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I Watched This Game: Brisebois scores first NHL goal as Canucks exhaust the Stars

Eight years after the Vancouver Canucks drafted him, Guillaume Brisebois finally scored his first career NHL goal.
The Vancouver Canucks won their fifth-straight game on Wednesday, beating the Dallas Stars 5-2, which did wonders for their self-esteem but was less good for tanking the season for a high draft pick.

Eight years.

That’s how long ago Guillaume Brisebois was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, selected in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That’s the same draft that gave the NHL Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner, and Mikko Rantanen. That’s the draft where the Canucks selected Brock Boeser 23rd overall in the first round.

On the same night Boeser recorded his 300th career point, Guillaume Brisebois finally scored his first NHL goal.

It is unusual for a player to stay with the same team that drafted them for eight years while only playing a handful of NHL games. Heading into the 2022-23 season, Brisebois had played just ten NHL games for the Canucks and just two in the last three seasons.

But Brisebois kept plugging away in the AHL. It says something about who Brisebois is as a person that the Canucks keep offering him NHL contracts even as he has barely played any NHL games. Just one week ago, Brisebois signed another contract, this time a two-year deal that is one-way in the second year, finally giving him a full season of an NHL salary for the first time in his career.

“They stuck with me and I think I stuck with them as well,” said Brisebois after the game. “I really try to work hard to try to prove them right. I want to prove to them that they made the right decision by signing me.”

When Brisebois capitalized on a pass from Nils Åman, his teammates erupted, delighted to see him finally score. When a guy puts in the time to toil in the minors for your team, you want to see him succeed.

“It means a lot when your teammates are almost as happy as you or even more happy than you,” said Brisebois. “The guys have been great with me since the beginning since I’ve been here. They’ve been amazing, they’ve helped me a lot, especially my D partner, [Tyler Myers], and everyone on the D corps, they’ve been great.”

For scoring his first goal, Brisebois was even named the first star of the game, coming out onto the ice beaming with a wide smile to salute the fans.

“I’m not used to it,” said Brisebois with a laugh when asked about the first-star treatment. “It was a special moment, obviously, but I think the win is much more important.”

Agree to disagree. The win may have been the Canucks’ fifth win in a row, but that’s not exactly a good thing right now, only serving to worsen the team’s draft position. Brisebois getting his first-career goal was far more important.

You could tell how chuffed his teammates were with his long-awaited first goal. As photographer Jeff Vinnick was taking photos of Brisebois with the puck from his first goal, Kyle Burroughs and Thatcher Demko rushed in to join the photo, embracing Brisebois with goofy grins. We’ll have to wait and see if that one hits the Canucks’ social media channels or not.

It was a great moment for Brisebois, the culmination of eight years of effort since he was drafted and many more years before that of dreaming of making the NHL. But for Brisebois, he sees it as just the beginning.

“I'm really happy about it, but I'm not satisfied with it,” he said. “I think I have to build on that and I think that's gonna build a little bit of confidence but I’ve still gotta play really hard and prove myself every day.”

Happy but not satisfied, eh? Well, I’ve got half of that covered. I watched this game.

