The Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their season-opening six-game road trip Saturday night in Seattle. For the second time in franchise history, the Canucks played spoiler in a new team’s inaugural home opener.
Saturday night marked the first home game for the Seattle Kraken, who took the ice at Climate Pledge Arena for the first time in franchise history. With the Canucks heading down to Seattle and the two teams facing-off for the first time, the “Battle of the Pacific Northwest” has officially been born.
Throughout the entire day in Seattle, fans were ecstatic and eager to enter the arena to see their new hometown team play for the first time. The crowd was deafening from the opening ceremony to the final moments of the game.
While the Canucks had already played in five-straight road games, no atmosphere matched the one they faced in Climate Pledge Arena. When the puck dropped to start the game, the crowd was on their feet and waving their rally towels and a rivalry was officially starting to brew.
The Kraken came out flying full of energy, as expected, and after a couple of excellent saves from Thatcher Demko, the Canucks weathered the early storm and settled the game down. This game could have easily gotten out of hand early, but the magnificent play of Demko between the pipes kept it scoreless.
With the final seconds of the first period dwindling down, Vince Dunn scored the first goal in Climate Pledge Arena history, sending the crowd into a frenzy. During a pile-up in the corner, the puck popped out to Adam Larsson, who alertly sent it over to a wide-open Dunn, who gathered the puck and sent a shot soaring past Demko’s glove.
Despite giving up the late goal, Demko had a fantastic period, saving 11 of the 12 shots that he faced in the opening frame. Thatcher had single-handedly kept the Canucks in the game.
At about the halfway mark of the second period, Mason Appleton raced into the Canucks’ defensive zone and threw a shot on net that deflected off Demko’s right pad directly to a cutting Nathan Bastian, who smacked the puck towards the net. Demko stunned the home crowd by rapidly extending his left pad out to rob Bastian of a goal.
Seconds after Demko robbed Bastian of a goal, he was back at it again, this time robbing Alex Wennberg. Jordan Eberle caused a turnover in the Canucks’ defensive zone and centered the puck to Wennberg, who dashed around the back of net in a wraparound attempt on the briefly open net, that was rapidly shutdown by Demko, who slid over fully in the splits.
Shortly after Demko’s back-to-back phenomenal saves, Conor Garland had a terrific shift. Garland was pestering Seattle on the forecheck and eventually stole a pass in the offensive zone and immediately centered the puck to Bo Horvat, who ripped a shot through Philipp Grubauer’s five-hole.
Horvat’s goal marked the first shot for the Canucks since the 15-minute mark of the first period. Vancouver went a full 16:32 of game-time without recording a shot on goal, until Horvat tied the game 1-1.
As the second period wound down, Seattle pushed hard to try and retake the lead before heading into the dressing room. Demko, once again, made another unbelievable diving pad save on a rebound put-back attempt from Calle Jarnkrok.
With the Kraken continuing to put constant pressure on the Canucks, Mason Appleton raced down the ice on a breakaway and snapped a shot that trickled through Demko and started sliding towards the goal line. Realizing the puck had snuck behind him, Demko reached back with his glove and swept the puck away right before it crossed the line, stunning the home crowd once again.
Thatcher Demko’s heroics in net kept the game tied heading into the second intermission. The 25-year-old San Diego native saved all 12 shots that he faced in the second period.
Just over five minutes into the third period, Mark Giordano took a pass from Jared McCann and snapped a shot that deflected off Alex Burroughs’ stick and just barely over Demko’s glove. Giordano’s first goal of the season sent the crowd at Climate Pledge Arena back into a deafening state.
With the Canucks on the power play after Carson Soucy tripped Juho Lammikko, Bo Horvat netted his second goal of the night to tie the game back up. Quinn Hughes sent a shot rocketing towards the net that bounced off Grubauer’s pad directly to Horvat’s stick, who deposited the puck into the wide-open net with 7:08 left in the game.
Only three minutes after Horvat tied the game, Conor Garland bursted to the puck, after it got past Vince Dunn, and skated into the offensive zone. Garland skated in and faked a slap shot, freezing Grubauer, and then slid the puck through his five-hole and into the net.
With the Kraken desperately trying to tie the game, Justin Dowling iced the game, skating on a breakaway towards the empty net and easily sliding the puck past the goal line.
Dowling’s goal was the third unanswered Canucks goal of the third period, sealing the win for Vancouver.
Thatcher Demko finished his outstanding performance with 29 saves. Bo Horvat recorded two goals in a big night, while Conor Garland extended his point streak to six games after his goal and assist.
The Canucks sent the roaring Seattle crowd home disappointed, as Vancouver became the first NHL team to win a game at Climate Pledge Arena.
The Vancouver Canucks will return to action on Tuesday night when they play in their home-opener against the Minnesota Wild at 7:00PM Pacific Time.