Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

I Watched This Game: Boeser's hat trick highlights incredible Canucks win in Game 4

The Vancouver Canucks scored three goals in four minutes for an incredible comeback win in overtime in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators.
The Vancouver Canucks pulled off a nearly-impossible comeback in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators.

It was a comeback so unbelievable that it would have been lambasted by movie critics if it appeared in a Disney sports movie. The Vancouver Canucks had no business beating the Nashville Predators in Game 4 but sometimes the Stanley Cup Playoffs aren’t business; they’re the Greatest Show on Earth.

It certainly seemed like curtains for the Canucks. It wasn’t just that they were down by two goals with just three minutes left in the game but that they had barely mounted any attempt at a comeback. 

After the Predators took a 3-1 lead just 12 seconds into the third period, the Canucks managed just three shots on goal in the following 17 minutes. 

“They outplayed us there for a heavy portion of the game,” said J.T. Miller. “I thought we had a good first period and then, after that, we just lost a lot of puck battles.”

But as the curtains closed on Game 4, Brock Boeser came rushing out onto the stage for one last soliloquy. The Canucks’ 40-goal scorer still had something to say: his second and third goals of the game to tie the game with eight seconds left, sending it improbably to overtime. 

Once in overtime, Elias Lindholm gave the game a storybook ending with the game-winning goal. Against all odds, the Canucks had scored three goals in four minutes to erase a two-goal deficit and win the game.

“We’ve showed a lot of ‘no quit’ on this team all year long,” said Miller. “To see Brock get rewarded there and the team get rewarded with the outcome, we feel really good.”

It was exactly what makes playoff hockey so fantastic: it can truly surprise you. The unexpected and unpredictable can happen at any moment and a certain loss can turn into a glorious victory in the span of just a few minutes.

That said, the Canucks would rather avoid a similarly stunning victory for the rest of this series. A safe and predictable win would be much easier on the heart.

“We’re going to enjoy the win, because that’s a big win for where we are in the series right now, but we know we have another gear,” Miller added, going on to say, “We just need to be a hell of a lot better than we were today.”

It’s the right attitude to take after a game like that: enjoy the catharsis of winning a game that, by all rights, should have been a loss but then diagnose what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again. Simply put, the Canucks weren’t good enough in this game. If not for some solid netminding and unreal heroics from Boeser, the Canucks would have been heading home tied 2-2 in the series.

“That three minutes won us the game,” said Rick Tocchet. “You’ve got to take the positives but we’ve got some work to do, obviously.”

There were so many ways that this game could and did go wrong for the Canucks, giving them a lot of things to work on but the biggest positive is that goaltending wasn’t one of them. The Canucks had to turn to their third-string goaltender, Arturs Silovs, but the big stage didn’t faze the young Latvian netminder. 

What was his reaction to finding out he was getting the start? 

“It was great: time to shine, you know?” said a grinning Silovs.

With his win, the Canucks became just the second team in NHL history to have three different goaltenders record a win in a playoff series. The first team do so was also the Canucks, who had Alex Auld, Johan Hedberg, and Dan Cloutier earn wins against the Calgary Flames in 2004.

“I couldn’t be happier for the guy, man,” said Miller. “Just to be thrown in to play against the Predators in the playoffs, right? That’s a super hard thing to do and he looks so calm — he really is — and he made some really timely saves to keep them at bay when they really were pushing today.”

I have to admit, unlike Silovs, I did not look so calm when I watched this game.

