With the Vancouver Canucks trailing 2-0 heading into the third period in Friday night’s game against the Washington Capitals, coach Bruce Boudreau was likely prepping to read his crew the riot act.
Until J.T. Miller stepped in.
It was Miller, not Boudreau, who have his group a pep talk that prompted a three-goals-in-four-minutes outburst that eventually led to the Canucks escaping with a much-needed point in what’s going to amount to a photo finish at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I don’t know if you want to hear that one,” Boudreau began when asked what his message was in the second intermission.
“Actually, I didn’t go in at the beginning. One of the captains said, ‘I’ll take care of this,’ and they went in, and that’s what leadership is. They went in. I just went in at the end of the intermission and probably reiterated what the one player said. I think they were hungry, but I think it was more the player saying the right things to the group.”
"In the third period, I thought we came out and played the way we are capable of playing and it starts with the power play. It was a great comeback in the third and great point."
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) March 12, 2022
That player was Miller.
And whatever Miller said, it seemed to work.
Quinn Hughes scored 57 seconds into the third period to trim the lead to 2-1, and Bo Horvat scored back-to-back goals at 3:19 and 4:59 to jump from one goal down to one up.
“I’ve got to give credit to Millsy,” defenceman Luke Schenn told Sportsnet 650. “He stepped up and said, you know, obivously not good enough in the first two periods, and, you, know, we gotta be a heck of a lot better.
“Millsy kind of gave it to us a little bit and woke the guys up and guys responded. He’s leading on the ice. He’s leading off the ice, and he played great. Obviously Bo was huge for us in the third period, too, and that’s what leaders do.”
"He kind of gave it to us a little bit and woke the guys up."
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) March 12, 2022
Washington tied it on a power play generated by an Evgeni Kuznetsov embellishment, according to Boudreau, and the Capitals escaped with two points via an overtime win.
“Once we scored the first goal, it happens so often is you get jacked up and you get the crowd jacked up and you knew you were going to score another one,” Boudreau said. “I didn’t know the third was coming, but I thought it’d be pretty tight after the 2-2 for sure.
“I didn’t think our passing was sharp and there were a few guys that didn’t have good games. But in the third period, I thought we came out. We played the way that we’re capable of playing. It starts with the power play. I thought it was a great comeback in the third.”
Vancouver trails the Dallas Stars by two points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with three more games played.
The Canucks are also three points back of the Vegas Golden Knights for third in the Pacific Division, and are one point behind the Edmonton Oilers for fourth.
“To be honest, it was a great point,” Boudreau said. “Maybe we didn’t deserve it through the first two, but I thought that the third period, it was a great point that we earned.”