Points to ponder when the Canucks talked about winning the game before hitting any point and did both to find a way to reach Roberto Luongo in a 5-1 win over the Panthers on Sunday, which put them in a draw in the final of the West Conference Card playoff position:
Matheson Return: Tick, tick, tick, boom
It would take something meaningful to steal Luongo's spotlight.
Return to the coup of Mike Matheson who ran for Elias Pettersson? A goal from Nikolay Goldobin? A sleeping power play coming to life?
Even amid some uncertainty to what degree the Canucks would seek retribution in Matheson – the Florida defender punched Pettersson on the final boards and threw him headlong on Oct. 13 in Sunrise, Fla., To receive a two-game suspension . it was still the sidebar.
Luongo was the story. He always is. He got the Luooos. Matheson took the booos.
"The best way to rub this on their faces and get back to them is to get the colon," said Bo Horvat before the puck to avenge Matheson's attack.
"That's all about winning today," added coach Travis Green. "We are two points out of the wild card spot."
It's what you expect everyone to say. In fact, everyone wanted a piece of Matheson. His star player loses six games because he was pinned and beaten after Matheson was turned inside out by Pettersson. There would be a return. You just knew it. But first, the Canucks had to respond to the competitive bell.
"It was a great game and I found our team play phenomenal," said Green. "We did not give them many chances and Luongo kept them in the first two periods. I loved our game tonight.
Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle finished with Matheson's early and hard checks and Antoine Roussel wanted a piece of the blue line. He was challenged to fight, but he would not. And then with Matheson on the ice as a spectator, it was Michael Haley who was struggling with Josh Leivo and then had to fight Erik Gudbranson in a protracted fight at the end of the first period.
Maybe some of Matheson's pre-game jokes have made it to the locker room. Green said he never addressed his team. He did not have to. Especially after Matheson held the court.
"I think the whole thing (after October 13) was a bit abnormal," he began. "It's nothing I dealt with before and at the end of the day, and to this day I was not happy with the suspension because I knew what my intentions were and what I was meant to be was not the case.
"That was disappointing. But having said that, I understand and know where the league is going and wants to protect its players. Whenever such a game happens, it's important to get in touch and see if he (Pettersson) is okay. I did not want to do that. If I were that kind of guy who intended to do that, I would not mind, but obviously yes. That's why I held out my hand.
All good and good, but it would not be good enough. Especially when Gudbranson found himself on the ice against the fourth line and Haley. But he had to be clever about it.
"Especially in a one-goal game, you do not want to take an instigator penalty and risk giving a power play," Gudbranson said. "The guys tried (to fight against Matheson). "It's not run-and-gun and it's not the wild west as it used to be. I think Petey would rather take two points home than put us in a bad situation with a goal advantage."
What Gudbranson did resonated with his teammates. It is galvanized and the D-man received the bars when he left the area. And even when Haley was on ice with 10 seconds remaining in the game, the Canucks had already made their point. They won the game. They received the retribution.
"I know Petey would like to play in this game and we did it for him," Horvat said. "There is no business with these things (in the last 10 seconds) because the game is over, the fight has already been waged and Guddy has done his job. There was no reason to stir the pot any further. I thought we handled it as best we could and got together as a team again. "
As for the manner in which Gudbranson answered the bell, it did not go unnoticed.
"I went on ice with him that shift and I knew something was going to happen," Horvat said. "For him to answer the bell against a tough guy like that, it's not an easy contest and Guddy behaved easily, at least it was what he looked like. That pumped us.
"To get it (fight) in the first period, we got engaged and we left there. We may not say that in the media, but we do not forget what happened (in Florida). There was history and emotions were High."
Luongo Vintage: Prime performance is not the last?
All local Luongo sightings reignite the polarizing debate.
Does the franchise leader in wins and shutouts deserve to have his Canucks number retired? Or should he be on the Ring of Honor? There was no debate over what could be his final Rogers Arena, the 39-year-old cork still has game. Although his numbers are unusually low (3.36 against average goals, 0.891 saves percentage) in his first 22 matches. he made 31 saves before a can of empty nets and would end with 32 stops.
Luongo showed a glove hand in the first period to steal Brock Boeser from a rebound. He then took a shot from Boeser to the mask, made a glove save Loui Eriksson by the wing and picked up another Boeser from the side of the mask.
It took 21 shots to finally beat Luongo when Eriksson channeled Pettersson in the second period. He threw a cross over from Mike Hoffman in the defensive zone, left alone and waited for Luongo to make his first goal in nine games.
"I had the feeling that he (Hoffman) would move on to his D-man," said Eriksson, who had a three-pointer night. "I was just trying to get angled and have a good lead and I was able to catch him by chance. The record was jumping a little at first and I think he expected me to shoot soon, but I managed to hold it and go around it.
"It was good to finally score again."
Said Green: "This line (Eriksson-Beagle-Motte) was very good and we needed them tonight because we played against the first two lines and would release us to play the Bo line against the fourth and third lines. And when we have that advantage, it's good.
Luongo then took a glove in a shot from Markus Granlund and thwarted Motte. How can he get away after a day like that?
"It's understandable that people are curious, but to be honest with you, I do not know myself," Luongo said of his future. "I do not have an answer.I would like to play as long as possible.I still love playing the game.At this moment, I am going through difficult times but as soon as I leave, I will go back where I need to and will be fun again.
"It's always good to come back here Fans are great It's always special for me It's always gonna have a special place in my heart It's gonna take a little more desperation (to win) Start with me on top.
Horvat's Hope: They Joined the Band
Injuries and indifferent jokes meant that Horvat would play with a series of wings.
The center's performance pendulum swung from a guy who just closed to a guy who scored for the front and although now spend nine games without a goal, there are reasons for optimism. Being reunited with Sven Baertschi and Boeser gave the first wave of attacks quite dizzying and potential.
Horvat, who made six kicks Thursday, had four in the first period on Sunday and once again had his chances. He placed a power play chance on the net and placed a feed of Troy Stecher right in the backhand. Boeser took the two photos of Luongo's mask and the line matched for 11 shots and 15 attempts.
"I thought we were good tonight and it generated a lot of offenses and chances," Horvat said. "We're familiar with each other and we know where the others are going to be and we did a good job of it tonight. We're right here with the (wildcard) point. "
Markstrom manages, Hutton scores
Jacob Markstrom did not see much rubber, but he had to make some difficult defenses against Jared McCann (rebound) and Evgeni Dadonov (jam) before Frank Vatrano scored in the backhand. As for Ben Hutton, it was his starting point to deposit a rebound from Stecher that made it 2-1 before Boeser and Beagle scored empty goals and Markus Granlund would close the scoring.
"Me and Stechy talked before the draw and he told me to go back and I kinda laugh, but he said seriously," Hutton said of his fifth goal of the season. "He put it well on a tray for me and we have insisted on going to much to the net in practice. It was good.
OVER TIME – Chris Tanev fell awkwardly on the final boards in the opening period of the second period and left the game briefly before returning to the bench. The power game is now 0-for-12 in the last four games.