VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks have scored 12,552 goals in the National Hockey League and none of them won them the Stanley Cup.
But that doesn’t mean they haven’t scored spectacular goals, beautiful goals, momentous goals. Trying to identify the greatest goals in franchise history, where do we begin?
Firstly, by definition, the greatest, most impactful goals would all be in the playoffs, and come in clusters around the Canucks’ three runs to the Stanley Cup Final. And since we think there are a lot of unforgettable goals among the 11,918 they’ve scored in the regular season, we’re sprinkling some of those among the playoff icons.
Here is Sportsnet’s completely arbitrary and subjective most memorable goals in Canucks history.
October 19, 1991, Pacific Coliseum
Canucks 5-Flames 2, Game 8, Regular Season
There once was a song about Gino Odjick. Seriously. The chorus wasn’t very imaginative, ‘Gino, Gino, Gino, Gino.’ But that’s how popular Odjick was. This was one of the games that made him a folk hero when Odjick, one of the toughest Canucks ever, beat Mike Vernon on a penalty shot at 8:33 of the third period, clinching a win that helped speed Vancouver to an 8-1-1 start ahead of the arrival later that fall of Pavel Bure.
“I was standing there, really nervous,” Odjick told Sportsnet this week. “I didn’t know what to do. It’s Saturday night, Hockey Night in Canada, and I’ve got a penalty shot. I went down and looked right, shot left, and it was like, ‘Oh, my God, I scored on a penalty shot.’ I was so happy. I did my war dance, jumping up and down like a kid who just scored in Game 7 overtime to win the Stanley Cup.
“People still ask me about two things: the penalty shot against Calgary, and trying to fight the St. Louis team in the (1995) playoffs.”
That was when Odjick, with the Canucks down 8-2 on home ice in Game 6 against the Blues, went after Glenn Anderson for poking at a puck under Vancouver goalie Kay Whitmore. Odjick dropped two Blues to the ice before pummelling Adam Creighton in a fight, then chasing shirtless after Anderson. Oh, the Canucks won Game 7 in St. Louis.
April 10, 2010, Rogers Arena
Canucks 7-Flames 3, Final Game, Regular Season
What’s the prettiest goal by Daniel and Henrik Sedin? May as well ask what’s the nicest painting by Monet or Van Gogh?
There was nothing like Sedinery before or after the greatest players in franchise history introduced a new style of hockey to the NHL.
A “meaningless game” at the end of the 2009-10 regular season produced this masterpiece by the twins: Henrik blindly redirecting Christian Ehrhoff’s shot-pass from the point to Daniel, who with a step on defenceman Ian White skated the puck to the net before beating Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff by reversing his stick between his legs.
Rarely did the Sedins celebrate a regular-season goal as effusively as they did this one, which not only completed a hat trick for Daniel but gave Henrik the NHL scoring title ahead of a couple of schmucks named Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
“It was only three or four years ago that we weren’t good enough third liners, so it’s been a fun journey,” Henrik told reporters after the game. “It’s the best thing you can do, to play in a Canadian market like this. You can’t really ask for anything better.”
Dec. 10, 1980, Maple Leaf Gardens
Canucks 8-Maple Leafs 5, Regular Season
There were few characters in hockey in the late 1970s and early-’80s bigger than Dave (Tiger) Williams, who was traded to the Canucks in February 1980 in a blockbuster deal for Rick Vaive and Bill Derlago. Toronto won the trade, but Williams became a key contributor on the Cinderella Vancouver team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 1982.
He had 35 goals in his first full season with the Canucks, none more memorable than the one he scored upon his return to Toronto, where he broke a 4-4 tie at 9:43 of the third period by taking a pass from Per-Olov Brasar and shooting past Leafs goalie Jim Rutherford.
It wasn’t so much the goal that people remember as Williams’ celebration. The ferocious winger bolted back up ice before riding his stick like a horse while pointing to the crowd, which included the Leafs’ cantankerous owner, Harold Ballard.
“It wasn’t about sticking it to anybody,” Williams told Sportsnet. “It wasn’t something I thought about or planned. It just friggin happened. It was my first game back (in Toronto); I loved playing there and it was a winning goal. It was just a spontaneous thing. Either out of either stupidity or genius, it just happened. I never ever did it again.”
