It was Wednesday in the second period of Game 5 against Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, who appeared to have taken the game and the playoffs to get caught by the early Canucks.
Getting played poorly, leading and trailing 3-1 – and not more just because Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom was sensational – the Canucks jumped and scored three times in 6.5 minutes, then defended their lead during the last period to win 4-3.
They have a 3-2 lead in the series on their first playoff adventure since 2015 and can knock out the National Hockey League’s top team on Friday last season.
But they may have to do it without Supreme Defender Alex Edler, who did not finish Wednesday’s game after suffering a frightening cut to the right side of his face at the end of the second period, a shift. after quick checker Tyler Motte gave the green light. goal in the night of his life.
Without Edler and first-four defenseman Tyler Myers, injured in Game 2, the Canucks held the Blues down to nine shots in the third period and Markstrom saved them all.
A game like this enters the memory bank, instantly becomes a benchmark for the Canucks, something to fall back on the next time they lose two goals and get beaten. Yes, they can – even against the Stanley Cup champions.
“Honestly, I think it was about to get out of hand,” Canuck winger JT Miller, who helped in the comeback, said of the mid-game deficit. “They were getting rebounds. We started to flip the washers. It was as if they were tilting the ice. I feel like Marky’s save of the referee was the turning point. The game could have been 4-1 here.
Markstrom desperately tried to take a goal away from Jacob de la Rose early in the second period after a St. Louis shootout hit a linesman, blocked Markstrom and left most of the Vancouver net open. The Canuck also made point blank saves on David Perron and Robert Thomas.
“We just had to tighten the chin strap a little bit, play our game, a little more energy on the bench,” Miller continued. “When you see one come in, it gives you a little life. And then I had the impression that we had just resumed the second half and that we had played very well.
The Canucks haven’t made many playoff games since losing the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, and their qualifying round victory two weeks ago over the Minnesota Wild was Vancouver’s first victory in nine years.
But if Wednesday’s second period wasn’t the most exciting in the playoffs since 2011, at least it was the most amazing.
Canucks winger Jake Virtanen, who wasn’t even in the lineup at the start of the playoffs, created space for one goal and scored another during the push. He pulled both Saint-Louis defenders towards him before delivering behind the net to Miller, who took advantage of his clear path by taking the puck hard at the net and hacking it and hitting it until it passes under St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen to cut. the deficit at 3-2 at 11.54 a.m.
At the end of two sustained pressure changes – defenseman Quinn Hughes both overlapped on a two-minute shift – Virtanen then caught Allen cheating far from his post and conceded the puck to equalize at 4:08 pm while using Miller as a decoy.
Motte, whose formidable shorthanded goal opened the scoring in the first period, then gave the Canucks an unthinkable lead 10 minutes earlier. He fired a rebounding puck away from Robert Thomas in the neutral zone, edged out St. Louis defenseman Vince Dunn and landed a forehand back post to Allen to make it 4-3 at 6:17 pm.
Canuck’s boil dulled, however, when Edler was cut off by blues winger Jordan Kyrou’s skate.
The NHL medical team descended from the stands to treat Edler, who did not reappear, leaving depth defensemen Jordie Benn and Oscar Fantenberg to play the key minutes in the third period.
“It was a great victory,” said Markstrom. “We have to feel good about this for a few hours here and then get ready for Game 6.”
The goalie finished with 36 saves and was saved by the bell as time had passed when the Blues rubbed the puck through the goal line at the end of settlement.
“My mindset remains the same: keep the puck out of the net,” said Markstrom. “Obviously when you’re 3-1 it’s not ideal. And after letting three goals in, that’s nothing I want to do. For us to come back after that in the second half was huge, and our third period was probably one of the best times we played with the fronts for a long time that I can remember. It just showed a lot of character.
And even more promises for a team that is always learning to win.