VANCOUVER — The owner’s tweets were as boring as the game was spectacular.
Local owner Francesco Aquilini, who runs the Vancouver Canucks for his family, created a buzz Friday afternoon when he promised on Twitter to live-tweet that night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.
This had the potential to be magnificent for the media, disastrous for his coach and general manager. But Aquilini, who wears his local roots and fandom with pride, offered mostly pre-planned statements and uncontentious observations that didn’t come close to upstaging one of the most entertaining games of the National Hockey League season.
“I don’t know, what was the score, 7-6?” Canuck rookie Elias Pettersson said. “If we score six goals a game, we should be able to win full-time.”
If the Canucks score six goals a game, Aquilini won’t have to do anything by pose for a statue to stand beside the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The Canucks are still a long way from that, but with Pettersson and Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat and others here and on their way to the NHL, at least there is hope.
And nobody had to tweet about hope Friday night for people on the West Coast to know it’s there.
Pettersson, still just a Swedish teenager, scored the tying goal with 36 seconds remaining in regulation time, then capped his five-point night with an assist on Derrick Pouliot’s overtime winner, which bounced between the post and Avalanche forward Gabriel Bourque before settling in the net as Vancouver won its third straight game and improved to 9-6-0.
Horvat, who set up Pettersson’s tying goal that began with Boeser forcing Gabriel Landeskog into a turnover, was jamming the front of the net on a Vancouver power play when Pouliot’s puck tumbled in.
Boeser, last season’s Calder Trophy runner-up, matched Pettersson’s pair of goals and finished with four points.
“It gives you a glimpse of the future,” Boeser, 21, said. “A lot of fun.
“People obviously predicted us to not do well. But I think the belief in this room is huge and that’s why we’ve been playing such good hockey. We always talk about the type of team we want to be and the type of team we want to play like. Obviously, we don’t want to be in these run-and-gun games, but we found a way.”
It was a game everyone except coaches and goalies loved, as the Canucks blew three leads in the first half of the game, and the Avalanche squandered three in the second half.
Colorado had both points in its hands when superstar Nathan MacKinnon scored his second of the game on a terrific goalmouth feed from Landeskog for a power-play marker that made it 6-5 with just 97 seconds to go in the third period.
But Pettersson wristed in the tying goal from the high slot a minute later when the Canucks had an extra attacker on the ice.
“I’ve been in some wild games in junior, and Danny and Hank’s (the Sedins) last game here was pretty wild, but that one is definitely up there,” Horvat, the Canucks’ 23-year-old leader, said. “For us to come back and score with 30 seconds left just shows how poised we are. We don’t panic and just keep our foot on the gas. I think resiliency is a great word for our group.”
Before MacKinnon’s go-ahead goal, Canuck Markus Granlund had tied it 5-5 at 10:02 of the third, firing from the slot as Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer swirled his limbs like a synchronized swimmer trying to stay afloat.
Granlund’s goal offset one from Avalanche defenceman Nikita Zadorov, who made it 5-4 at 1:30 of the third when he beat Canuck goalie Jacob Markstrom cleanly with a glove-side wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle after a Vancouver turnover up ice.
It was a wonder that both goalies appeared for the third period after shooters had their way with them in the second.
Pettersson, who made beautiful plays to set up beautiful finishes by Boeser on the first two Vancouver goals, eventually tied it 4-4 at 17:33 of the middle period, banging in a loose puck from the top of the crease a few seconds after Troy Stecher’s shot struck iron.
Pumped to play in his hometown, Colorado forward Alex Kerfoot, the son of reclusive Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner Greg Kerfoot, scored one goal and set up another. His speed was perfectly suited to a wide-open game in which the Canucks, somewhat recklessly, looked willing to trade chances with the Avalanche.
In fairness to the Vancouver skaters, they probably just needed a couple more saves from Markstrom. Grubauer wasn’t any better.
Sheldon Dries scored on a deflection against Markstrom, who was also beaten by Ian Cole’s bar-down slapshot from the blueline and allowed MacKinnon’s shot to go through him on a poorly-defended three-on-three.
The Canucks’ $36-million man, Loui Eriksson, snapped a loose puck past Grubauer for his first goal since last February. The Avalanche netminder was badly fooled by Boeser on a first-period breakaway, and didn’t look ready for his quick shot early in the second after Pettersson, channelling retired Swede Henrik Sedin, bounced the puck to his linemate from the Canucks’ side of centre.
“I can’t help but smile after that pass off the boards on my second goal,” Boeser said. “He’s a special kid; no one thinks of that play except him and the Sedins. He’s a mini Pavel Datsyuk. He’s amazing.”
Make that #Amazing!!!