  • It was truly remarkable to see the Canucks send out their third goaltender in four games and get such a calm, poised performance from a rookie. Silovs didn’t have to be spectacular, with 27 saves on 30 shots, but he came up with some big saves and showed a sure hand with his glove to control rebounds. He was flashing more leather than the photographer for a BDSM catalogue.  
  • “Experience is, like, stacking up and then you learn what to do and what not to do,” said Silovs. “Then you realize what you can lean on: what you have to do and maybe you have to think less. That’s what I did: I just leaned on my technique, the things I do every single day in practice, and that’s it.”
  • The Canucks opened the scoring on a brilliant set play orchestrated by J.T. Miller, who won an offensive zone faceoff back to Carson Soucy and then sprinted to the right side of the ice. That drew across three Predators, while one more raced out to Ian Cole, who was winding up for a one-timer that never came, opening up the passing lane for Soucy to Miller. Meanwhile, Brock Boeser waited in the weeds like a camouflaged prey animal, holding completely still as every Predator moved away from him. Miller sent the cross-seam pass to Boeser and he beat the diving Juuse “Juicy Sorrows” Saros.
  • After back-to-back interference penalties for both teams, the Predators struck back on the ensuing 4-on-4, with the Canucks blowing their coverage thanks to the unusual situation. At 5-on-5, Elias Pettersson supporting Hughes in the corner as the first forward back would be the right play, as would Filip Hronek going to cover the front of the net. At 4-on-4, however, that left Jeremy Lauzon wide open at the point for a shot. To make matters worse, Hronek didn’t tie up Mark Jankowski’s stick, allowing him to tip the puck past Silovs.
  • To add insult to injury, Lauzon clotheslined an unsuspecting Pettersson on his way to the goal celebration, drilling him to the ice with no provocation. Somehow, that wasn’t deemed worthy of a penalty, sort of a “boys will be boys, they just scored a goal so let them have their fun” moment.
  • The Predators were looking to physically punish the Canucks’ stars all game, particularly Quinn Hughes, who got sandwiched later in the first period by Jason Zucker and Colton Sissons, crunching him like potato chips, which are way more enjoyable in sandwiches than you might think. Hughes definitely didn’t enjoy being a sandwich ingredient, however — he was hunched over and grimacing on the bench and missed two shifts.
  • “They’re running him and that’s playoff hockey,” said Tocchet. “We’ve got to help him out in certain situations and he’s got to put himself in better positions. But if we’re skating a little bit more quickly and winning some more battles, they’re not going to have as many chances to hit and that’ll help Huggy.”
  • The Canucks could have been down another defenceman if not for the invention of the visor by Franklin P. Visor in the late 19th century — that’s a Tru Fakt™, which is not to be confused with a true fact. Tyler Myers reached in to block a Tommy Novak shot, only for the puck to ramp up and hit him square in the visor, causing the visor to smack Myers in the nose, which is preferable to the puck doing that. 
  • The Predators took the lead in the second period on an odd-man rush. Ian Cole had jumped up the right side for a shot but no one covered for him at the point, so he and all three forwards were caught below the faceoff dots as the Predators gained control of the puck and counter-attacked. Ryan O’Reilly sprung Gustav Nyquist up ice and the winger ripped the puck over Silovs’ glove to make it 2-1. 
  • The Canucks nearly replied a few minutes later, as J.T. Miller neatly knocked down a pass on the forecheck for a chance in front. When he was knocked to the ice by Alexandre Carrier, Miller still had the presence of mind to set up Pius Suter from the seat of his pants, only for Suter to ring the puck off the crossbar. It was a seated pass worthy of high-level sledge hockey but to no avail.
  • 12 seconds into the third period, the Predators extended the lead to 3-1, seemingly putting the game on ice. Hronek stumbled at the blue line, allowing Roman Josi to burst up the left wing for a shot. Silovs made the initial save but Josi was able to pass the puck behind Silovs through the crease, where it was directed in by Filip Forsberg’s right skate, acting independently with no input from Forsberg himself. 
  • “I don’t think so,” said Tocchet when asked if he thought Forsberg kicked the puck in. “I think those type of goals have got to be allowed in the NHL, I think he redirected it. I understand it if it’s a huge kicking motion but I think they made the right call.”
