Rangers 4, Canucks 3 (SO): Jimmy Vesey’s shootout winner caps New York comeback

 

 
 
 
 
Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal against Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden on November 26, 2017 in New York City.
 
 

Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal against Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden on November 26, 2017 in New York City.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, The Province

More on This Story

 

NEW YORK — Sequels are a big box-office deal on Broadway.

They’re also a big deal for the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden.

Maybe it was as simple as playing on the greatest stage in professional sports. Or maybe as complicated as trying to fill the injury void left by the loss of Brandon Sutter to a shoulder injury Friday. Or wondering what Alexander Burmistrov could bring after sitting out six-straight games.

But everything that transpired in a Sunday matinee against the New York Rangers looked familiar. Very familiar.

A year ago, Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi scored their first goals of the season and Jacob Markstrom was outstanding in surprising 5-3 victory on U.S. election night.

Fast forward and there was much of the same Sunday. The Rangers had won seven straight at MSG and a thrilling 4-3 shootout decision was settled in the seventh round when Jimmy Vesey went glove on Markstrom.

“We come in to MSG and hold a team like that to 20 shots, you’re not going to hear me complain about a lot of things,” said Canucks coach Travis Green, despite blowing a 2-0 lead. “We responded from a game in New Jersey where I thought we were just OK.”

Here’s what we learned:

Putting the Century Line back together was supposed to spur Daniel Sedin’s quest for a two-point outing to hit the 1,000-point plateau. And the left winger had chances to become the 87th player in National Hockey League history to fashion the feat.

There was nearly getting his blade on the opening goal by Eriksson. There was deferring to Brock Boeser on the power play with the puck in the slot, a drive off the left side and having a backhand thwarted. And then a third-period chance with the game knotted 3-3. And then a chance in overtime.

More importantly, there were significant signs that Eriksson has found his resolve and release. After missing a dozen games with a knee injury, he has now scored three times in the last four games to give the Canucks much-needed support and take the scoring heat off the top line.

After nearly converting a feed from Henrik Sedin with a one-handed backhand effort in an early Canucks flurry, Eriksson snapped a shot past Henrik Lundqvist in a three-shot first period. He also missed a glorious second-period chance on a cross-ice feed from Ben Hutton.

“I couldn’t really get my stick in there and it (pass) hit my skate and went wide,” said Eriksson. “I felt great again today and feel like I’m getting there, but we have to ways to win these games, especially when you’re up two goals.”

Green was impressed by Eriksson’s four-shot outing and seven shots from the reunited line.

“It was great to see,” he said. “I thought that line might have had their best game of the year. All three were in sync, Loui was getting to places quick, reading the play well and got rewarded well.”

There’s great debate about what’s best for Jake Virtanen.

Should he be with the Sedins to provide a forechecking presence and be the puck-retrieval guy? Or should he be where he was Sunday in the lineup shuffle with Sutter out. Skating with Markus Granlund and Brendan Gaunce brought out the best in Virtanen.

He was heavy on the forecheck and the body and his third goal of the season was a result. He fished the puck out of a mosh pit along the sideboards and from the slot, unleashed a wicked wrist shot to the glove side that Lundqvist is still looking for.

“I saw Granny (Granlund) and Gaunce were on the forecheck and the puck just popped out of the group and I just pulled it and let it go,” said Virtanen, who had five shots and nine attempts. “We played pretty well as a line and had good chemistry and were getting in on the forecheck and creating turnovers.

It was so different than a year ago.

Virtanen was scratched here and then dispatched to the Utica Comets after just one assist in 10 games and would spend the remainder of the year with the American Hockey League affiliate.

“Pretty fun rink,” added Virtanen. “A lot of history. The crowd is so loud and lively and when they’re chanting, you can’t really think and you just try to focus.”

Green has a history with Jacob Markstrom that dates back to the 2015 Calder Cup final.

There’s a trust factor and that’s why he has played more than Anders Nilsson, who has better numbers. But there are quirks to his athletic game that need work because of his tendency to either drop to his knees on slappers and over-commit to initial plays in the crease.

Markstrom was on his knees when Michael Grabner went glove. And he was mesmerized by a Rick Nash spin move that allowed Jimmy Vesey to go to the backhand move to force overtime. Green said Nilsson has been under the weather, but if he’s healthy for Tuesday in Brooklyn, he could get the start against the New York Islanders.

bkuzma@postmedia.com

twitter.com/@benkuzma

Tuesday

Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Islanders

4 p.m., Barclays Center, SNP, SN650

This week on The Patcast, Jeff and Botch dive into the roll Canucks rookie Brock Boeser is on and how his scoring success is starting to attract attention around the league. Listen here:

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal against Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden on November 26, 2017 in New York City.
 

Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal against Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden on November 26, 2017 in New York City.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, The Province

 
Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal against Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden on November 26, 2017 in New York City.
Vancouver Canucks' Loui Eriksson, right, celebrates his goal with teammate Michael Del Zotto during the first period of the NHL hockey game, against the New York Rangers, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in New York.
Jake Virtanen of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal at 7:21 of the second period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 26, 2017 in New York City.
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice