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I Watched This Game: Beau beats Bo in first post-trade game between Canucks and Islanders

Anthony Beauvillier scored the game-winning goal for the Canucks against his former Islanders teammates.
The Vancouver Canucks prevailed over Bo Horvat's New York Islanders in their first meeting since he was traded. graphic: Dan Toulgoet and Freepik

Seeing the Vancouver Canucks play against Bo Horvat is weird and confusing and not just to fans.

According to one fan who was watching the game via the New York Islanders broadcast, Bo Horvat was asked during a second intermission interview about his former team and he said, “We…” before correcting himself and saying, “They work hard and don’t give up.”

On the ice, at least, there was no confusion. It wasn’t the least bit surprising when Horvat scored a goal for the Islanders. And, when that goal was overturned for goaltender interference, it wasn’t surprising that he scored another later in the same period. 

Of course, Horvat was going to score on the Canucks. That was never in doubt. But what might have been lost in all the fuss and bother over Horvat’s first game against the Canucks was that it was the first game against his former team for another Beau.

Late in the third period, Anthony Beauvillier threw down the UNO reverse card and scored his first-ever goal against the Islanders, which stood up as the game-winner. It just goes to show that there’s something more powerful than a player facing his former team for the first time: a player facing his former team in his former arena. 

For those on Team Tank who want the Canucks to lose as many games as possible down the stretch, they can at least take some solace in the fact that this was the best game to win on their road trip. If you’re going to win a game while tanking, make it a game against the team whose first-round draft pick you own and who are not yet a lock to make the playoffs. 

The Canucks kept the Islanders out of the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference when I watched this game.

