Eleven goals, two more blown leads, two more comebacks and another overtime winner from Elias Pettersson. Whatever. Ain’t nothing.
These are the Vancouver Canucks and, brothers and sisters, we’ve seen some things.
The greatest spectacle on ice wheeled into San Jose on Wednesday and, two nights after overcoming a four-goal deficit to beat the Montreal Canadiens, the Canucks rallied with a late equalizer before beating the Sharks 6-5 when Pettersson capped 4½ minutes of overtime mayhem by shooting stick side on goalie Eetu Makiniemi after Vancouver netminder Spencer Martin had stopped Timo Meier’s breakaway at the other end.
In two games, that’s 11 goals against and four points for the Canucks.
The team has allowed 40 goals in their last 11 games — and is 8-3-0.
None of this makes sense, of course, but then neither do the Canucks. One-third of the way through their National Hockey League season, we’re not sure if they’re awful or brilliant, but they are outrageously fun to watch. As long as you are unconcerned about things like defending and high blood pressure.
It was Vancouver’s third straight OT win and gave the Canucks five consecutive road victories for the first time since 2015. It also allowed the team to inch back to .500, 12-12-3, after starting this season with seven straight losses.
Yeah, we’ve seen some things.
Dakota Joshua, with two goals, Nils Hoglander, Ilya Mikheyev and Andrei Kuzmenko also scored for the Canucks, who blew a 3-1 second-period lead and trailed 5-4 until Kuzmenko guided in Pettersson’s goalside slap-pass on a Vancouver power play with 3:53 remaining in regulation time.
“We had the game and then we gave it away,” Bruce Boudreau, the winning coach, told reporters in San Jose. “I think a lot of times a team like San Jose, once they get the lead, they start to panic a little bit because they haven’t had a lot of wins. It’s never-ending — whichever team seems to be losing gets a (power play) and we took advantage of it. Petey made an incredibly good play to Kuz and he scored. And the rest is sort of what it is.”
The Canucks forced overtime on Monday with a similar play, J.T. Miller to Kuzmenko, with only 1:25 left in the third period.
Had they lost Wednesday, it would have been the eighth time this season — in 27 games — that the Canucks were defeated after leading by at least two goals. But, honestly, when Logan Couture tied it 3-3 with a shorthanded goal that trickled through Martin halfway through the middle period, it felt like the game was just beginning.
“It took us two months to get even,” Boudreau said of the Canucks’ record. “We don’t want to have to do that again. I mean, we’ve got a tough schedule coming up again … but I think we want to get ahead of the bar.”
Vancouver remained two points out of a playoff spot.
With No. 1 goalie Thatcher Demko out six weeks with a leg injury, Martin is a starting NHL goalie for the first time. Until last winter, the 27-year-old wasn’t an NHL goalie at all. This is all new to him, including getting back into the crease Wednesday after he was hooked by Boudreau Monday after allowing four goals on eight shots.
Martin was beaten on the first one he faced in San Jose, a bouncing deflection by Nick Bonino just 18 seconds after the opening faceoff and a couple of seconds after Bo Horvat’s giveaway. The Canuck goalie looked suspect on at least a couple of goals.
But Martin also made a pile of five-alarm saves among the 39 shots he faced, including in overtime when he stared down Meier and Tomas Hertl. The teams combined for nine shots in 4:25 of OT.
“Let’s face it, they had some 10-bell shots from the slot (and) they didn’t score,” Boudreau told reporters. “(Former Boston Bruin goalie) Gerry Cheevers once said he didn’t care if he was winning 1-0 or 7-6, but he always stopped the last one. And that’s what I feel Marty’s like most nights.”
With Collin Delia up from the minors to back him, Martin now gets a full recovery day and practice day to prepare to face the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. One way or another, we’re going to be talking about goaltending for a while.
The Canucks were 2-for-3 on the power play, making them 5-for-13 on their three-game winning streak. Since beginning their 8-3-0 run, Vancouver’s power play is eighth in the NHL, at 29 per cent. Its 82.1 per cent penalty-killing ranks sixth during that time.
THE JOSHUA TREAT
The Canucks’ least-conspicuous NHL signing on July 13 was free-agent depth forward Dakota Joshua, a 26-year-old from the Detroit area who had split last season between the St. Louis Blues and their American League farm team.
Overshadowed by the Canucks’ $19-million signing that day of Mikheyev and the repatriation of B.C. boy Curtis Lazar, Joshua was a six-foot-three centre that Vancouver general manager Patrik Allvin envisioned would be a robust fourth-line winger. Joshua signed a two-year, one-way contract for $825,000 per season, and the Canucks planned that he would earn it on their NHL team.
Two months into the regular season, Joshua has been a quiet success story amid the Canucks’ tumultuous season. Quiet, at least, until Wednesday when the power forward returned from a two-game injury absence, scored twice, fought once and came within a goal overturned on video review from getting his first NHL hat trick.
Joshua finished with a team-leading five shots on net, two goals and two hits in 11:54 of ice time. In 24 games, he has six goals, eight points and 55 hits while averaging 10:14 TOI. That’s excellent fourth-line production.