Canucks fans were fired up on Thursday night in anticipation for a visit to the stagnating – but still fierce – rivalry between Vancouver and Boston. The Bruins were already at a disadvantage before the puck dropped with the absence of starting goalie, Tukka Rask – but it didn’t matter. The visiting Canucks fell 6-3 to Chara’s chumps in a bizarre one at the Boston Garden.
Right off the hop Vancouver struck. 2 minutes in, a gritty fourth line goal finished by Derek Dorsett and the Bean Town fans are silenced. It did not last. Swan-wearing Grammy winner: Bjork struck back only 30 seconds later to tie things up… Then, 3 minutes later, it happened.
Erik Gudbranson, you remember that tough son-of-a-gun we picked up in exchange for McCann and a pick last season? Yeah, the guy who was criticized up and down for a lack of physical play? That guy laid a massive hit from behind on Vatrano who crumbled like day-old coffee cake under the beastly defenseman. 5 minutes for boarding and a misconduct. You got the right idea Erik, just dial it back a tad, fella.
The Canucks had a pretty solid-looking penalty kill until this game started, but an already short-handed defensive core (Edler out Gudbranson out for the hit) ate 3 quick power-play goals in succession as the “Nilsson hype” fizzled in a hurry, in comes Markstrom. All of a sudden, the scoreline was 4-1 in favour of the villainous Bruins and their stunted mascot; Brad Marchand – who added to the lead halfway through the second frame.
Here’s where the silver-lining comes.
The game, at 5-1 was all but wrapped up; but our boys rallied. Thomas Vanek added a power-play marker (his third goal of the season) tipping in a Gagner shot to make it 5-2. Only 30 seconds later, the Killer B’s (Bo Horvat, Baertschi, Boeser) struck again with a Horvat slider through a screen – 5-3 with a dash of Vancouver momentum. But alas, that would do it for Canuck scoring. Despite a few flashes of high-pressure hockey, the Canucks failed to convert despite refusing to throw in the towel.
Patrice Bergeron added yet another power-play goal in the third, twisting the knife back to 2011 as the match-up slipped into the history books, never to be spoken of again.
While the result was pretty ugly, the Canucks will be able to put it in the rear-view in a hurry as they prepare to take on Jack Eichel and the Sabres in Buffalo.
Couple of question marks in this one: Does Travis Green go with Markstrom, who didn’t look too too bad last night, or does he give Nilsson another opportunity against his former team (considering he played 10 minutes last night)? Secondly, who jumps into the line-up to replace Gudbranson? My money is on local boy Patrick Weircoch who can bring some size and sandpaper to a defensive core that now desperately needs it.