Calgary and Vancouver have met three times in the playoffs. Each time, the series has gone to overtime of Game 7.
So you can understand why fans and ex players would be jacked up for this matchup.
— Mike S.™ (@Mike_Stefanuk) April 16, 2015
Earlier in the day, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said the easiest game to steal is Game 1 for the away team.
With minutes remaining in the third, the teams were deadlocked at 1-1 and they looked as if they’d continue the overtime tradition for the series opener. Then Ronald Kenins and Jannik Hansen collided at their own blue line, forgetting to clear the puck and leading to Kris Russel’s winner with 30 seconds left.
Consider the game stolen.
Shots were 30-30, even-strength Corsi-for numbers (meaning all shots, including those that didn’t get to the net) were 51-51, and the Flames squeaked out the win with 30 seconds remaining.
The Canucks lost Game 1 by a 2-1 score. The battle is officially on.
1. What a goaltending matchup
Both goalies were on fire.
When Radim Vrbata and Daniel Sedin each have six shots on net and neither score, you know the opposing goalie (Jonas Hiller) is playing well.
Hiller was sharp, stoning Vancouver players over and over, stopping point-blank shot after point-blank shot.
At the other end, Eddie Lack played so well he had everyone in Rogers Arena chanting his name every time he made a save.
After Kenins and Horvat collided late in the third, the Canucks were pinned in their end. Luca Sbisa and Kevin Bieksa were stuck on the ice, and they didn’t even come close to retreiving the puck to relieve the pressure.
On the Flames’ winning goal, Lack couldn’t find the puck through the screen and he barely reacted to Russel’s shot.
It was a bad sequence with bad timing, and it’s what cost Vancouver the game.
2. Horvat leads the way
If Vancouver’s going to do well in this series, they’re going to need the following three players to step up: Bo Horvat, Jannik Hansen, and Ronald Kenins.
All season long the Canucks’ fourth line has provided energy whenever the team needed it. They’ve been the ones to pull the team out of lulls by throwing big hits and driving the puck to the net.
In Game 1, when they were good, they were very good. In his first playoff game, Horvat scored his first playoff goal which turned out to be Vancouver’s only goal.
When you watch it here, you’ll see it was pure determination by him and his linemates that forced this puck in the net.
Bovat was a happy man.
— The Tron Army (@TronArmy) April 16, 2015
3. The Artful Badger
Vancouver was the better team early on, outshooting Calgary 13-10 in the first period.
Jannik Hansen was flying at such a pace that as he danced up the boards on one play, CBC commentator Jim Hughson called him “the Artful Dodger” as he pulled away from his check.
Which led to the birth of his new name…
@omarcanuck Artful Badger?
— Mike Paris (@thatmikeparis) April 16, 2015
— Cory (@nine30shineshop) April 16, 2015
4. Vintage Night
Here’s a chart from war-on-ice.com showing the top Canucks performers from the game.
From three minutes into the game, the Sedins were putting on a show, passing back and forth and looking unstoppable. It looked as if they might put up four points each by the end of the night.
They didn’t, but you can see from the stats above (focus on the Corsi +/- column), they were all over the Flames all game long.
Strangely enough, so was Dan Hamhuis, who’s had a bit of a shaky season. He had a good game too, making a bunch of calm, smart defensive plays, and jumping into the play and having some of Vancouver’s best scoring chances on the night.
5. Funny tweets
The ever so clueless Sportsnet displayed this “live” shot of downtown Vancouver during the first period.
Holy shit it suddenly got dark in Vancouver. pic.twitter.com/8bUD50KfKb
— Mike Martignago (@MikeMartignago) April 16, 2015
One problem – the sun didn’t set until after 8:30 p.m.
It’s been easy to be critical of the fan experience at Rogers Arena this year. Canucks fans did the wave at ridiculous times (during the third period of close games), they sat on their hands instead of cheering, and the team had its announcer telling fans when power plays started.
One thing the team thankfully did not do was hand out signs like these.
Oh christ. pic.twitter.com/GO7la1ECBy
— Connor (@ConnorSmall) April 16, 2015
I thought they were good hockey fans down in Nashville?
6. Glass half full
The game ended with Vancouver tied with Calgary in shots and with the Flames scoring one more goal just before it ended. This was with the Canucks playing a sleepy second period where they were outshot 10-4.
Just imagine if they kept up the pressure they started the game with through the second and third periods. It would’ve been a walk.
Fans will be upset they didn’t do that, but as we’ve witnessed all season, the Canucks play better when the pressure’s on. Down 1-0 in their first round series – they’ll be feeling the pressure now.
Cool, so Canucks in 5. It’ll be better winning at home #vcbcanucks
— Kaidi Liu (@kaidey) April 16, 2015