Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

I Watched This Game: Oh my goodness, the Canucks actually won a game

The Vancouver Canucks held on for a 5-4 win over the Seattle Kraken for their first win of the season.
The Vancouver Canucks, against all odds, have won a game. They managed a 5-4 win over the Seattle Kraken on Thursday night. graphic: Dan Toulgoet and Freepik

Bruce Boudreau has 600 career wins as an NHL head coach.

It took just a little bit longer to get that 600th win than anyone thought it would, since he started the season with 599 career wins, but it finally happened. In the eighth game of the season, the Vancouver Canucks got their first win, taking down the Seattle Kraken 5-4. 

Of course, it was just the Kraken, a team that has yet to beat the Canucks in their entire franchise history, even if that history is just one season.

Doesn’t matter, still won.

The Kraken out-shot the Canucks 36-to-19 and shot attempts were 54-to-28 for the Kraken at 5-on-5.

Doesn’t matter, still won.

Thatcher Demko had an .888 save percentage, giving up 4 goals on 36 shots — the first was an absolute stinker that had no business going in on any NHL goaltender, let alone one hoping to be considered one of the league’s elite.

Doesn’t matter, still won. 

It took a fluke empty-net goal from the defensive zone to extend the lead in the final minutes or the Kraken would have tied it up when they scored with 30 seconds left.

Doesn’t matter, still won.

J.T. Miller appeared to get hurt in the final seconds blocking a shot off his left ankle and had to be helped off the ice.

Doesn’t matter, still won.

Look, it wasn’t a pretty win. The Canucks were not particularly good and they got pretty soundly out-played by the Kraken. They gave up leads in the first and second periods and came awfully close to giving up the lead again in the third period. Heck, the Canucks got out-scored at 5-on-5.

And then there’s Miller. Thankfully, Miller is probably okay — he talked to the media after the game and seemed in good spirits. Hopefully, that’s not just the adrenaline. The last thing the Canucks need is yet another injury.  

But we shouldn’t dwell on the negatives. No, we musn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning Day Canucks win a game day! 

I didn’t dwell when I watched this game.

