Toffoli's OT winner caps Canucks' comeback in Montreal to begin road trip
Tuesday February 25 - Vancouver Canucks 4 - Montreal Canadiens 3 (OT)
It wasn't a Picasso by any stretch, but the Vancouver Canucks gutted out two points in their first game without injured Jacob Markstrom as they ended a long losing streak at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
Here are your highlights:
Max Domi and Paul Byron got the better of the Canucks early — with Domi laying the body on Quinn Hughes on the first shift of the game, then setting up Byron to open the scoring at 5:59. And once again, the Canucks were badly outshot — 40-29 in regulation.
But after clawing their way back from a 2-0 deficit and going an impressive 2-for-2 on the power play, Vancouver put on a puck-possession clinic in overtime. They kept Domi, Byron and Jeff Petry pinned in their zone for 1:35 and fired five shots at Carey Price before Tyler Toffoli finally beat him for the win — and for his fifth point as a Canuck.
If you count his last two games with the Kings, Toffoli's actually on a five-game point streak, with seven goals and two assists over that span. 🔥🔥🔥
This overtime sequence was somewhat Sedin-ish, don't you think?
Once again, the game may have hinged on a pivotal time out by Travis Green, called after Shea Weber put the Habs up 2-0 with a bomb from the blue line at 7:23 of the first.
It can't be easy to make the decision to throw your body in front of a Weber slap shot — but I think both Alex Edler and J.T. Miller unsuccessfully tried to help out Demko on this play.
Green's time out — with the Canucks already trailing 7-2 on the shot clock — was probably as good a time as any to settle the players down and remind them not to let things spin further out of control.
And it worked. The Canucks needed just six seconds to put the power play into action after Weber was called for a slash on Tyler Motte, and by period's end, the shots were even at 13-13.
In the second, Montreal took over the balance of play again, but Demko took a page from Markstrom's book and stood tall, stopping all 12 shots he faced in the middle frame.
The Canucks tied the game with 4:24 to play in the second, on an Alex Edler wrister from the left point.
But they needed to mount one more comeback to get to overtime. Jordan Weal snuck the puck past Demko to give Montreal the 3-2 lead in the first minute of the period — setting the stage for Jake Virtanen's 18th of the year, five minutes later, where he beat Carey Price from a nearly impossible angle.
Even with the score tied, there was no defensive shell at either end of the ice. Shots on goal were 15-12 for Montreal in the third. But once the Canucks had pocketed the single point, they went all out to add the second, starting off this 4-in-6 segment of the schedule with a huge win.
Elsewhere in the Western Conference on Tuesday:
• Calgary beat Boston
• Edmonton lost in overtime to Anaheim
• Arizona lost to Florida
• Nashville beat Ottawa
• Minnesota beat Columbus
• Winnipeg lost in a shootout to Washington
• Chicago lost to St. Louis
The Canucks woke up on Wednesday morning in second place in the Pacific with 74 points, two behind Vegas and tied with Edmonton in points, with one game in hand.
The Oilers visit the Golden Knights on Wednesday.
Calgary's now alone in the first wild-card spot with 72 points, and Nashville has moved into the second wild card with 70.
Winnipeg and Arizona also have 70 but, like Vancouver, the Predators have several games in hand.
Finally — don't count out Minnesota. They're three points back, in 11th, with 67 points.
The Canucks have now made their way to Ottawa, where they're practicing on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's clash with the Senators. Tyler Myers is absent — no word yet on whether that's an injury, or just a maintenance day.
Myers finished the night on Tuesday with 19:13 of ice time — a little low, but nothing too unusual.
And speaking of defensemen, Quinn Hughes' assist on Horvat's first-period goal marked another milestone for him: his 50th point of the year. He has now opened up a five-point lead over Cale Makar in the rookie scoring race.
No word yet on Jacob Markstrom, who is supposed to be meeting with team doctors in Vancouver today. It'll be interesting to hear if the 3-4 week timeline for his injury that has been bandied about proves to be correct.
In closing, I had the pleasure of chatting with Canucks' P.A. announcer Al Murdoch about his career and his new gig as the voice of the NHL's big tentpole events. Check it out!