CANUCKS ADVANCE TO SECOND ROUND AFTER 4-2 WIN OVER CONDORS IN FRONT OF SELL OUT CROWD
Following Wednesday’s victory, the Abbotsford Canucks hosted the Bakersfield Condors on Friday night with a chance to advance to the second round of the 2022/23 Calder Cup playoffs.
Following his goal in game 1, Max “Big Game” Sasson centered Nils Höglander and Linus Karlsson to start game two. The lone change came between the pipes for Abbotsford, as Spencer Martin made way for Arturs Silovs in the Abbotsford goal. Calvin Pickard started in the Condors goal for the second time this series.
In front of a sold out crowd at Abbotsford Centre, the home side dominated the opening 20 minutes, but in similar fashion to Wednesday, couldn’t beat Pickard. With three powerplay chances and 16 shots, Abbotsford were laying on the pressure in the first period. Those chances couldn’t be converted into anything scratching the score sheet, and the two teams were sent to the locker rooms in a scoreless tie.
It would take just over two minutes into the middle frame, but that scoreless tie would soon be broken. Jack Rathbone, who scored the final goal of game 1, opened the scoring in game 2 for the Canucks.
Linus Karlsson and Justin Dowling connected down low by Pickard’s goal, before sliding the puck back to Rathbone at the point. The blueliner walked in and wired the puck over the pad of the Condors netminder, giving Abbotsford the 1-0 lead early in the frame.
The scoring didn’t stop there for the Canucks, this time it was another defenceman who found the back of the net. Nils Höglander threaded the puck through a maze of bodies to find a streaking Brady Keeper at the back post, burying the puck past Pickard for the second time in the middle period.
Keeper’s sliding effort came with seven minutes remaining in the second, and was his first AHL playoff goal of his career. However Bakersfield would grab one back late in the frame, as James Hamblin converted on the man advantage inside the final two minutes to cut Abbotsford’s lead in half.
Hamblin’s tally was the final scoring action of the second period, which concluded with Abbotsford holding a 2-1 lead, while outshooting the Condors 22-20.
The Condors jumped out to start the third, levelling the game up at 2-2 in the opening few minutes. Raphael Lavoie, who lead Bakersfield in goals in the regular season, was able to beat Silovs to open his post season account.
Four minutes later, Abbotsford would regain the lead. Nils Höglander sat and waited in the slot for a Tristen Nielsen pass, before he ripped the puck past Pickard before he could get set up for the effort. Höglander’s second of the playoffs came with 12 minutes remaining, but would prove to be the game and series winning goal.
A John Stevens empty net goal in the final minute sealed the game, as Abbotsford advanced to the second round with a 4-2 victory over Bakersfield.
Nils Höglander had his second consecutive multi-point night, while 11 different Canucks found the scoresheet. Calvin Pickard stopped 29 of the 32 efforts he faced, while Silovs turned aside 26 of the 28 Condors attempts on the evening.
For the full AHL box score, please click HERE.
Up next for the Canucks is a trip to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Their opponents are still to be determined, and will be based around the outcome of the Tucson vs Coachella Valley series. Once the opponent has been decided, dates for the games to be played at the Abbotsford Centre will be announced.
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