffic like he's trying to find parking at Aberdeen Center, ties the game up later pic.twitter.com/GnpC6aNHkv— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 10, 2017
It sure made for an exciting way to end the game and at this point of the season, that’s all we can ask for.
The extra period was short lived after a series of plays kept a fatigued Ben Hutton on the ice for almost 2 minutes. It all started with him hustling to back check Josh Bailey.
Hutton with a back check Jeff Tambellini would have been proud of. Except then he iced the puck and was gassed after another end to end rush pic.twitter.com/oZ9PIAqZ0p— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 10, 2017
The game ended with Andrew Ladd getting to the net with little to no trouble and putting away Calvin de Haan’s pass behind an exhaust Hutton.