By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / April 16, 2023
Game 80: April 10th vs. The L.A. Kings
This game marked the beginning of the end of the Canucks season. Well, let’s be real it was over long before this week kicked off, but nevertheless, Monday night’s game against the L.A. Kings marked the official start of the last week of play for the Vancouver Canucks, and all other NHL teams like them who fell short of the playoffs this season.
After some initial issues with the Kings’ red carpet getting stuck to the ice after the opening rigmarole, the game was finally off and running. The most notable thing about this contest is that it was one of those special instances where the visiting team (in this case the Canucks) got to where their dark jerseys, while the hometown L.A. Kings wore their light jerseys. It was a vibrant affair wardrobe-wise, as the Canucks donned their third jersey, the flying skate, for the final time this season. While the kings just wore their standard white jerseys, they also treated the viewing crowd to their disco ball shiny silver helmets.
Although there was plenty to look at in terms of on-ice fashion there was not much in the way of production through the first period. No goals were scored by either team through the first 20 minutes of play. The two clubs exchanged power play opportunities one a piece through the first period, but both would come up empty on the man advantage.
The second period saw a similarly uneventful first half. That was until Sheldon Dries and Sean Durzi, got themselves into a first fight, which certainly elevated the atmosphere in the building. Both Dries and Durzi exchanged quite a few solid punches, and although neither play is necessarily “big” they sure were resilient blow after blow. The fight ended with the two players drifting towards the player’s benches amidst their struggles, where they were separated by the officials.
This fight really got the game going, but perhaps not in a good way for the Canucks. The next notable event would be a Kings’ goal, by the hands of Arthur Kaliyev, who just squeaked one past Delia during Kings’ pressure towards the last five minutes of the period.
The action however would not stop there. As J.T. Miller found himself exchanging blows with Adrian Kempe towards the final minutes of the middle frame. The two danced around centre ice for a while before finally engaging. Miller landed the bulk of the blows but was turning and pulling Kempe every which way. A technique which Kempe ultimately used by utilizing Millers’ force against him, and pulling Miller inwards and then to the ground.
The third period would see even fewer things go right for the Canucks as a Miller giveaway would allow the Kings to quickly cycle the puck on a rush into Vancouver’s zone, where Vladislav Gavrikov would be left undefended, and would net the Kings their second goal just five minutes into the third period.
The Canucks would fail to produce for the rest of the game, and no other fighting opportunities would present themselves, to give the chance to switch momentum. Drew Doughty would send the puck down the length of the ice during the final minutes of the frame, while the Canucks net sat empty, and just like that an empty net goal and a 3-0 Kings win would be all she wrote.
Game 81: April 11th vs. The Anaheim Ducks
The Canucks are all in on Elias Pettersson’s attempt to reach 40 goals and 100 points, at this point, it’s the only thing to play for. The Canucks started with some strange lines, but they stacked the top end putting J.T. Miller on Pettersson’s wing. Pettersson enters the game with 38 goals and 99 points.
At the mid-mark of the first period, Pettersson would get his 100th on Brock Boeser’s goal. How fitting that the Lotto Line got back together and Petey’s best buddy Boeser scored on Petey’s milestone marker.
Andrei Kuzmenko would score goal number 39 also on the power play. Akito Hirose would start the breakout and land a perfect pass on Kuzmenko’s stick at the Ducks’ blue line. Kuzmenko would score uncontested on the breakaway
The Ducks would score next after Mason McTavish drew a penalty, and he scored on the power play he drew. The Canucks would be 3/3 on power plays during the first.
The Canucks would start the second period looking to score on all three of their power plays so far this game but they wouldn’t do it. The Ducks would tie the game with a goal from new guy Drew Helleson. Helleson’s goal comes in his second NHL game and get this, it was a knuckle puck, for the team that invented the knuckle puck.
