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THE MOJ: Now do you believe? Canucks do after stirring comeback

Game 1 more proof Canucks can win any game no matter what the circumstances
Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller celebraters his goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Do you believe?

The Vancouver Canucks certainly do after a stunning 5-4 comeback win over the Edmonton Oilers in the first game of their second-round playoff series Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

Down 4-1 late in the second period, the Canucks got a goal from Elias Lindholm to cut the margin to 4-2 heading into the third period. Lindholm attempted a pass to Dakota Joshua from the side of the crease but watched it deflect off Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner’s stick and into the net.

That break gave the Canucks some juice heading into the third period.

J.T. Miller’s sharp angle redirect of a Brock Boeser pass from the right wall at 9:38 of the third made it a one-goal game at 4-3.

Then the playoff legend of Nikita Zadorov grew with yet another chapter as he wired home a shot from the point that went off Edmonton’s Corey Perry to tie the game at 4-4 at 13:47.

Then 39 seconds later, Zadorov won a puck battle behind the Canucks goal, then fired a stretch pass to center ice to Dakota Joshua. Joshua then executed a nifty little backhand pass that sent Conor Garland down the right side. Garland faked a shot and then fired home the winner from a sharp angle to cap off the comeback.

Like we mentioned in our previous column, the Canucks are becoming a dangerous team because they believe they can win any game no matter what the circumstances.

“Obviously we have come back before. This team has a never-give-up mentality. We were down 4-1 but it still felt like we could come back. We did a good job of staying with it and got the result we needed,” noted Lindholm.

“We are always confident. Like Huggy (Quinn Hughes) said, no matter what the score is we are going to keep playing hard and keep playing the same way. Tonight was an example of it – just staying with it – and we got the bounces tonight,” said Joshua.

From the Oilers perspective, it was more of a situation of not being aggressive enough with a 4-1 lead.

“They’re a good team. They were doing everything they could to come back and we were doing everything we could to hold onto the lead. That happens in the playoffs. We try to hold on to leads and sometimes maybe we’re a little bit too passive,” said Connor McDavid, who failed to record a shot for the first time in 55 career playoff games.

“Obviously it wasn’t how we wanted to play. We could have been a little more assertive. We allowed them to get back in the game,” said Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch.

The numbers on the analytical site Natural Stattrick really didn’t back up those claims though.

As far as high danger scoring chances, the Canucks had five in the first, four in the second and only one in the third. As for the Oilers, they had two in the first, one in the second and one in the third.

Those numbers backed up the way Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet saw the game.

“I said after it was 4-1, it’s not that bad. Don’t get frustrated – we don’t have to push all our chips in. I thought we were pretty good. I think that was the key. There wasn’t a lot of guys hanging their heads. Coaches weren’t yelling and screaming. It wasn’t that bad – I thought we were pretty good,” said Tocchet.


* A bench minor for too many men by the Canucks resulted in an early Oiler power play goal by Zach Hyman at 2:11 of the first to give the Oilers the lead. Later on in the period, a miscue by Ian Cole resulted in a Mattias Ekholm goal to make it 2-0. A goal by Joshua early in the second period brought the Rogers Arena crowd to life and gave the Canucks some juice but that was short-lived as Edmonton’s Cody Ceci scored after his shot caromed off of Cole to give the Oilers a 3-1 lead. Hyman scored a weak goal on a wrist shot :45 seconds later to make it 4-1 Oilers at 13:11 of the second period.

* Arturs Silovs got the start in goal for Vancouver and stopped 14 of 18 shots. Skinner made 19 of 24 saves for Edmonton.

* The Oilers special teams continued their post-season dominance by blanking the Canucks on four power play opportunities to run their streak to 16 straight kills in the playoffs. Meanwhile with Hyman’s power play goal the Oilers went 1 for 2 on the night with the man advantage and now are 10 for 22 on the power play in the post-season.

* Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers left the game in the second period and managed to return in the third yet still looked off. “Nothing at all, just some cramping,” said Knoblauch. That explanation could be taken with a grain of salt considering how team’s do not reveal injury information during the playoffs.

* The usually stoic Tocchet erupted with emotion after the win – even high-fiving fans as he made his way into the Canucks dressing room. “I don’t like seeing me doing that. I really don’t. Not game one,” chuckled Tocchet, joking he should be fined.

* Game 2 goes Friday night at 7pm at Rogers Arena.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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