  • It seems like a bad thing that Luke Schenn missed this game after getting injured last game against the New York Rangers. A healthy Schenn might get traded for as much as a late first-round draft pick. An injured Schenn might stay on the Canucks roster and get re-signed to a foolish contract.
  • The Canucks had the better chances early in the first period before Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring — and the floodgates — with a goal against the flow of play. Palmieri took a tipped pass over the blue line, then cut back on the formerly-mobile Oliver Ekman-Larsson to create some space and ripped a wrist shot off the post and in.
  • Ekman-Larsson exacted a small measure of revenge less than a minute later when he made like Christian Grey and got the score all tied up. His point shot somehow fooled Ilya Sorokin with Beauvillier providing the screen and the puck knuckled in off Sorokin’s glove. That ended Sorokin’s shutout streak at 143 minutes and 54 seconds.
  • The Canucks took the lead on their very next shot. J.T. Miller drew a double team on the right boards and created some space with a couple of quick cutbacks before sliding the puck inside to Brock Boeser, whose one-timer snuck under Sorokin’s outstretched skate. It was a brilliant piece of playmaking by Miller and a proof-of-concept for Boeser potentially taking Horvat’s former spot in the bumper on the power play.
  • The Islanders responded immediately, making it four-straight goals on four-straight shots in less than four minutes as suddenly neither Delia nor Sorokin could make a save. Brock Nelson stole the puck from Kyle Burroughs, who was in the game for the injured Schenn, and counter-attacked with a 2-on-1. Nelson, who won the Accuracy Shooting event at the All-Star Game, kept the puck and sniped it under Delia’s glove.
  • The game calmed down for a bit but picked back up early in the second period after a bit of a soft interference penalty on Conor Garland. The Canucks essentially gave up two goals on the subsequent Islanders power play but it still counted as a successful penalty kill. 
  • It started with a classic Horvat power play goal, as he neatly tipped in a Noah Dobson point shot that was really more of a hard pass. The Canucks, however, took a hard pass on letting that goal stand, challenging it for goaltender interference, with Anders Lee getting all up in Delia’s business in front of the net. The goal was overturned, much to the dismay of everyone who laid a wager on Horvat hitting the over on 0.5 goals.
  • The Islanders' power play scored for real shortly after, with Mathew Barzal blasting a one-timer into the upper deck. Only the timekeeper allowed another second to tick off the clock after the puck went in, so the goal technically came one second after Garland’s penalty ended. Penalty successfully killed! Good job, everyone.
  • Horvat got his actual first goal against the Canucks later in the second period thanks to some questionable defending by Burroughs. He was engaged with Horvat in front of the net but, when Barzal got a step on Beauvillier, Burroughs left Horvat alone to cut off Barzal’s path to the net, which is something you’d think Burroughs would know not to do. As The Spleen would say, “Big mistake!” Horvat rifled the pass from Barzal off the post and in to make it 4-2.
  • The Canucks were not going to go gentle into that good night and the fourth line chipped in a goal to pull within one before the end of the period. Phil di Giuseppe picked up the puck down low after Dakota Joshua won a battle along the boards and went for a hard wraparound. Sorokin made the save, but Nils Åman was left alone to jump on the rebound and snap it home like a dancer in West Side Story.  
  • It was a great game all around from the fourth line, which mainly featured Curtis Lazar with Di Giuseppe and Åman. The Canucks out-shot the Islanders 11-to-3 when Di Giuseppe and Åman were on the ice and they led the Canucks in corsi percentage. Åman nearly had a goal earlier in the second period on another Di Giuseppe rebound but Sorokin slammed the door.
  • “I thought Di Giuseppe was great. I think he had seven shots, he was very good tonight,” said Tocchet. Di Giuseppe did, indeed, lead the Canucks with seven shots on goal in just 12:34 in ice time. According to Natural Stat Trick, all eight of his shot attempts were classified as scoring chances. That’s a damn good night for the Pizza Man.
  • Much like the Rangers on Wednesday night, the Islanders penalty kill played a tight man-to-man defence on Pettersson on the Canucks power play, giving him no space to handle or shoot the puck. The Canucks adjusted with more heavy rotation than a Taylor Swift single. Quinn Hughes moved to the left sideboards like Christian Ehrhoff, leaving the point open for a forward instead. 
  • The adjustment paid off with the tying goal. Pettersson moved to the point and unleashed his hardest shot in the NHL, blasting a pass from Hughes past Sorokin through traffic with Miller screening in front. 
  • Pettersson then gave the Canucks the lead. Ethan Bear sent a long stretch pass ahead to Boeser, who made a neat backhand pass into space for Pettersson to skate onto down the right wing. Pettersson snapped the puck under Sorokin’s glove on the short side and Boeser laughed in delight like he was El Risitas.  
  • On a late power play, it was Boeser’s turn to rotate to the point. He took a pass from Hughes and fired a wrist shot that Beauvillier tipped under Sorokin’s glove to make it 6-4. Beauvillier celebrated the goal with a very distinct, “Woo-hoo!” like he was Damon Albarn taking the piss out of grunge.
  • That was Boeser’s fourth point of the night. He’s been quietly playing well but failing to find the scoresheet in recent games, so, like Andy Dufresne, he was due to break out. 
  • The Islanders nearly mounted a last-minute comeback to push the game to overtime, which would have been the worst-case scenario for those who want the Canucks to get high draft picks. On the power play and with their own net empty to go 6-on-4, Dobson fired a point shot that appeared to deflect off Lee’s leg in front to make it 6-5 with 48 seconds left. But that’s as close as the Islanders would get, with J.T. Miller getting blocky like Steve with two blocked shots in the final seconds to close out the win. 
  • Just like against the Rangers, Andrei Kuzmenko was benched for much of the game, playing just four shifts in each of the second and third periods. He finished with 12:17 in ice time, with only Sheldon Dries playing less at 5-on-5, and lost his spot on the first power play unit to Boeser. 
  • For all the talk of Tocchet limiting the ice time of his top players, Pettersson played 23:48 in this game and Miller played 22:54. Both had great games, though Pettersson led the way with a three-point night and added three hits and two blocked shots away from the puck. Rick Tocchet was highly complimentary of his star centre after the game.
  • “I talked to Petey — you don’t have to be the loudest guy but if you do it on the ice, that’s loud right there. To me, that’s being loud,” said Tocchet. “Showing your teammates, I’m willing to do whatever. He had two goals tonight too, PK, power play — he led tonight. That’s what leaders do.”