TRISTEN NIELSEN SCORES ELECTRIFYING GAME WINNER AS CANUCKS BEAT LAVAL 4-3
The Abbotsford Canucks welcomed the Laval Rocket to Abbotsford Centre on Saturday night for the second game of a back to back series against Montreal’s AHL affiliate.
Jeremy Colliton made four changes to the lineup that won 4-2 on Friday night, with Jermaine Loewen and Alex Kannok Leipert sliding along side Chase Wouters in the forwards. Matt Irwin was assigned to Abbotsford on Saturday morning, and he paired with Filip Johansson on defence, while Nikita Tolopilo got the start in net for the Canucks. Jakub Dobeš replaced Strauss Mann in the Rocket net.
Laval got the scoring started early, as Nathan Légaré converted on a short handed break away with an assist from Brandon Gignac 67 seconds into the game. The effort beat an outstretched Tolopilo, and opened the flood gates for the opening 20 minutes.
Abbotsford would answer back just 16 seconds later, as it was Chase Wouters who launched the teddy bears on Teddy Bear Toss night. Arsh Bains crossed the Laval blue line and dropped the puck to the captain, who snapped the puck past Dobeš for his third goal of the season.
Wouters would double his tally on the night as he jumped on the end of a Jett Woo shot that bounced wide, as he and Jermaine Loewen whacked at the puck. Wouters got the last touch as the puck nestled in the far corner of the Rocket net, giving the Canucks a 2-1 lead just 3:42 into the contest.
13 seconds later, John Stevens jumped in on the action.
Arsh Bains flew down the right side and scooted around a Laval defender. He crashed the net and got a shot on goal that squeezed through Dobeš and was heading towards the net as a group of players from both sides converged in the crease. John Stevens got the last touch to muscle the puck over the line, putting Abbotsford in front by a pair thanks to three unanswered goals.
The Rocket would grab a pair of late goals from Emil Heineman and Xavier Simoneau, pulling the score level at 3-3 as a hectic opening period came to a close. The Canucks outshot Laval 11-9 in the opening frame.
After a change of pace from the first period, the middle frame came and went without anybody breaking the dead lock. Jermaine Loewen and Riley McKay dropped the gloves in the opening six minutes, but it remained 3-3 through 40 minutes.
It seemed as though a closely fought third period would be destined for overtime, until Jack Studnicka banked the puck off the boards for Tristen Nielsen who darted forward towards goal. Nielsen toe-dragged the puck around William Trudeau and back handed the puck over the shoulder of the Rocket netminder for a highlight reel goal.
Nielsen’s fifth of the season came with six minutes remaining, and proved to the game winning goal. Abbotsford walked away as 4-3 winners, taking their eighth win of the last nine games and making it five wins in a row at home.
Wouters picked up his first multi-goal game since December 31st, 2022, while Bains recorded his second consecutive multi point game (2A), making it four assists in two games against Laval. Tolopilo stopped 28 of Laval’s 31 shots, while Dobeš was pulled after Abbotsford’s third goal. Strauss Mann came in as relief and stopped 19 of the 20 attempts he faced.
Up next, the Canucks will welcome the Coachella Valley Firebirds to Abbotsford Centre on December 8th and 9th (Star Wars Night) for their second series of the season. The team then flies out for a three game road trip, stopping in Coachella Valley and then Tucson for a pair of games, before their final home games of 2023 against Ontario on December 20th and 21st.
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