Ben Kuzma: Willingness to Succeed has Canucks ’emotional soldiers’ on the verge of winning war with Wild


“I love that he really integrated other parts of the game – puck recovery, wall battles, forward control and going to the net. You want to score this time of year, you can’t just wait for a shot. Sometimes you salt your nose and find a way to score and he did. – Travis Green on Brock Boeser

It takes an army to win the war and inspiration to find additional motivation.

The Vancouver Canucks won on many fronts Thursday afternoon.

They are one win away from qualifying for the post-season NHL playoff game because their last six forwards were as good as their first six. In a decisive 3-0 shutout against the Minnesota Wild to climb 2-1 in the best-five qualifying round series, the Canucks have found another level in their game.

They may have to find another Friday to close it.

As much as the emerging young core made a statement in Game 3 with goals from Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson accompanied by an impressive three-pass effort from Calder Trophy finalist Quinn Hughes, the Wild won’t go quietly overnight. in Game 4., which starts at 7.45 p.m.

Kevin Fiala will continue to be a goal threat – he made four shots and 14 attempts on Thursday – and will be a constant devastation. It will be imperative not to take his combative bait or spit out a multi-goal lead and allow the Wild to go into stop mode.

“It’s inch by inch and everyone is sticking together,” said goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who recorded his first NHL shutout after the season with 27 saves and ignored a third period push by Fiala. “After the whistles, it was pretty hot. We have done a great job and we must continue to do so without taking penalties.

“We have to tackle each other again and we have to do our best to have a chance.”

Jacob Markstrom tries to cover the puck as Alex Galchenyuk and Luke Kunin of Minnesota Wild try to score in the second period of Game 3 on Thursday.

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The Canucks have gone 4-2 in consecutive games this season and Markstrom have gone 3-0. However, in a season cut short on March 12 by the novel coronavirus pandemic, those victories seem so far away and the Canucks know they have to live in the moment. They did it on Thursday.

Boeser and Pettersson hit on the power play and Antoine Roussel scored an inspiring breakaway goal. However, Tyler Myers took three minor penalties and has six in the series. Again, the Canucks drew on the power play and had 22 blocked shots, including seven by Tyler Motte.

If that wasn’t enough, Brandon Sutter had three scoring chances and Jay Beagle nearly converted a wraparound attempt as the duo came back. Boeser also looked to the anniversary of the loss of his close friend and baseball teammate Ty Alyea in a tragic car crash for further determination.

The healthy, fit, focused and reliable right winger has become a dangerous presence down-low and scores bold goals – rather than camping on the perimeter and shooting from long distance.

“Our will to win was strong today,” said Boeser.

This has not gone unnoticed. The book on Boeser is that he has to use speed and instinctively use a quick and precise release to pick the corners. Now it also arrives in dirty areas and holds on. His diving effort to correct a power-play rebound on a one-timer Pettersson and then the home backhand for a goal was impressive. It was also his game away from the puck.

“I love that he’s really hooked up with other parts of the game – puck recovery, wall battles, forward checking and net access,” the coach marveled. of the Canucks, Travis Green. ” You want to mark this time of year, you can’t just wait for a shot. Sometimes you get your nose dirty and find a way to score and he did.

Brock Boeser celebrates his goal on Thursday with teammates Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat.

Perry Nelson /


Boeser did it with a heavy heart and pointed to the sky when he opened the scoring on Thursday.

Six years ago to the day, Alyea was in a car accident while another passenger was seriously injured. At the time, Boeser was at the Hlinka tournament and received the horrible phone call. He wears the No. 6 to honor his late friend.

“Obviously a tough day for me and my friends,” Boeser said. “Being able to get one for him is something special. A day full of emotions and I tried to make the most of it on the ice. I know my friends are all hanging out today and being together. ”

Inspiration also came from Roussel in Game 3.

Sporting a significant minnow to his left eye after being cornered by a deflected puck in Game 2, the spirited winger once again pulled the Canucks into the fight.

He was penalized for running goaltender Alex Stalock behind the next in the first half to get in the lead. He then jumped on an exit signal from Hughes, sped up on a breakaway and went backhand early in the third period to give the Canucks a two-goal cushion.

Antoine Roussel scores on Wild goalie Alex Stalock to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

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“It’s great – scoring in the playoffs is what you live for and what you train for,” Roussel said. “We played hard. We blocked shots and the guys almost put their lives on the line and it got everyone on fire and it transcends programming.

“We have good players with good experience and everyone contributes to it.”

Especially post-season beginners.

Roussel has told the club’s young core not to worry and to cherish the second season. They listened and executed.

“I believe that when you’re young sometimes you don’t know how well you’re playing and what that means to everyone,” Roussel said. “Sometimes you can’t quantify that and as you get older, you see.

“It’s that naivety. They are not afraid of anything and I will fight with these guys any day.

And that’s exactly what Green expects from Roussel and the rest of the roster as the Canucks look to take out the Wild on Friday. It won’t be easy.

“He cares and wants to win badly,” Green said of Roussel. “You’re happy when you see guys like that score – especially in great times. The only thing about him, if he plays five, 10, or 15 minutes he always brings that energy and he’s an emotional guy who plays with a big heart and is borderline a lot.

“That’s what you love about him.”

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