  • Really, the game was on ice for the Canucks, but only in the sense of putting a severed body part so it can be saved and reattached later. The Canucks’ last-minute comeback was a medical marvel.
  • A comeback seemed impossible, to be honest. The Predators defended the lead like a Zach Snyder fan defending Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire: very aggressively. Unlike Game 2, where the Predators collapsed back into a defensive shell to block shots, the Predators pushed up ice and barely allowed any shots in the first place, with a similar result: the Canucks had just three shots on goal at 5-on-5 in the third period.
  • When the Canucks pulled Arturs Silovs, everything changed. With the extra attacker on the ice, the Canucks controlled play in the offensive zone, with Quinn Hughes setting up J.T. Miller at the top of the left faceoff circle. As he faked a shot, two Predators pushed out to take away the lane, which left Elias Lindholm open down low for Miller’s pass. Lindholm relayed the puck to Boeser at the backdoor and the sniper scored his second of the game with a preternatural calm.
  • “[Boeser] just knows how to score goals, I’ll tell you that,” said Miller. “He goes to the scoring areas and he doesn’t get a whole lot of goals outside the grade-A spots. He goes to the net, he knows where to be, he’s got the second stick a lot of the time, and he’s got a knack for that.”
  • Colton Sissons had the game on his stick with 1:50 left in regulation. All he had to do was hit the empty net, with Silovs once again pulled for the extra attacker. With Quinn Hughes tracking him and Elias Pettersson pressuring on the backcheck, he couldn’t pull the puck to his forehand, so hoisted the puck toward the net on the backhand only to hit the post. Again, if this was a movie script, the producer would send it back with copious notes about it being unrealistic.
  • The Predators bench erupted in cheers as Sissons shot the puck, certain that he had scored to secure the win. As everyone else pretended they were just raising their arms to scratch their noses or adjust their helmets, Cole Smith still stood exultantly with his arms upraised, confused as to why no one was celebrating with him.
  • At that point, a comeback no longer seemed impossible but still seemed nigh-impossible, like how Superman isn’t quite invulnerable but is nigh-invulnerable. Apparently, the Canucks came to Nashville with pockets full of kryptonite.
  • With 15 seconds left in regulation, Quinn Hughes made a quintessential Quinn Hughes move, deking out Gustav Nyquist so badly that Nyquist when spinning to the ice. That created a 6-on-4 situation and the Canucks took advantage. Miller got a shot through traffic to the net and Boeser pounced on the rebound, putting his first chance off the side of the net before calmly collecting the puck and tucking it inside the post before not-so-calmly celebrating his miraculous game-tying hattrick goal with 8 seconds left in regulation.
  • “A goalscorer knows,” said Tocchet. “They know the right time to shoot it. Sometimes guys will just jam it — you see that goal, he didn’t jam it. He waited, brought it back. I don’t know how many seconds were left but that’s Boes, he’s got a really good hockey IQ to score goals. His timing is really, really good.”
  • Soak it in: this is a defining moment in Canucks history. It’s akin to Game 7 against the Calgary Flames in 2004 when Jarome Iginla missed the empty net and Markus Naslund went end-to-end to set up Matt Cooke’s tying goal to send the game to overtime. That is an all-time great Canucks moment even though they went on to lose that game; how much better was this moment considering the Canucks went on to win.
  • Maybe the Predators were rattled by giving up the two late goals because all of their tightly-structured defence went out the window in overtime, as they abandoned the middle of the ice like Daniel Plainview abandoned his child. A minute into the extra frame, Ian Cole pinched down the boards to keep the puck alive and Lindholm stepped out to the point as if he was going to cover for Cole. As Filip Forsberg moved to cover the point, Lindholm quietly drifted into the slot instead, where Conor Garland found him for the game-winning goal.
  • "It was a nice pass, so I just kinda put it in," said Lindholm. "Obviously, when you score one of those, an OT winner, it's always a good feeling."
  • Look, there’s no way to put this game into words. I tried but this was one of the wildest comebacks I have ever seen in any sport. It took two goals and a post with an empty net in the span of three minutes to get this game to overtime. It shouldn’t have happened. But it did.
  • Three wins down; 13 to go.