JT Miller would score the go-ahead goal to put the Canucks up 3-2 in the third period of a tip-in shot, and this would be the third landmark reached tonight as JT Miller reached 200 career goals scoring his 31st of the year
That would be the final goal of the night and The Canucks would twist the knife on their dying lottery odds by collecting a much-unneeded two points, leaving the Ducks with none. At the very least, it was a fun game for the fans.
Game 82: April 13th vs. The Arizona Coyotes
The Canucks and their fans would take over Mullet Arena for their final goal of this 2022-23 season. Not only was it the Canucks’ last game of the year, but it was of course John Garrett’s last game as the colour commentator for the team, as John is set to retire after this season. It was an emotional game for that aspect alone, elevating what would’ve otherwise been a pointless ending to a pointless season for Vancouver.
Under five minutes into the first period, Elias Pettersson earned himself his 102nd point of the year, with a goal so smooth yet so simple EP40 made it look like anyone could do it. Petey controlled the puck in Arizona’s end, and from the top of the blue line, he cut in wide towards the net, and once he made it close enough, just skillfully tucked it between the legs of Karel Vejmelka, and into the back of the net.
The Yotes would answer not long afterthought as Liam O’Brien in a show of effective hand-eye coordination would pick a rebound of Delia out of mid-air, and quickly direct it into the Canucks net with the shaft of his stick. After just over five minutes of play, the game was even.
This wouldn’t stand for long though as Canucks control on the power play would afford them continued possession time in Arizona’s end, resulting in a Conor Garland goal on his former team as Anthony Beauvillier did a good jog cycling the puck around the Coyotes net, and finding Garland for a one-timer
At the halfway mark of the period, Travis Boyd would also earn himself a holding call drawn by Elias Pettersson. A penalty that would be costly for the Yotes, as control of Arizona’s zone on the power play would lead to a J.T. Miller snipe and a Brock Boeser screen that would help the puck find the back of the Arizona net for the second time during the game.
Boyd would get some revenge as one of the few Yotes zone controls of the first period would find a rebound off of Delia come his way, and Boyd would make short work of netting this opportunity, to allow his team to finish the period only down by one.
The second period of play got off to a slow start as the first shot of the period wouldn’t come for over five minutes of play. Both teams seemingly upped their defensive play between periods the block one another from any meaningful chances early on in the frame.
Just about halfway through the frame however, things would loosen up a bit as Liam O’Brien would earn his second goal of the night off of a not-very-pretty goal that had the puck awkwardly deflect off of Delia and into the net. Bringing the Coyotes just within one goal of the Vancouver Canucks. Tyler Myers was called for Interference against Barrett Hayton near the end of the period, giving Arizona a late chance to even the score, yet they ultimately would not capitalize, the home team would end the second down by one.
The Canucks seemingly exhausted all of their offensive firepower in the first period as through the balance of the last frame they just couldn’t get anything else working for them. The general pace of the Canucks after the 40 minutes prior was beginning to slow, the team no doubt finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that was this troubled season.
Josh Brown and Kyle Burroughs livened things up a little bit halfway through the third period with the game’s first fight. It wasn’t too much to write home about, but it was certainly fun for the Arizona fans and the Canucks fans that were in attendance.
This game, unfortunately, refused to end however, as late in the period the Canucks gave Nick Schmaltz just too much room to work with, and the Coyotes would end up tying the game and forcing a pointless final overtime of the season.
Thankfully though former Coyote and current Canuck with two goals already that game would put the button on this contest and the season. Conor Garland would showcase his speed and puck handling for one final time on the year as his quick feet allowed him to solo cycle inside the Arizona end, putting him right in front of their goaltender, and allowing Garland to pull off a sneaky forehand backhand move that closed off the contest.
Just like that the Canucks season would end on a win, and have them ultimately playing above 500 hockey through the balance of the year. With a final record of 38-37-7, the Canucks season was officially close out in Arizona, and let me tell you, it didn’t come soon enough.