Matthew Phillips scores Overtime winner as Canucks drop Game 2

For the second time in three nights, the Abbotsford Canucks took to the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome for Game 2 of the Second Round of the Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday night.

Filip Johansson slotted in alongside Jett Woo to make his AHL debut, while Matt Alfaro returned to the lineup at left wing alongside Chase Wouters and Marc Gatcomb. Arturs Silovs returned to the Abbotsford net for the first time since the series clinching performance in game 2 against Bakersfield, while league MVP Dustin Wolf was between the pipes for Calgary.

The puck was dropped and very soon after, the gloves were too. A chippy opening few minutes resulted in numerous powerplay chances, with Linus Karlsson coming the closest to opening the scoring as he batted a puck out of mid air just wide.

Jeremie Poirier had a powerplay effort rattle off the bar before Silovs slid across to keep the puck out and away from any pursuing Wranglers halfway through the first. However less than a minute later, Calgary would be able to bury a Kevin Rooney chance. With Silovs making the initial stop on Rooney, Clark Bishop was on the doorstep to jam home his first of the playoffs, and the game’s first goal.

It seemed as though Bishop’s tally would be the only goal of the opening frame as the period entered it’s final two minutes. With Abbotsford on the penalty kill and in their own zone, Arsh Bains sprang forward with Christian Wolanin on a two-on-one. Bains took the puck all the way and wired it over Wolf’s glove for the short handed equalizer.

Bains’ first career AHL post season goal was quickly followed up by an encore, as 55 seconds later, Matt Alfaro sets up Bains alone in front of Wolf. Bains shifted the puck to his forehand, then to his back hand, then back to his forehand, sending Wolf sliding the other direction. Bains slipped the puck into the bottom corner, and had given Abbotsford it’s first lead of the series.

Bains’ double came with 1:30 and :35 remaining in the first period, both on the same penalty kill. The Canucks took that sudden shift of momentum into the locker room for the first intermission, with a 2-1 lead. The two sides were level on the shot count with 12 a piece.

Arturs Silovs was the busier of the two netminders in the second period, pulling off saves through several flurries in front of his crease. With the netminder doing his part, Abbotsford would soon double their advantage thanks to Tristen Nielsen. A wayward bounce off of Justin Dowling’s leg sent Tristen Nielsen through on goal, all alone as he headed towards Wolf.

He collected the puck and roofed it over Wolf, having it snap off the back cage and come back out. Immediately the referee signalled that the puck went in, and Nielsen made it three unanswered for Abbotsford as they broke for the second intermission.

37 seconds into the third period, Calgary would grab one back as Ben Jones jumped on a loose puck that bounced off the wall in front of Silovs. Jones reacted quickly and steered the puck into the net for his first goal of the series. Calgary would equalize five minutes later when Dryden Hunt finished off his second of the series. On the man advantage, Matthew Phillips set up Hunt in front of the goal, who levelled the game up at 3 with 14 minutes remaining.

Silovs would make some key stops in the final minutes and would send the game, for the second consecutive contest, to overtime.

An evenly fought overtime period ended via the stick of Matthew Phillips at the 7:49 mark. A wrist shot from the right faceoff circle beat Silovs through traffic, giving Calgary the 4-3 win as well as the 2-0 series lead.

Arsh Bains leads the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs in short handed goals, which helped earn him third star on the night. Silovs stopped 38 of the 42 Calgary shots he faced, while Wolf turned aside 24 of Abbotsford’s 27 shots on the night.

To view the full AHL box score, please click HERE.

Up next for Abbotsford are games 3, 4 and 5 as the series shifts back across the Rockies to the Abbotsford Centre. Those contests are scheduled for Wednesday May 3rd, Friday May 5th and Sunday May 7th, and will all be getting underway at 7:00pm.

To purchase tickets to an upcoming Abbotsford Canucks’ playoff game, please click HERE.