Iain MacIntyre: Emerson Etem caps Canucks' comeback in Cali

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks right wing Emerson Etem (26) celebrates with center Bo Horvat (53) after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016. The Canucks won 3-2. =
 
 

Vancouver Canucks right wing Emerson Etem (26) celebrates with center Bo Horvat (53) after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016. The Canucks won 3-2. =

Photograph by: Alex Gallardo, AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. — In the second week of their National Hockey League season, the Vancouver Canucks beat the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on consecutive nights. In the second-to-last week of the season, they made another California sweep, beating the Ducks 3-2 Friday, one night after dumping the San Jose Sharks 4-2.

Watching the Canucks these four nights, you would never have guessed what transpired in the five months in-between.

At the end of their worst season in nearly two decades, the Canucks are suddenly on a winning streak.

“Yeah, it’s a little bit of a different feeling,” Canuck Bo Horvat said Friday. “We’ve been playing so well of late, it’s great to get on a so-called winning streak. We’ve had this team all year and just couldn’t put the puzzle together. It’s not like we’ve been playing badly ... we were just finding ways to lose. Finally finding ways to win is nice.”

Emerson Etem, who hadn’t scored in 17 games, broke a 2-2 tie with 6:37 remaining in the third period, forcing a turnover by Cam Fowler, then muscling his way past the Anaheim defenceman to score on the rebound from Alex Biega’s point shot.

The Canucks had pulled even only 2½ minutes earlier when defenceman Dan Hamhuis took advantage of a retreating defence and somehow forced a sharp-angle, short-side shot past Anaheim goalie John Gibson at 11:02.

And the Canucks, who have blown 12 games this season when leading after two periods, orchestrated their third-period comeback against a formidable opponent while playing with only nine forwards. Sven Baertschi, injured on Thursday, didn’t start the game for Vancouver and Chris Higgins and Linden Vey didn’t finish it.

“It’s pretty cool because this team had every reason to doubt that we were going to win that game,” Hamhuis said. “We’re playing a strong team, Anaheim, back-to-back and down a goal in the third. Maybe that’s the thing about not being in (the playoff race) — you don’t get stressed out and just stay in it. We just kept playing our game.”

Asked how the Canucks can sweep the Sharks and Ducks on the road after losing nine straight games, how they can look so good some nights but be on their way to the franchise’s worst season since the 1990s, Hamhuis said: “We’re way out of it and it looks like we didn’t have a chance. But if you break down our season, it was a very fine line. Right up until mid-February we were right there. And we were terrible in overtime; if we’d gone .500 in overtime we’d have been in a playoff spot. Then we just got obliterated with injuries and things spiralled from there.”

Tied for last in the National Hockey League when they left for California three days ago, the Canucks climbed to 25th among 30 teams in a span of 24 hours. They’re probably not going to finish any higher — the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes are four points ahead of them — but Vancouver is suddenly four points clear of last place and the best chance to win the draft lottery.

“We’re playing games that have little meaning standings-wise, but there’s a lot of work here for a young team,” Canuck Jannik Hansen said after his two-assist night. “We’re getting ready for next year; a lot of guys are getting tested in tough situations.”

Everyone on the Canucks failed in the first minute Friday.

They seemed to be pretending to play when they stood around in front of Markstrom, thrashing on the ice like a grounded tuna, and watched Duck Josh Manson collect a loose puck and easily score after only 48 seconds.

Horvat tied it 1-1 at 4:22 of the second, shooting between Gibson’s pads after jumping off the bench and skating on to Hansen’s outstanding breakaway pass.

With Baertschi out and Jake Virtanen suspended, the Canucks chose to dress extra defenceman Andrey Pedan as their 12th forward on Friday. Higgins and Vey didn’t survive the second period.

And it looked like the Canucks would not survive the third when Nate Thompson’s rebound goal put the Ducks up 2-1 at 8:42, a few seconds after Horvat skated the puck into a turnover at the Vancouver blue-line.

