Tuesday December 3 - Vancouver Canucks 5 - Ottawa Senators 2
The revelry was great. The outcome was perhaps even better.
The Vancouver Canucks rode a four-goal first period to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators after Alex Burrows was inducted into the team's Ring of Honour on Tuesday at Rogers Arena.
Here are your highlights:
I enjoyed Burrows' pre-game induction ceremony, which included presentation of a Rolex watch by injured Alex Edler and a moving thank-you speech by Burrows at centre ice, with his wife Nancy and his three kids by his side.
It seemed to hit the right note with the fans, and with the team.
Turns out, it was no accident that Antoine Roussel was in the lineup for the first time since last March on this particular night.
“This was my target,” Roussel told Ed Willes of The Province
as part of an excellent article that goes deep into the special relationship between Roussel and Burrows, which now stretches back nearly a decade. “He’s been like a big brother to me, a big inspiration. Every kind word you can say he’s been there for me. I wanted to be part of this.”
Just as we'd hoped, Roussel stirred the pot in his trademark style on his very first shift, aggressive on the forecheck and harrassing the Senators players. He needed just a 19-second shift to log his first hit of the year — on Colin White — then to backhand a picture-perfect pass from Adam Gaudette past Anders Nilsson for his first goal of the year.
No amount of back-hugging from Jake Virtanen was going to deter Roussel from acknowledging Burrows, either.
That goal was the perfect scene-set for a super-fun first period, which saw Nilsson give up four goals on 15 shots before being replaced by Marcus Hogberg to start the second.
Roussel also ended up being one of three Canucks players to pick up their first goals of the year, too. Zack MacEwen's tally, late in the first, was the first of his NHL career — in his 11th career game — and Oscar Fantenberg's third-period marker, in his second game as a Canuck, was the fifth of his 90-game NHL career to date.
As another undrafted player, MacEwen's career trajectory also has some parallels with Burrows', although he has had it a bit easier. Though he started in the minors after finishing his junior career in the QMJHL, MacEwen's first contract was an NHL deal with the Canucks, and he didn't have to spend two character-building years playing for three years in the ECHL before even getting an American League look. That should make Burrows' story all the more resonant to the Prince Edward Islander.
All that buoyant energy would have been lost if it hadn't been for a great first-period performance from Thatcher Demko. In his first start since the collapse in Pittsburgh last week, Demko was busy at the other end of the ice. He made 16 saves in the first period alone, then held the fort against a determined Sens team that was looking to recover from an embarrassing opening frame.
When all was said and done, Demko gave up two goals as he faced a career-high 42 shots against — and got a third-period assist from video coach Darryl Seward when a successful coach's challenge for offside wiped out a Sens tally that would have made the score 5-3, just seconds after Fantenberg's goal.
With the new penalty rules that accompany unsuccessful coaches' challenges, they're not happening nearly as frequently around the league this year. Green took some heat when he got one wrong late in the game against Pittsburgh last week, but if my memory serves, that's the only incorrect challenge I think he's made so far this year. Off the top of my head, he had a correct call early in the game on the road trip in Dallas last week — and in one of the games against Edmonton over the weekend?
My point here is that if that 5-3 goal had been allowed to stand on Tuesday, it would have set the stage for another potentially frantic finish that could have done some major damage to the psyches of the team, especially Demko, and the fanbase.
As it is, the Burrows celebration will be remembered for all its positive vibes.
These types of ceremonies can definitely be powerful. I can't help but think the presence of so many great former captains helped the Montreal Canadiens end their troubling eight-game losing streak with a win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
This all makes me excited for Sedin Week in February!
After an extremely busy month of November, the Canucks now get a moment to breathe. Their next game isn't till Saturday — an afternoon game against Buffalo — so they're off the ice today.
A few players will be meeting with the media at noon, and we have already received a couple of updates on injured defensemen.
First — the Alex Edler news is not great.
But the latest update on Olli Juolevi is a little more promising:
It's good to hear that Juolevi will be returning to game action, but I'll stay cautiously optimistic for now. The memory of how his minor knee issue last year turned into season-ending surgery still lingers.
It is heartening to hear that Rick Dhaliwal thinks we're good.
Finally — more preliminary World Junior rosters have been announced.
As expected, Canucks prospect Nils Hoglander has made the cut for Team Sweden.
And Vasily Podkolzin is on the Russian roster...
The Russians also announced a few days ago that Igor Larionov and Nikolai Khabibulin have been added to their World Junior coaching staff — working under head coach Valery Bragin, who has been at the helm of the squad ever since the Russians won World Junior gold with that comeback win over Canada in Buffalo back in 2011. In his nine-year tenure as head coach, the Russians have also won three silver medals and three bronze.