Final Score: Minnesota Wild 3, Vancouver Canucks 2
Vancouver Head Coach Travis Green did a nice job narrating a welcome back video for the fans, prior to the big-time, part Star Wars, part Batman, season opening video featuring the Canucks players and some serious special effects. Minutes later, yes it’s been done before, but the fans a cappella version of “Oh Canada”, after being away for so long, was spine-tingling.
Also notable during the Vancouver Canucks player introductions, were the moans and groans mixed in with the cheers for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. Clearly some of the faithful didn’t appreciate the the lengthy delay in signing those hefty contracts. Ironically, the players’ desire to not miss anymore preseason was a major reason the deals got done when they did, for all intents and purposes on September 29th. The two officially re-signed with the Canucks on October 1st.
The Minnesota Wild appeared determined to get the first goal in this match, which they did from Mats Zuccarello going five-hole on a breakaway at 7:31 from Joel Eriksson-Ek and Dmitry Kulikov. Until Tuesday night, the Wild hadn’t scored the first goal in a game and hadn’t led after a first period through five games. “Zook” snuck in behind the Canucks’ 3-2 neutral zone alignment, took a pass from Eriksson-Ek at the Canucks blueline, flew in and ripped one through Thatcher Demko.
The Canucks best scoring chance by far came midway through the period on a 2-on-1 with JT Miller finding Brock Boeser heading to the net on the left wing. The one-time shot/redirection was kicked aside by Cam Talbot.
Junior and the Twins: At 3:25 of the 1st period, Nico Sturm of the Wild took a slapper from a teammate right in the junk. He went down in the right wing circle in the Canucks end, stayed down, and then finally slumped his way off the ice to the dressing room. Not sure how you treat that … ice? The official written play-by-play had it as “deflection, Nico Sturm, saved by Thatcher Demko.” Ouch.
Jack Rathbone fanned on a clearing attempt and the puck ended up in the back of the Canucks net. Whether one fans on it or not, going up the middle towards the centre point from a D-zone corner or half-wall is never one’s best bet. Jonas Brodin took advantage and put the Wild up 2-0 with his first goal of the season at 2:27.
Boeser created the best even strength scoring chance about 6-minutes into the period with a rush into the right wing circles, just failing to get his own rebound on a kick save by Talbot.
Moments later, at 7:44, Demko made another one of his game saving stops, robbing Frederick Gaudreau on the doorstep.
The Canucks really showed some impressive effort and perseverance on the power play at 10:46 of the 2nd period. Alex Chiasson cashed in with his second goal of the season on a redirection with five seconds remaining in the man advantage. Assists to Pettersson and Hughes.
After the Minnesota morning skate, Wild head coach Dean Evason expressed frustration at his club taking so many penalties this season, especially hooking calls. He must have been none too happy with Rem Pitlick and his hooking penalty at 14:31 of the second period, less than four minutes after the Canucks had clicked on the power play with Nick Bjugstad in the box for hooking.
Coming out of the box, Pitlick had a great scoring chance, he deked Demko completely on his breakaway, and hit the post on a half-empty net. Maybe an augur of good fortunes ahead … nope.
Chummy and the Chumsters: For us dinosaurs, who could never imagine a pleasant conversation between opponents taking place on the ice during a game, it still takes a bit of getting used to seeing the phenomena now. In the second period it was Eriksson Ek and Pettersson having a chitty chat in Swedish in the slot in the Wild zone with five minutes left in the second. “Hur mår du, Petey?” (“How are you?”)
This period contained two honours, the Canucks highlight of the night and the annoying play of the night.
Annoying Play of the Night: Boeser on a broken 3-on-1, firing a shot high and wide and then somehow standing in the left wing circle contemplating the miss for three seconds. Three seconds is an eternity. The ensuing rush for the MInnesota Wild, as Boeser slowly tracked back, led to the 3-1 goal for Matt Dumba at 3:54 of the third period.
Highlight of the Night: Bo Horvat’s power rush to the net and backhand shot that went top shelf over Talbot to cut the Wild lead to 3-2 with 4:07 remaining in the third period. The crowd jumped back into the game in a big way at this point, but the attempt at late heroics for the Canucks fell short. They never really generated much after pulling the goalie in the final minute.
Backhand Sauce: Here’s a tidbit that won’t surprise anyone. Those cross-ice, backhand sauce passes aren’t working.
Note: Tucker Poolman left the game with an upper body injury. No update.
Stay Tuned Here for the Five Big Takeaways from this 3-2 Minnesota Wild victory over the Vancouver Canucks.