The Canucks were down to three forward lines, down by a goal, and playing a big, brawny Stanley Cup contender on the road in their second game in two nights. Naturally, they rallied to win.

Why on Earth would you doubt them?

imacintyre@postmedia.comTwitter.com/imacvansun

THE DEBRIEF

Down by a goal and down to nine healthy forwards, Canucks Emerson Etem and Dan Hamhuis scored third-period goals 2:20 apart as Vancouver rallied to complete a two-game, two-night California sweep. Canuck goalie Jacob Markstrom broke his personal six-game losing streak, making 30 saves and finally getting a little run support. Bo Horvat scored Vancouver’s other goal. Josh Manson and Nate Thompson scored for the Ducks.

MARKY MARRED

Canuck goalie Jacob Markstrom carried a five-game personal losing streak into Friday’s game and had won only two of 10 starts since Feb. 10. His goals-against average during the slide was 3.47 and his save rate .902. But in those 10 games, teammates had manufactured only 16 goals of run support. And the Canucks had scored only once in four games for Markstrom before Friday.

BIG NIKITA

We’ve seen that 6-7 rookie defenceman Nikita Tryamkin looks comfortable in the NHL after only three weeks. But he also gives opponents pause with his size and strength. In the second period, he turned Brandon Pirri into a smudge on boards with a hit at the whistle. When confronted by Chris Stewart, Tryamkin threw the 230-pound Duck to the ice like he was a stickman. At this point, only Tryamkin knows how tough he is.

NEXT UP?

The Canucks begin the final week of their longest season since the 1990s with a home game Monday against the Los Angeles Kings, who are 3-1 against Vancouver this season and have won the teams’ last two games by a cumulative 10-1 score. At 13-21-5 and with only two games left at Rogers Arena, the Canucks could finish with the worst home record in franchise history.

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks right wing Emerson Etem (26) celebrates with center Bo Horvat (53) after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016. The Canucks won 3-2. =
 

Vancouver Canucks right wing Emerson Etem (26) celebrates with center Bo Horvat (53) after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016. The Canucks won 3-2. =

Photograph by: Alex Gallardo, AP

 
Vancouver Canucks right wing Emerson Etem (26) celebrates with center Bo Horvat (53) after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016. The Canucks won 3-2. =
Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal to tie the score 1-1 against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Brandon Pirri #11 of the Anaheim Ducks jumps over Ben Hutton #27 of the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, of Sweden, makes a save against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) vies for the puck against Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) and defenseman Shea Theodore (53) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, left, controls the puck as defenseman Korbinian Holzer, center, of Germany, controls Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins, right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks reacts after a shot to his mask during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner, left, collides with Vancouver Canucks center Markus Granlund (60), of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins, right, controls the puck against Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, left, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
Jakob Silfverberg #33 of the Anaheim Ducks stickhandles over the bliue line in front of Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) takes a shot under pressure from Vancouver Canucks right wing Emerson Etem, center, and defenseman Alex Biega (55) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks makes a save on Chris Higgins #20 of the Vancouver Canucks as Josh Manson #42 looks to clear a rebound during the second period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks makes a save on Chris Higgins #20 of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Chris Tanev #8 of the Vancouver Canucks reacts as he is tripped for a penalty by Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Josh Manson #42 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates his goal with Ryan Kesler #17, Jakob Silfverberg #33, and Cam Fowler #4 to take a 1-0 lead over the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a shot off  his mask during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) blocks a shot as Vancouver Canucks center Markus Granlund (60), of Finland, and defenseman Korbinian Holzer (5), of Germany, vie for the rebound during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks makes a pad save during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Josh Manson #42 of the Anaheim Ducks scores a goal past Jacob Markstrom #25 and Jannik Hansen #36 of the Vancouver Canucks to take a 1-0 lead during the first period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks and Daniel Sedin #22 warm up before the start of the game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) deflects the puck towards Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) with center Ryan Getzlaf (15) defending during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016.
John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks stops Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks as Shea Theodore #53 defends during the second period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks makes a pad save during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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