The Abbotsford Canucks welcomed the Laval Rocket to the Abbotsford Centre on Saturday night for the first game of a back-to-back between the two. Saturday’s clash was also Abbotsford’s second annual Teddy Bear Toss night, with a packed house on hand to watch.

Justin Dowling and Alex Kannok Leipert made their returns to the lineup, with Dowling a recent father to a new baby girl. Arturs Silovs made his team-leading 11th start of the year, with Jake Kupsky backing him up.

Kupsky was signed to a Professional Try Out Agreement on Friday afternoon after Collin Delia was recalled to Vancouver. In the Laval goal it would be Kevin Poulin making his 10th start of the year with Cayden Primeau out due to injury.

Poulin would be tested early with a Canucks powerplay, with both Karlsson and Di Giuseppe having chances to bury the game’s opener, but the game remained scoreless through the midway mark of the period.

It would take 13 minutes of the Abbotsford crowd eagerly awaiting the opening goal, and they would get their wish in the form of a Phil Di Giuseppe slapshot. Some slick passing at the point between Wyatt Kalynuk and Kyle Rau opened up space for Di Giuseppe to rip his first goal of the campaign.

Teddy bears rained from the stands, littering the ice for a great spectacle for all involved, and for a good cause as well, with all of the bears being donated to West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation.

Jesse Ylonen would answer back for the Rocket, who was on the receiving end of a cross-crease pass from Anthony Richard, levelling the game at 1. At least, until Jett Woo ripped home his first goal of the year as well.

Woo would get on the receiving of a two-on-one breakaway with John Stevens, putting Abbotsford back in the lead in the final minutes of the opening frame.

Woo thought he had another in the second period, as his wrist shot made it past Poulin from the point. Not before Lane Pederson redirected the shot over the netminder’s shoulder to give Abbotsford a 3-1 lead. Which would soon be brought back to 3-2.

Anthony Richard was left alone in the right faceoff circle, and a loose puck fell to his stick. Laval’s leading goal scorer roofed one past a sprawling Silovs, cutting Laval’s deficit to one.

Just moments later, Di Giuseppe would break forward with Podkolzin on a rush. Podkolzin would use some shift stick handling to sneak past a Rocket defender along the boards, before throwing the puck to Di Giuseppe in front of Poulin. A snap-finish gave Abbotsford it’s second two goal lead of the night.

Di Giuseppe’s second would be the final tally of the second period, with the score sitting at 4-2 after forty, despite a flurry of penalties to end the frame.

The tone of the third period would be set 39 seconds in, when Peter Abbandonato jammed home a loose puck in the crease, with the powerplay marker pulling Laval within one.

Lane Pederson, for the second time tonight, re-established Abbotsford’s two goal lead five minutes later. Justin Dowling and Pederson were each in the low slot in opposite faceoff circles. A saucer pass across the front of goal perfectly found Pederson’s stick, who buried the puck between the outstretched toe of Poulin and the post.

Vincent Arseneau would soon join in on the fun himself, scoring for the second time this week and the third time this season. Jumping on a rebound from an Alex Kannok Leipert shot from the boards, Arseneau stuffed home what would turn out to be the insurance goal.

Trailing 6-3 with eight minutes remaining, Laval would pile on the pressure late, with a pair of goals from Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Peter Abbandonato, forcing a tense final few minutes at the Abbotsford Centre.

However, it would be a Linus Karlsson empty net goal that sealed the victory for the Canucks, winning a wild one 7-5 and extending their winning streak to three.

Phil Di Giuseppe finished the game with four points and earned himself first star, while Arturs Silovs registered 25 saves on 30 shots. For tonight’s full box score, please click HERE.

Up next for the Canucks is a rematch with Laval on Sunday afternoon, with the puck dropping at 4:00pm from the Abbotsford Centre. To purchase tickets to any upcoming Canucks game, please click HERE.