May 24, 1994, Pacific Coliseum
Canucks 4-Maple Leafs 3, OT, Game 5, Third Round Playoffs
Three times the Canucks have scored a goal that put them in the Stanley Cup Final. The scorer of the first one, in 1982, would make a great trivia question: Lars Molin had the game-winner in a 6-2 blowout of the Black Hawks at old Chicago Stadium. But either or both of Kevin Bieksa’s Stanchion Goal against the San Jose Sharks in 2011 or Greg Adams’ goal against Toronto in 1994 could be on this list.
We’re going with “Greg Adams! Greg Adams!” because it was against the Maple Leafs, 1994 is the most fondly remembered of the Canuck runs to the finals, and announcer Jim Robson’s goal call was just too good to pass up.
On the first shift of the second overtime, Adams got free of check Dave Andreychuk to chip the rebound from Dave Babych’s point shot past Leafs goalie Felix Potvin.
The Hall-of-Famer Robson: “Back to the line to Babych. Long shot. Potvin had trouble with it. Adams, shoots, scores! Greg Adams! Greg Adams! Adams gets the winner 14 seconds into the second overtime. The Vancouver Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup Final!”
There was a sense of disbelief as Robson said it. The rest of us knew exactly how he felt.
Oct. 3, 2018, Rogers Arena
Canucks 5-Flames 2, Opening Game, Regular Season
Bure never scored in his Canucks debut, but Elias Pettersson did.
The franchise’s most anticipated arrival since the Russian Rocket, Pettersson was still just 19 years old and fresh off an MVP season in Sweden when he lasered a wrist shot over Mike Smith’s left shoulder on a two-on-one, scoring at 13:48 of the first period on his first National Hockey League shot.
“I was thinking that he was passing it the whole time,” Canuck coach Travis Green said. “And praying that he would shoot.
The unforgettable goal launched what would become a Calder Trophy season for Pettersson, the first by a Canuck since Bure in 1992. After celebrating on the ice, Pettersson returned to the bench, beaming as the crowd continued to roar. A star was born that night.
“I got a blackout, I was so happy,” Pettersson said. “It didn’t feel it was real at first. It was an amazing feeling, a feeling I will never forget.”
April 26, 2011, Rogers Arena
Canucks 2-Blackhawks 1 OT, Game 7, First Round Playoffs
It’s not quite the greatest goal in Canucks history, but probably the most impactful. It saved an era and a team that would go on to the Stanley Cup Final and establish itself as the best Vancouver has seen.
After their nemesis Blackhawks tied the game shorthanded late in the third period, forcing Game 7 into overtime in a series Chicago had trailed 0-3, the Canucks won it at 5:22 of OT when Alex Burrows gloved down defenceman Chris Campoli’s weak flip-clearance and slapped a fluttering puck past goalie Corey Crawford’s blocker.
Play-by-play announcer John Shorthouse’s radio call lived up to the moment: “Burrows steals, cutting in, shoots, scores! They’ve slayed the dragon!”
“It was a crazy moment,” Burrows told The Province newspaper years later. “I just shot it as hard as I could. I knew the puck was rolling and I was just waiting at a clean shot at it. In the end, I think where it went was pure luck. The puck could have gone anywhere.”
April 30, 1994, Calgary Saddledome
Canucks 4-Flames 3, OT, Game 7, First Round Playoffs
Out of the 634 Vancouver playoff goals, this one is widely considered the greatest in franchise history because it became a demarcation point – the goal that changed how the Canucks were viewed and what both players and fans expected. Canucks history has two parts: Before Bure and After Bure.
A 12-point underdog before the series began after Vancouver scuffled through the regular season, the Canucks, who had always been better at finding ways to lose than finding ways to win, completed an unthinkable series comeback when Bure looped himself onside before taking Jeff Brown’s outstanding breakaway pass and beating goalie Mike Vernon on a forehand deke at warp speed, 2:20 into the second overtime.
“It was unbelievable feeling,” Bure told The Athletic last fall. “We went to three overtimes straight and especially Game 7 was double overtime. It was a 50/50 chance and Calgary, in my mind, they were a stronger team. But our guys played unbelievable.”
Adams had tied the game late in the third period after the Canucks won Game 6 in overtime on Trevor Linden’s goal, and Game 5 in OT on Geoff Courtnall’s bullet to the top corner.
Those goals were pretty memorable, too.