  • Speaking of guys toiling in the minors, Phil di Giuseppe opened the scoring. Brock Boeser rang the post and the Stars had a chance to clear, but Max Domi inexplicably kept the puck in and gave it right back to Boeser. He laid it off to J.T. Miller, who spotted Di Giuseppe, left all alone by Ryan Suter, who was too busy making sure the empty space in the slot didn’t get a good scoring chance. To Suter’s credit, the empty space didn’t score but Di Giuseppe did, neatly angling the puck in on the backhand.
  • The Dallas Stars had Matt Murray in net but not the same Matt Murray that was in net for the Toronto Maple Leafs ten days ago. Yes, there are two Matt Murrays in the NHL and they’re both goaltenders, though this was only the second NHL game for this latter Matt Murray. You’d think this second Matt Murray might go by “Matthew” instead, but when asked, he probably said, “No way! Why should I change, he’s the one who sucks.”
  • I am sad that Jani Hakanpää’s first-period penalty was for interference and not slashing a Canuck in the hand, because then I can’t say, “Hakanpää hacked a paw,” except via a meta framing device.
  • On the power play, the Canucks threaded together some gorgeous passes like beads on a friendship bracelet. Does that simile make sense if you think about it too long? No, but neither does this Canucks team suddenly playing like world-beaters as soon as the playoff are out of the question. Boeser sent a one-touch, cross-seam pass to Conor Garland, who faked a shot to freeze Murray before finding Andrei Kuzmenko all alone at the backdoor for a wide-open net to make it 2-0.
  • Elias Pettersson is an honest man. At one point, he was hit in the skate by Max Domi and stumbled to the ice, but quickly popped back up and signaled to the referee that he didn’t think it was a penalty, saying, “No, no.” The referee disagreed and gave the Canucks the power play anyway. 
  • Noah Juulsen delivered the hit of the game, rocking Luke Glendening with a big, clean, open-ice shoulder check. Juulsen may have the heaviest feet on the team, but the rest of him is pretty heavy too and that was a perfectly-executed hit. So, of course, he was immediately challenged to a pointless fight by Radek Faksa. At least the refs got it right and gave Faksa an extra two-minute minor.
  • The Stars fought back in the second period, starting with a goal off the rush that took advantage of a forward, Dakota Joshua, defending an odd-man rush. Joshua stopped up to try a pokecheck instead of backing into the zone, which left Wyatt Johnston open for a superb pass by Jamie Benn, which is surprising because Benn usually doesn’t help his partners finish.  
  • Anthony Beauvillier restored the two-goal lead with a well-placed tip on a shot by Christian Wolanin. One key to the play was Pettersson’s clever bank pass off the boards to Wolanin while absorbing a check, giving Wolanin space to get the shot off in the first place. Beauvillier’s deflection, like “Visit the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art,” was a Nice tip.
  • Pettersson nearly added to his league-leading shorthanded point total on a rush late in the second period, but Murray turned aside his slap shot. The Stars countered and Benn took advantage of Brisebois’s overly-generous gap to rifle a power play goal past Demko’s blocker with 4.1 seconds remaining in the period. 
  • Brisebois made up for it in the third period with his goal that came via some lovely passing. Dakota Joshua made a bank pass off the boards between his own legs to spring the rush, then Conor Garland gained the offensive zone and slipped a backhand pass to Nils Åman on the inside. Åman patiently protected the puck, then found Brisebois trailing the play with a perfectly-weighted backhand pass that Brisebois couldn’t help but hammer into the back of the net.
  • “It felt great. I can’t really put words into it, it just happened so quickly,” said Brisebois. “Now I can reflect on it and I’m pretty happy. The guys made an unbelievable play on the sequence, so I’m really grateful for that.”
  • “It was just such a smart play by [Brisebois],” said Boeser, then added with a twinkle in his eye, “That was a cannon.”
  • In the third period, the Stars looked like a team playing their second game on back-to-back nights and third game in four nights for some reason. That reason is because that's what they were doing. 
  • Pettersson nearly had another shorthanded point in the third period, setting up Åman on a 2-on-1. Pettersson, like a boy trying to hit on a girl in the 19th century, telegraphed the pass, so Murray was able to anticipate and lunge across to rob the Åmanian one.
  • Boeser picked up his third assist of the night with some patience and puck protection. He drove up the left wing to gain the offensive zone, then pulled up along the boards to create some space as he waited for help. Like the worst house party ever, no one picked up Miller — he was completely unmarked as he entered the zone, took Boeser’s pass off his skate, and sent the puck rocketing bar down with a tremendous shot. 
  • “Obviously, I want to score more goals but when you’re not scoring, you’ve got to do other stuff out there,” said Boeser about his three-assist night. “I’m a guy that needs to produce for our team, so I’m just trying to make anything happen.”
  • Fun fact: Brock Boeser is third on the Canucks in 5-on-5 points, behind only Pettersson and Kuzmenko. Just a fun little factoid to keep in your back pocket.