  • To be fair to the Canucks, the Kraken out-shoot all sorts of teams. They’ve got the fourth-best corsi percentage in the NHL in this young season. Their problem is they can’t buy a save. Their two goaltenders have combined for an .855 save percentage this season, shockingly not the worst in the NHL this season — thanks New Jersey Devils! If the Kraken could get a goaltender, they might actually be pretty good.
  • Full credit to the Canucks for finally gutting out a third period too. You generally don’t want to be out-shot 14-to-3 in the third period, but they weren’t that bad defensively. Just one of the Kraken’s 14 shots in the third period was from within 10 feet — the goal with 30 seconds left when the Kraken were 6-on-4 with a power play and their goaltender pulled for the extra attacker.
  • The Canucks were fightin’ mad in this one — you could tell on account of all the fightin’. Two-and-a-half minutes in, Tanner Pearson dropped the gloves with Adam Larsson after a hit on Sheldon Dries, then J.T. Miller took on Carson Soucy a minute later. If that wasn’t enough, Bo Horvat tried to fight Vince Dunn less than a minute after that, but Dunn, with two Kraken defencemen already in the box, declined. 
  • Apparently, the Canucks’ gameplan was to fight every single Kraken defenceman, thereby leaving the goaltender literally defenceless. Oh ho ho, delightfully devilish.
  • The “plan” worked. While both Larsson and Soucy were in the penalty box, the Canucks struck first. It was a weird play — Luke Schenn threw the puck toward the net, where Kraken goaltender Martin Jones tried to punch it away with his blocker and missed. The puck instead hit Justin Schultz’s stick and went to the front of the net, where Ilya “Mix Master” Mikheyev cut faster to the puck than anyone else and got down with no delay.
  • Elias Pettersson once again had a great game and his line with Mikheyev and Andrei Kuzmenko was the Canucks’ best. Pettersson’s two-way play continues to shine — even when he got beat to the outside by Matty Beniers, Pettersson made a tremendous play to get his stick around the Kraken star and lift his stick to prevent the grade-A scoring chance.
  • The Canucks have a tendency to get unraveled in a hurry like a sweater owned by Rivers Cuomo. In the final two minutes of the first period, the Kraken held this thread and the Canucks walked away. First, Jamie Oleksiak tied the game on an awful goal — his shot from the point was actually heading wide, but Demko over-extended himself like Taika Waititi and the puck went off the inside of his skate and in.
  • Less than a minute later, Jared McCann made it 2-1. J.T. Miller got caught puck-watching in the neutral zone as McCann whipped past him and Guillaume Brisebois didn’t spot the danger, tracking his man, Yanni Gourde, into the middle of the ice as he tipped a pass through to McCann for a breakaway. Demko got a piece of McCann’s shot with his glove but the puck don’t stop ‘til you get enough.
  • The difference in this game was special teams, with the power play coming through with two goals in the second period. The second unit got a little lucky — Connor Garland’s cross-ice pass was picked off by Karson “Please Don’t Have a Middle Name that Starts with a K” Kuhlman, but he lost it in his skates. Sheldon Dries poked the puck free to Mikheyev who fired a quick shot five-hole on Jones for his second goal of the game.
  • The first unit got the lead back later in the second. Jack Rathbone got a little too adventurous jumping up in the zone and turned the puck over, but Elias Pettersson deftly kept the puck in at the point and flicked it cross-ice to Miller, who spotted Kuzmenko open at the backdoor for the tap-in goal.
  • The regained lead was incredibly short-lived. 15 seconds later, the Kraken tied the game 3-3. There’s blame to share: Guillaume Brisebois tried an ill-timed pinch down the boards and couldn’t keep the puck in; Vasily Podkolzin didn’t adequately cover for him; Nils Åman didn’t stick with Beniers as he burst up the ice; and Luke Schenn was too aggressive on the puck-carrier, not recognizing the danger of Beniers. Jaden Schwartz slipped the puck past Schenn and Beniers had a breakaway. Beniers, unlike several Canucks on the play, made no mistake.
  • Third periods have been the Canucks’ kryptonite this season, but Elias Pettersson got the final frame started right with the 4-3 goal a minute in, batting in a bouncing puck like a cricket batsman after Schenn bowled it towards the net for a boundary 6.  
  • Mikheyev should’ve had the hat trick midway through the third period, as Pettersson and Kuzmenko combined in transition to gift Mikheyev an open net, but Mikheyev whiffed on Kuzmenko’s pass and the puck skittered between Mikheyev’s feet like a terrified cockroach. 
  • Mikheyev couldn’t finish from five feet away but Garland, fortunately, could finish from 139 feet away. With Jones pulled for the extra attacker, Garland picked off a Beniers pass and hoisted a backhand that took a friendly bounce and rolled into the open net to make it 5-3.
  • The Canucks couldn’t just comfortably close out the game, of course. Tyler Myers took a cross-checking penalty with a minute remaining. Bo Horvat won the opening faceoff on the penalty kill — he went 22-for-30 in the game — but the Canucks couldn’t clear and the Kraken were able to set up a chance. Jordan Eberle nearly tipped in the puck but instead went through the crease, where Schwartz caught it, dropped it to his stick, and swatted it in before Oliver Ekman-Larsson could get to him.
  • But surely the Canucks couldn’t give up yet another goal to tie the game with just 30 seconds left in the game, right? Right! They didn’t! But it did mean that J.T. Miller took a shot off the left ankle that probably hurt worse than the worst stubbed toe you have ever had in your life. Maybe if the Canucks didn’t get out-shot 14-to-3 in the third period, they wouldn’t have to block so many shots. Just a thought.
  • The Canucks won a game! Holy smokes! Bring out the best robe and put it on the Canucks. Put rings on their fingers and sandals on their feet. Kill the fatted calf and let us feast and celebrate, for this team was dead and is alive again! It was lost and is now found!