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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Lightning 3 (OT)

It's hard to get too disappointed about another OTL. That's sorta Vancouver's thing these days.

It's hard to get too disappointed about another OTL. That's sorta Vancouver's thing these days. If you don't like the loser point, dare I say, you don't like the Vancouver Canucks, who have cornered the market on it, like that dude that hoards all the sheep in Settlers of Catan. Now all the Canucks need to do is build a settlement on a 2-for-1 port, and they'll be able to convert their plenitude of OTLs to all sorts of things: rock, wheat, a high draft pick, you name it.

Plus, apart from how it ended, it's tough to find much to complain about in that overtime. It was fast-paced, and full of glorious chances -- most of them Vancouver's. Why, I'd go so far as to say tonight's bout of 3-on-3 overtime was far, far, far more interesting than Sean Penn's one-on-one interview with El Chapo, and honestly, who would have expected any part of that sentence? And, like the feds who were watching El Chapo for when he accidentally slipped up and granted a one-on-one Rolling Stone interview conducted by Sean Penn (as druglords are wont to do), I watched this game.

  • Speaking of questions, there were a lot of them surrounding Jake Virtanen in his return to the Canucks' lineup after a disastrous World Juniors. But the 19-year-old had a great night. He didn't score, and he registered just one shot on goal, but he was flying all over the ice, tilting the ice Vancouver's way, dishing out hits, and making things happen. Virtanen played the whole night as though he realized the Emerson Etem trade was the writing on the wall for him this season unless he found his game in a hurry. And he did find his game. Turns out it's hockey. In Finland, one wasn't so sure.
  • While Virtanen had a promising evening, though, this game belonged, much like the last one, to Bo Horvat and friends. Now that Horvat's remembered how to score, he keeps doing it. The Canucks' number two centre had a goal and an assist in this game, giving him 4 goals and 5 points in his last three games. It's amazing what the Christmas break can do for a player. Just further proof that sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is listen to Mariah Carey's Baby Please Come Home. And here you thought it was an overplayed bowl of dookie stew. False. That's Wonderful Christmas Time.
  • The Lightning scored first in this game, after Alex Edler got caught in the neutral zone, allowing Tampa Bay to break in on Adam Cracknell and Yannick Weber. Cracknell played it about as well as you'd expect, waving the Lightning past him like a third-base coach, and Weber -- well, he's no Chris Tanev, which was probably the most distressing thing for Edler when he checked to see who was backing him up in that moment. Chris Tanev would have saved the day, because that's what he does. Weber somehow ended up behind Jacob Markstrom. Unsurprisingly, with defence like that, so did the puck.
  • The Canucks got it back, though. Later in the first, Horvat and Sven Baertschi hooked up for a brilliant powerplay goal, with Horvat turning his man inside out like the boy who swung over the bar before feeding Baertschi for the finish. The goal was Baertschi's fifth in his last seven games. He's on a tear, just like Bo. The two are shining brighter than diamonds all of a sudden. They're a hot line, they are blinging, and that can only mean one thing: the Canucks have a second line right now.
  • After the Lightning took a late lead, Horvat responded again. After a great rush by Ben Hutton to gain the Tampa zone, the rookie d-man fed Bo, then headed to the net hoping for a return pass to tip. There was no need, however. Horvat skipped that step, firing a shot low blocker and putting it inside the post, like an embedded tweet.
  • I'm sure we'll talk more about it ALL FLIPPING WEEK, but Elliotte Friedman sure stirred the pot during the intermission, mentioning the Canucks as a potential landing spot for Steven Stamkos, should the superstar centre make it to free agency this summer. Granted, he said it during a Hockey Night in Canada telecast featuring the two teams, so it probably had more to do with who was watching than what's actually going to happen, but it's fun to think about: imagine stealing that moment from Toronto. Just imagine how good that would feel.
  • Derek Dorsett played 17:41 tonight. Among forwards, only Daniel and Henrik played more. But that makes sense. Dorsett is Vancouver's third forward. Granted, that doesn't make sense.
  • With Jannik Hansen unavailable due to injury, Alex Burrows skated with the Sedins tonight. I didn't like it. It's amazing how quickly things change. Earlier this year, Burrows with the Sedins was the obvious chioce for many. But a few months of Jannik Hansen in his stead, and now Burrows looks like a poor fit for the twins. Part of that is Burrows' loss of footspeed -- Hansen is simply better at getting to loose pucks, and delivering them to the twins. But I don't think it's Burrows failing so much as Hansen's success. He's been so good in that role, it looks weird to see anybody else there. Like when they replaced Aunt Viv.