It has felt for a while now that nothing could match Game 7 against Chicago in 2011 as the greatest game on home ice in Vancouver. Last night, Daniel and Henrik Sedin put on one last command performance that showed they still have every bit of the magic that made us fall in love with them. Truly a magical night, giving Canucks fans something to take with them into a future that seems so uncertain.
From the opening seconds, where Henrik rang a hard shot (!!!) off the post, even if you thought maybe the emotions of it all could overcome them, the Sedins showed they came to play, as they always have. Cycling, dizzying passes had the Arizona defence chasing them most of the night, and the crowd roared its approval every time they stepped on the ice.
And the serendipity of Daniel’s first goal may have made jaws drop across the hockey world, but for those of us in Canucks Nation, it was likely the least surprising thing of the night.
Arizona, to their credit did their best to try and spoil the night, taking a 3-1 with two late 2nd period goals. And like we saw against Vegas a couple nights ago, it was time for a 3rd period comeback reminiscent of some of the Canucks teams from that era where the Sedins were at their peak. This time though, it was the future of the Canucks, with Jake Virtanen and Brendan Leipsic (with an absolutely stunning spin-o-rama goal) that tied it up for the Canucks.
Gotta say, for a guy who hasn’t been here long, Brendan Leipsic’s scored some pretty memorable goals. And how about Virtanen, scoring in this game after growing up idolizing the two guys he would go on to play with.
That 3rd period was probably the most dominant 20 minutes the Canucks produced in this season of disappointment. And it set the stage for a storybook ending that if pre-written on paper would be laughed at for its improbability.
One thing that really stood out was the wonderful job John Shorthouse and John Garrett did. Sometimes silence speaks volumes, and the breaks they took, letting the noises of the game tell the story made the entire experience that much more remarkable. And kudos to the Coyotes crew for a fine job in their calls as well.
The Canucks make mistakes. A lot of them. But the way they handled last night was flawless, and they should be commended for it. Whether you were in the arena, or at home watching, this was as fitting a tribute to these incredible warriors as you could hope for.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
And because the universe works in such mysterious ways, last night was career game 1000 for the greatest goaltender ever to wear the blue and green, Roberto Luongo. The Panthers are desperately fighting for a playoff spot, and faced a huge challenge in that path as they took on the Boston Bruins. While it can’t change the past, it felt really good to see our friend Lu go into Boston and get that victory. It’s still going to require a miracle for them to get in, as they need to win out, as well as a Flyers regulation loss against the Rangers. The Panthers hold the tie-breakers, so fingers crossed for Florida.
Elsewhere, the New Jersey Devils clinched with a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers won at home against Carolina, and need a single point to clinch tomorrow. The Kings took over 3rd in the Pacific with a 5-4 OT win over Minnesota, led by a 4 goal performance by Dustin Brown. No, really. This loss by Minnesota means they will play Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs, and let me tell you, this might be one of the more underrated first round matchups.
The Avalanche blew a chance to clinch, dropping a 4-2 decision to San Jose. They sit one point ahead of St Louis. The Blues play Chicago tonight, and then face the Avs tomorrow in what will be the must watch game of the night, aside from the farewell performance by the Sedins in Edmonton.
DOWN ON THE FARM
The Utica Comets took an early 2 goal lead, but couldn’t make it stick, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Toronto Marlies yesterday afternoon at the Ricoh Center. Goals by Jalen Chatfield (his 2nd in as many games) and Tanner McMaster gave the Comets the lead in the 1st. The Marlies made it 2-1 in the 2nd and tied it on a Vincent LoVerde goal in the 3rd before an Adam Brooks winning goal in OT.
Richard Bachman had 39 saves in the loss, and Lukas Jasek collected another 2 assists, giving the 6th round pick from 2015 1G 4A in 2 games with the Comets. These teams meet again tonight at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, and it’s looking more and more like a first round series between these two teams.