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THE MOJ: Canucks depart Nashville with pirate treasure, vow to be better

Boeser’s last-minute heroics give Vancouver an unlikely victory
Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser (6) shoots the puck past Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the third period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. The Canucks won 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

This agent is privileged to travel with the B.C. Lions on the road.

I’ve talked to many players and coaches about how they feel leaving a city after a game and there’s pretty much a universal answer amongst everyone.

Lose and you feel like you have left something behind – something that is yours.

Win and some will tell you that you feel like a pirate – you came in, got what you wanted and now you’re leaving with your treasure.

After the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 overtime win in game four against the Predators in Nashville on Sunday, I can guarantee you that some of those players felt that way when their charter went wheels up.

Simply put, the Canucks stole game four with Brock Boeser playing the role of Blackbeard.

The Canuck forward scored twice in the final three minutes to complete his hat trick and then Elias Lindholm’s tally just 1:02 into overtime gave the Canucks an improbable win that gave them 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Improbable in the sense that both of Boeser’s late goals came with goaltender Arturs Silovs on the bench for a sixth attacker.

Improbable in the sense that Silovs started the game for the injured Casey DeSmith, who had started the previous two games for the injured Thatcher Demko.

Silovs was the story at the start, Boeser was the story by the end.

“First off, we know we can play better. We know we didn’t play good enough tonight. We’ve had a few scenarios this season where we’ve got some six-on-five goals and we kind of know the looks we want. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. Luckily, they went in tonight,” Boeser said afterwards.

As for Silovs, it was just another day at the office.

The 23-year-old Latvian, who led that country to a bronze medal in last year’s World Championships, seemed unfazed by the task at hand.

“I played in Latvia for my hometown, so it’s about the same atmosphere I would say. It feels great. Either they boo you or they’re for you. It’s always great to play (in these type of games),” he calmly said after making 27 saves in the win.

His performance didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates nor was it unexpected.

“I couldn’t be happier for the guy. Just to be thrown in and play against the Predators in the playoffs…that’s a super hard thing to do. He was so calm. He made some really timely saves to keep them at bay when they were really pushing,” said J.T. Miller.

“He played great. He came in for us at the end of the year and played fantastic for us then too. We all had trust and belief in him and he made some big saves for us tonight. He was a huge part of our win,” added Boeser.

With the series shifting back to Vancouver for game five on Tuesday, the Canucks know that they have to play better if they want to finish off the pesky Preds. As we mentioned in this space last week, it all starts with winning puck battles.

“They’re doing a good job to slow us down and blocking a lot of shots but today was about effort and winning those 50-50 battles. I think we got outmuscled a lot and we were one-and-done a lot and didn’t win enough. They were hungrier than us. We have to be better prepared next game. We have to win our battles and start there,” said Lindholm.

“We need to have that desperation from the start of our next game. They’re a really good hockey team. They’re strong on pucks and they win puck battles. We’ve talked about our forecheck. It hasn’t been good enough. There’s been a lot of one-and done and you can see they’re getting momentum off of that. They’re bringing the puck out pretty clean right now and we know we need to be harder. We have to start there by winning our battles,” explained Boeser.

Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet mentioned post-game that “we’ve got to get some guys in the fight a little bit more” and without naming names you know that Elias Pettersson has to be at the top of that list.

Especially concerning was after Nashville scored their first goal of the game and Pettersson got bowled over by Nashville’s Jeremy Lauzon during the celebration and then meekly skated to the bench with no sort of pushback. It was a symptom of the disengagement that Pettersson has shown this series.

The Canucks in all likelihood will win this series but if they have any plans on advancing any further, they will need EVERYONE to be in the fight.

You can have as many passengers on the post-game charter as the aircraft permits -you just can’t have any passengers on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.


* The Predators are being physical on Quinn Hughes every chance they get and it’s taking its toll on the Canuck defenceman. Vancouver has to do a better job of slowing down the Preds speed on the forecheck and give Hughes more support in terms of outlets. “They’re running him. That’s playoff hockey. We’ve got to help him out in certain situations. If we are skating and winning some more battles, they’re not going to get as many chances to hit (him) then that will help Huggy,” noted Tocchet.

* Nikita Tolipilo, who already was in Nashville as the EBUG, backed up Silovs. Tocchet was talking about the next-man-up mentality with the goalies in Vancouver but the same can be said with their farm team. The injuries have had a ripple effect with Abbotsford, who won the third and decisive game of their best-of-three AHL playoff series versus the Colorado Eagles on Sunday. Abbotsford started Zachary Sawchenko, who only played in six games all season. All Sawchenko did was make 47 of 48 saves in a 2-1 overtime win to earn third-star honors in the game. Abbottsford now advances to play the Ontario Reign in best-of-five Pacific Division Semi-Final.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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