NHL Final Score: Los Angeles Kings 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 – Shoot-out
Pregame: Fourth line Vancouver Canucks forward Justin Dowling entered Covid protocol on Thursday and was quickly replaced by Matthew Highmore coming off injured reserve a couple of hours later. Dowling skated Wednesday night in Anaheim with Tyler Motte and Juho Lammikko. Highmore’s last game was October 28th at Rogers Arena against the Philadelphia Flyers. He has two assists in eight games played.
Brock Boeser and Phil Di Giuseppe remain unavailable due to Covid.
With a win tonight Bruce Boudreau becomes the first coach in NHL history to win his first eight games with a new club.
Jaroslav Halak gets the start in net against Jonathan Quick of the Kings. Quick was pulled from the loss to the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday night in the second period after giving up five goals on fifteen shots.
The Slovakian Stopper
Halak started the season, his first in Vancouver, nineteen wins short of 300 for his NHL career. That number dropped to 18 after he finally picked up his first one in the 4-3 comeback victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 14th. Good for him. His numbers were equivalent to starter Thatcher Demko, if not better in certain categories early on, but he simply couldn’t get any offensive support. The Canucks gave him a total of five goals over his first four starts and a grand total of 11 goals on the season.
Jaro’ didn’t see much vulcanized rubber in the first period, a little bit of traffic early, but just five total saves.
Things got busy in the second as the Kings dominated play. They had outshot the Canucks 8-1 at the 7:39 mark when Brendan Lemieux scored to make it 1-0 for LA. Halak made a number of sterling saves, included two challengers from Adrian Kempe four minutes in.
It’s tough being the back-up as you rarely get a plumb assignment. This time, he was counting on his teammates to battle a heavy team in the 2nd half of a back-to-back set coming off a long layoff. Not the ideal scenario.
It was deja vu all over again for Jaro’ Thursday night. The Canucks struggled finding traction through the neutral zone, were outshot 35-18 and scored one goal.
The Unique Joy of Hockey
When you watch 13-minutes of continuous NHL action without a whistle, like we did in the first period between the Vancouver Canucks and the Kings Thursday night, you’re reminded of one of the simple, pure reasons why hockey’s the greatest game. Changing on the move. The concept doesn’t apply to football, it probably could to basketball if things were different, or of course no chance in baseball.
The term “shift” naturally indicates work ethic, and when you stack one after another after another, you often get breathtaking sequences. I’m not sure why I’m reminding you of something you already know but sometimes it’s just nice to step back and appreciate the simple elements of the game that make it so tremendous.
The advertisers weren’t crazy about it, because of irregular, stunted, or missed TV time-outs, but the LA Kings and Vancouver Canucks actually played from :30 into the 1st period, to 13:30 into the period, without a whistle.
First the Canucks will have to survive a penalty shot.
:57-seconds into the 3rd period Lemieux was hooked by Tyler Myers on a breakaway. Halak stopped Lemieux trying to go 5-hole on the PS.
First step complete: Bo Horvat on the power play from JT Miller and Elias Pettersson at 12:06. 1-1 hockey game.
Step two: Force overtime.
Step three: Shoot-out, where the Canucks are 3-1 this season.
Step four: Couldn’t take that step. Kings win it, two successful shooters to one.
Simmer’s Vancouver Canucks 3 Stars:
3) JT Miller – Battled, logged ice time, made a great second effort to find Horvat on the Canucks goal.
2) Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Led team in time-on-ice. Steady in a game when the team was outworked for two periods.
1) Jaroslav Halak – As he has all season, kept his team in a game he couldn’t win because his teammates couldn’t score.