TRISTEN NIELSEN GRABS HAT TRICK TO HELP CANUCKS DEFEAT LAVAL 4-3
Fresh off of the back of Friday’s 7-4 Opening Night victory, the Abbotsford Canucks took to the ice at Place Bell once again on Saturday afternoon to take on the Laval Rocket.
Arshdeep Bains registered a career-high four points in the opening game of the season series, landing him as the AHL’s first star on the night. Four other Canucks also registered multi-point nights, as Abbotsford took home their first ever Opening Night win.
A key part of that victory was Artūrs Šilovs, who stopped 27 of Laval’s 31 shots in the Abbotsford net. He would make way for Nikita Tolopilo, who made his AHL debut in the contest. That would be the lone Canuck change, as Jeremy Colliton marched out the same roster as the night before.
Strauss Mann, who entered the game late in the second period on Friday, started between the pipes for the Rocket.
An attacking focused first period saw 22 shots split between the two teams, however nothing was beating Tolopilo or Mann. At least until Tristen Nielsen got on the end of a Jett Woo effort from the blue line.
With just over five minutes remaining in the third, Nielsen opened his goalscoring account for the season with a deflected effort over the shoulder of Mann. Three minutes later, the Canucks would double that lead.
Linus Karlsson dug the puck out of a scrum along the boards, and fed Aidan McDonough who was all alone in front of goal. A slick drag move forced Mann to bite, yet McDonough’s patient finish saw him roof the puck over the sprawling goaltender. The tally would be McDonough’s first in the AHL, and the final scoring action of the opening frame.
Abbotsford took that 2-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes, despite Tolopilo denying the Rockets on multiple dangerous chances late in the frame.
Flipping the script from the first period, Laval left it late into the second but they pulled even thanks to goals from Joshua Roy and Lias Andersson. The teams left the ice after 40 minutes tied at 2-2.
The third period kicked off with a bang as Sheldon Dries stripped the puck away from a Laval defenceman and barreled towards goal. At the last moment, he kicked the puck out to Nielsen who jammed in his second of the game, putting the visitors back in front.
Overtime loomed large as Lias Andersson grabbed his second of the contest with two and a half minutes remaining, Laval’s second powerplay goal of the day. However while the goal was still being announced inside Place Bell, Tristen Nielsen jumped on an errant pass in the attacking zone. Nielsen moved the puck around Mann and buried it into the roof of the net, grabbing his second career hat-trick in the process.
Laval thought they had found a late answer in the dying seconds, however a review showed that the time had expired. Abbotsford held on to the one goal advantage and complete the back-to-back sweep with Saturday’s 4-3 victory.
Nikita Tolopilo made an impressive 41 saves in his AHL debut, helping to continue Abbotsford’s unbeaten start to the season. Tristen Nielsen recorded his third multi-goal game of his career, while Jett Woo, Sheldon Dries and Christian Wolanin made it assists in consecutive games to open the year.
Abbotsford now returns home for a four game home stand, starting off with their own Home Opener on Friday, October 20th, against the Calgary Wranglers. Following Friday’s contest, Abbotsford complete their back-to-back with Calgary on Saturday, before welcoming the Colorado Eagles to Abbotsford centre on the following Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
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