Wednesday February 12 - Vancouver Canucks 3 - Chicago Blackhawks 0
Wow, what a night! Jacob Markstrom stole two points for the Vancouver Canucks with a record-setting performance after Daniel and Henrik Sedin were honoured by having their numbers raised to the rafters on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.
Here are your highlights:
First, the ceremony. There was a palpable feeling of excitement in the air as I walked toward Rogers Arena on Wednesday afternoon, surrounded by fans in jerseys that crossed the eras more than two hours before puck drop.
And — to use a bit of hockey player parlance — you know it's a special night when you're greeted with a commemorative can of Budweiser when you get to your seat in the press box, where alcohol is normally strictly forbidden.
The ceremony was magical. I could have just listened to John Shorthouse introducing the VIPs all night long — from the traditional boos for Gary Bettman to the roars of love for Trevor Linden, Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo.
One of my biggest takeaways is that Daniel and Henrik mean so much as people that everyone on the guest list was able to put aside any bitterness toward the organization because they wanted to pay their respects to their friends.
As Kesler told me after the ceremony, "They're such good people. Honestly, the two nicest people in hockey. I can't say a bad thing about them, and they taught me so much, just by watching them. Just the way they were and how charitable they were off the ice. For them to ask me to come here, I didn't even think twice."
Here's my full story on the ceremony.
If you didn't catch Kevin Bieksa's speech, it's a must-watch — 100 percent true to his personality, entertaining and also heartfelt.
Bieksa has a real gift of the gab which will serve him well in his post-hockey career. He spoke without notes — and the word is that he worked on the speech with his wife, who is a published author herself.
I've read Newport Jane
, and I enjoyed it. It was engaging and unpredictable.
One of the key takeaways from Bieksa's speech was the idea that Daniel and Henrik's influence is continuing to be passed on to the next generations of Canucks.
As Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet put it
“There’s Sedin culture to this organization,” Bieksa said, noting the brothers’ values and standards have been passed on to team leaders, such as Markstrom, Horvat, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev.
“And I’ve already seen them pass it along to Petey (Elias Pettersson) and Quinn and Brock (Boeser). And they’ll pass it along to the next generation of players and in 20 years, there will still be a Sedin flavour to this organization and the Sedin culture in that dressing room. That will transcend any on-ice statistics that they have.”
After the ceremony, the twins spoke to the media and their former teammates were also made available. Then, it was on to the game.
The Canucks players were on the bench in their sweats for the ceremony, and had the chance to take warmup after the pomp and circumstance concluded. And Alex Burrows drew another roar from the crowd when he cranked up the siren to start the game.
But the home team came out as flat as a pancake — outshot 17-7 in the first period yet somehow in the dressing room with a 1-0 lead after the Blackhawks had a goal disallowed — twice — for goaltender interference, and Bo Horvat scored on the subsequent power play for the unsuccessful coach's challenge.
Adam Gaudette made it 2-0 on a pretty passing play early in the second and was one of two Canucks to drop the gloves in the game — fighting Connor Murphy early in the third after Tanner Pearson and Drake Caggiula squared off in the second.
Most importantly, Jacob Markstrom had another incredible performance — tying his career high with 49 saves and setting a new Canucks record for the most saves in a shutout performance.
...and another thing...
With the crowd chanting his name, Markstrom was quick to offer his own tribute to the twins when he was named the game's first star:
The amount of rubber that Markstrom is seeing this season is doing wonders for his save percentage, which is now up to .918. He's now third in the league in shots faced, at 1,355 in 41 games, significantly fewer appearances than the goalies who hold down the top two spots: Carey Price with 1,466 shots in 48 games and Connor Hellebuyck with 1,452 shots in 47 games.
Thankfully, the Canucks now get a few days' rest after their big night. They don't play again until they host Anaheim on Sunday afternoon for the conclusion of Sedin Week, which will honour the twins' work in the community. For now, they have a three-point cushion at the top of the Pacific Division — although that could dwindle while they're idle.
The Oilers are currently their closest challenger, and open a road trip in Tampa on Thursday. Vegas, Calgary and Arizona are all five points back and are also all in action: the Golden Knights host the Blues, the Flames visit Anaheim after a loss in L.A. on Wednesday and the Coyotes visit Ottawa.