The Vancouver Canucks fittingly took a page out of his book in a gritty 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Trevor Linden Night at GM Place.
Before Vancouver enacted some revenge on Edmonton for its 3-0 win over the Canucks last Saturday, a special hour-long pre-game ceremony was held to honour Linden – the man, the myth, the legend.
The procedures, which included a heartfelt speech from Linden, ended with a #16 banner being lifted to the rafters where it will forever hang alongside the only other sweater to be retired by the Canucks, Stan Smyl’s #12.
It was an emotional event that even caught the man of the hour a little off guard – he let loose a few tears when seeing his name high above the ice – one that the Canucks carried over into the game.
“Trevor was a special teammate and a special friend for a lot of guys in this room and it was a special night and we wanted to make it even better with a win and we did so we’re really happy,” said Alex Burrows.
Vancouver came out prairie flat to start the game, but that’s easily forgiven as the Canucks look part in the pre-game festivities resulting in some seized up muscles.
Scoreless through 20 minutes, the home team came to life in the second with a trio of goals that Linden was surely proud of.
The first came just 1:14 into the middle frame on the power play off an Alex Edler point shot that Daniel Sedin
tipped just before the puck hit Edmonton’s Dwayne Roloson.
The netminder jumbled the shot and when Steve Staios came in and creamed D. Sedin into Roloson as he tried to make the stop, the puck trickled over the line.
Linden scored quite a few tough goals as a Canuck, roughly 318.
A phenomenal single-handed effort by Ryan Kesler
doubled Vancouver’s lead 2:37 later; he stole the puck from Andrew Cogliano at the Edmonton blueline and swiped in on Roloson.
Again the puck bounced around before Kesler ended up with it behind the goal, he banked it home off the goalie’s skate.
You’ve got to be good to be lucky and Linden was both, plus the individual determination Kesler showed skating down the wing had #16 written all over it. Daniel Sedin
’s second goal of the game, which came with less than four minutes to play in the second and served as the eventual game-winner, was perhaps the most Linden-like of them all.
Thanks to a quick pass from Jannik Hansen
, parked behind the Edmonton net, Danny Sedin was able to snap an insanely fast wrister in between Roloson and the right post.
Linden was masterful at being in the right place at the right time, always ready to make a great play.
Every Canucks player channeled their inner-Linden on this night, it could be that a little of his skill rubbed off on them from when the team sported #16 jerseys for the ceremony and pre-game skate.
Either way, a win for Linden was the goal and the Canucks accomplished it.
“It was a special night for him, and for us too, so it was good to get two points, that’s for sure,” said Daniel Sedin
, Vancouver’s leading goal scorer, now with 16 this season.
“We all know it’s a special game and there was a lot of hype around the day so we got into it a little more too,” added Hansen, who ended a 19-game goal drought with an empty net goal late in the third.
“Obviously it takes a little longer than usual to get into the game because of the long wait, but I felt like as soon as the second period came we were all over them.”
Vancouver outshot Edmonton13-4 in the second period as the Canucks put three goals on the board, although the Oilers made it close late in the game with a pair of third period markers.
The Canucks were without Shane O’Brien because of a charley horse and Sami Salo
due to an upper body injury, so the team battled the final period with only four defencemen.
Gritting out a win under those circumstances makes this victory even sweeter.
Curtis Sanford, the man who made 22 saves between the pipes for Vancouver, said playing with only four D-men wasn’t as hard as it looked.
“I think the help that we got from our forwards kind of eased that and you could tell the guys were working really hard because they knew that we were down to four D and sometimes three when there was a penalty,” said Sanford.
“We really buckled down and you could really see how hard these forwards worked for us tonight.”
Hard work and determination are why Linden’s #16 is now enshrined at GM Place and why the Canucks dumped the Oilers.
There's no better way Vancouver could have paid tribute to one of the greatest Canucks of all time.