The young, upstart Vancouver Canucks have the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues on the ropes.
Thanks to their 4-3 overtime win on Friday night, the Canucks have jumped out to a stunning 2-0 series lead in their First Round matchup.
The story for the Canucks on Friday night was, once again, their young core players taking charge and carrying the offense. In this game in particular, it was captain Bo Horvat scoring two more goals, including the overtime game-winner.
Horvat opened the scoring for the second game in a row when he scored this ridiculous shorthanded goal just seven minutes into the game. He flew through the Blues’ power play and finished it off by just embarrassing a helpless looking Jaden Schwartz.
Horvat then won it overtime on a breakaway after taking an incredible bank-pass off the boards from standout rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes.
That goal came just minutes after Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom made a desperation diving save along the goal line to keep the game going.
Elias Pettersson also had another huge game for the Canucks, scoring a goal and adding an assist in the win.
This group of players is what this Canucks team is all about. It is still a team that has its share of flaws, and Friday’s game was far from perfect. They were dominated on the short chart, they allowed a two-goal lead to slip away in the final 10 minutes of regulation (Schwartz tied the game on a deflection with just six seconds to play), and they generated almost nothing at even-strength on Friday night outside of Horvat’s winner. That is not always a winning recipe. The roster still probably needs some added depth around the edges before it can really become a serious Stanley Cup contender.
But man, this Canucks team does have the most important pieces in place that can help them eventually get to the status. They do not just have franchise building blocks, they have stars. Stars that can carry a team in stretches and completely take over games. The core of Pettersson, Hughes, Horavt, Brock Boeser, and J.T. Miller is tremendous, and all of them have been shining so far in the postseason. Add in an underrated goalie in Markstrom and it’s a team that can look pretty special when all of those players are going the way they are right now.
As for the Blues, well, the 2019-20 season restart is not going as they planned. With Friday’s overtime loss they are now 0-3-2 and been outscored by an 18-11 margin.
Now they are in a position where they have to win four of the next five games against a young team that is playing with confidence and whose best players are clicking on all cylinders.
No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (VAN leads 2-0)
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Canucks 5, Blues 2 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 14: Canucks 4, Blues 3 (OT)
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.