By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / October 23, 2023
Game 3: October 17th vs. The Philadelphia Flyers
The Canucks started their week Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Flyers home opener. After opening the season with two wins against the Oilers, the Canucks were looking to keep the winning streak alive now that they were facing a team expected to land further down the standings than both the Oilers and the Canucks.
Even though the Canucks won their second game against the Oilers, they didn’t perform well for long stretches of the game. Despite winning, they needed to improve on their last outing, especially facing a relentless John Tortorella team.
The Flyers opened the game with 1:45 of offensive zone time which had the Canucks absolutely scrambling. Egor Zamula ended the sequence with a point shot to put the Flyers up early for his first NHL goal of his career.
The rest of the first period went off with minimal to report on, but with just under three minutes remaining, Sean Couturier was sprung on a breakaway. Pettersson broke his stick trying to backcheck on Couturier, and Noah Juulsen got his stick in Couturier’s hands. The referees decided to grant Couturier a penalty shot on the play, despite being able to get a nearly unimpeded scoring chance.
Regardless of my biased opinion, Couturier was awarded the penalty shot, and he made the best of it. He the puck on his backhand, approached the net backward, and quickly pivoted back to the forehand changing the shooting angle so drastically that Demko could not cover it.
Couturier missed over 600 days with a back injury and this penalty shot was his first goal since December 10th, 2021. The Flyers ended the period up 2-0 on the Canucks.
The second period was all Flyers and Demko. The shot totals ended 22-3 in favour of the Flyers. The Canucks had a team Corsi of only 25.81 in the second period and gave up eight high-danger changes for Demko to clean up.
The third period was off to a good start when the Canucks scored early. Conor Garland crashed the net to collect a rebound from a Carson Soucy shot.
But as this Tweet (Xeet?) implies, the goal was waived off for goaltender interference. What this angle doesn’t show is Garland met a loose puck in the crease and pushed it in as Carter Hart’s pad came down. There was confusion on what was actually overturnable on this play, was it Boeser blocking Hart’s path to the puck? He didn’t touch the goalie. Regardless of how the ruling was made, the goal was turned over and the Canucks were still down 2-0.
The Canucks took the statistical edge in the third period, but ultimately did not score and gave Philly a 2-0 victory in their home opener.
Despite losing 2-0, Demko had an amazing night. He made 40/42 saves and ended the night with a .952 sv%. He also now has his first submission for Save of the Year.
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Game 4: October 19th vs. The Tampa Bay Lightning
A day of rest and one flight later the Canucks entered the ring against Tampa having suffered their first loss of the season against the Flyers two nights before.
No team produced through the first 10 minutes of the initial frame; however, Demko was faced with a number of challenging shots early on as a result of poor plays by Vancouver in their own zone. To capitalize on this point, the first goal of the game came off a simply embarrassing Tyler Myers giveaway.
Demko made a clearing attempt up the boards which was too hot to handle for Ian Cole, resulting in the puck bouncing to the open stick of one Tyler Myers. With all the time in the world, Myers decided on a tape-to-tape pass with Tampas Nicholas Paul, resulting in a mad scramble of chances that saw Tampa earn their first of the night.
This giveaway goal was the only significant progress that either team made in the game until the second period. However just 14 seconds into the second period, the Canucks quickly evened both the score and the shot totals thanks to a J.T. Miller centering pass from behind the goalie line to an open Brock Boeser in the slot. After this goal, the score was 1-1 and the shots 13-13.
The Canucks weren’t done yet however, as Tyler Myers saw some redemption for his blunder in the first period by collecting the puck with speed in the Tampa zone resulting in a clean rocket of a shot to the back of the Tampa’s net.
The intensity remained high as the period continued. By the halfway mark of the game, Tampa had taken 20 shots on net with the Canucks trailing that total by only four shots. Both teams demonstrated respectable puck control and saw significant individual efforts from some of their key players – Hughes and Kucherov each had a few good looks of their own.
With just under 5 minutes to go in the frame, it was a Michael Eyssimont wrister off of a speedy break-in that beat Demko cleanly to even up the score. Only a minute later, solid puck control by the Lightening saw a screened demko lose sight of a Kucherov wrister, and just like the Canucks had done at the beginning of the period, some quick back-to-back action tilted the ice back to the home side.
By the third period, the tilt only continued as a game that was once neck in neck with regards to shots and scoring opportunities continued to slide the home team’s way. The Lightning’s Kucherov bumped the goal differential from one to two after being the one to capitalize on dominant zone control by his team just a shy of the quarter mark of the period.
With an empty net and control in Tampa’s zone, the Canucks’ Miller found himself an easy back-door goal off of a scramble in front of the Lightning net; but unfortunately, it was the third and final goal the team would score. The compete was high, and the score was close but ultimately the Canucks couldn’t quite keep pace with the Bolts through 60 minutes.
Game 5: October 21st vs. The Florida Panthers
To finish off the Florida road trip the Canucks faced off against the 2-2 Florida Panthers, both teams holding the same early season record going into this contest.
Both teams had some significant chances early. Florida’s being the result of strong puck control in the Canucks zone and Vancouver’s most significant chance came off of a Florida blunder which saw Phillip Di Giuseppe with an unobstructed shot on net that unfortunately did not result in a goal.
Casey DeSmith was also tested by Florida often and early on in the game. Although the goals didn’t come from many of Florida’s initial chances, the team held the bulk of the possession early on, and DeSmith saw the bulk of the responsibility for the Canucks as a result.
Quinn Hughes’ shot from the point during the power play resulted in the game’s first goal just halfway through the period. There was initial worry that the goal might get called back due to Petterson making light contact with Bobrovsky’s glove hand just outside of the crease, but thankfully the goal stood.
Moments later the Cats would even score. A brilliant entry play by Rodrigues and Barkov resulted in an impressive individual effort by Barkov, that tied the game at one a side and concluded the period’s scoring for both teams.
By the halfway mark in the second period, the score remained the same. Although there was no shortage of chances as the Canucks worked their way up to 20 shots on net and the Panthers put up a respectable 14. It was Canucks #24 Carson Soucy that turned the tilt into a 2-1 game in favour of the Canucks. Off of a scramble at the point, Soucy peeled the puck off the boards walked into the slot and that was that. 2-1 Vancouver.
Moments later a backhanded pass behind the net from Kuzmenko to Pettersson and a lightning quick release saw Vancouver quickly turn their lead into a double-digit affair.
The scoreboard saw more of a workout in the third period with the first goal but it wouldn’t come until much later in the period, both DeSmith and Bobrovsky saw a significant amount of shots in their respective ends but it wouldn’t be until Sam Reinhart’s goal off of a rebounded point shot that the Panthers were back within one nearly halfway through the final frame.
Reinhart wasn’t done with his first goal, however. After significant Panther control in the Canucks end Reinhart, while in the slot, made the most off of a Rodrigues pass and tied the game three aside with just under 6 minutes left in regulation time.
Thankfully for the Canucks, Reinhart and all other Panthers stayed off the score sheet for the rest of the game. Deep in the Panthers zone as the Panthers were falling all over themselves and their own goalie, Phillip Di Giuseppe found Kuzmenko in front of the net off of a backhanded pass. All Kuzmenko had to do was wait out the flailing netminder as he skated laterally across the crease, before finding an open net to make it 4-3 Vancouver.
A final Brock Boeser empty net goal capped off the game and saw the Canucks earn their second win of the road trip.