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Best of the Best: February

by Brady Trettenero / Vancouver Canucks
From two rookies combining for a sweet scoring play to a blueliner's late-game heroics, the Canucks made some impressive plays over the past 29 days. Here is the best of the best from the month of February.


BEST GOAL

McCann and Virtanen combine for a beauty vs. Coyotes (02/10/16)

With the Canucks and Coyotes scoreless at Gila River Arena in the opening period, two of Vancouver’s rookies went to work. Jake Virtanen sent a cross-ice pass to Jared McCann, who carried the puck into the Arizona zone. After crossing the blueline, the 19-year-old quickly came to an abrupt stop and lost the Arizona blueliner tracking him. With space to make a play, McCann feathered a wicked cross-ice pass back to Virtanen, who wired a shot over the blocker of goaltender Louis Domingue to open the scoring. Virtanen’s goal set the tone for the night and propelled the Canucks to a 2-1 win over the Coyotes. Virtanen scored three goals in February, including a clutch game-winner against Ottawa later in the month that was also set up by McCann.

BEST ASSIST

Sbisa goes end-to-end to set up Horvat goal vs. Avs (02/09/16)

The Canucks were looking to kick off their two-game road trip on the right note when they took on a Pacific Division rival at the Pepsi Center in early-February. Blueliner Lucas Sbisa did his part to ensure his team walked away with a victory. With the Canucks leading 2-1 in the early goings of the third period, Sbisa started a rush from behind his own net. The former Duck darted up ice, losing the speedy Matt Duchene and then manoeuvring around Nathan Mackinnon and entering the Avalanche zone. After crossing the blueline, Sbisa quickly cut to the middle of the ice and dished a pass to Bo Horvat on his left. Horvat beat goaltender Semyon Varlamov with a sweet snipe over the blocker to put the Canucks up 3-1. Sbisa’s fantastic end-to-end rush gave the Canucks a two-goal cushion and helped them hold on for a victory.

BEST SAVE

Miller robs Avs’ Johnson with the toe (02/21/16)

After dropping four straight games, the Canucks were looking to get back into the win column against the Avalanche at Rogers Arena on Feb. 21. Ryan Miller turned in one of his best performances of the season to help Vancouver bust the slump and take down their division rivals. The veteran netminder made 37 saves on 38 shots, including a miraculous toe save on Avs’ blueliner Erik Johnson late in the second period. With the Canucks up 2-0, Nathan MacKinnon took the puck into the Vancouver zone and fed Gabriel Landeskog with a pass as he was cutting to the net. With the Avs in a 3-on-1 situation down low, Landeskog opted to feed the trailer Johnson in the high slot. The defenseman quickly unleased a bullet towards the bottom-left corner, but he was robbed point blank by the outstretched right toe of Miller. The netminder’s crafty work down low kept Colorado off the board and helped Vancouver to an eventual 5-1 victory.

BEST FIRST

Etem ends Hiller’s shutout bid with first goal as Canuck (02/06/16)

The Canucks were trailing the Flames 3-0 in an early-February matchup, but that didn’t stop Emerson Etem from getting on the board with his first goal as a Canuck. With time winding down in the third period, Linden Vey cycled the puck down low with Alex Burrows, before coming out from behind the net and dishing a nifty pass to Etem at the left circle. Etem, who was acquired by the Canucks in January for right wing Nicklas Jensen and a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, was able to make himself open despite being surrounded by three Flames’ skaters. The former Ranger was calling for the puck and wired a shot upstairs past Hiller to end the netminder’s shutout bid and get Vancouver on the board. Etem scored three times in February, including a big multi-goal effort against the Senators in an outing at Rogers Arena near the end of the month.

BEST HEROICS

Biega saves the day against Coyotes (02/10/16)

Sometimes, it’s not always the goalie who makes the save. With the Canucks clinging to a 2-1 lead over the Coyotes in the final minutes of the third period, Alex Biega saved the day with some heroics on the goal line. Mikkel Boedker got the play started after he dished a pass to defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson at the blueline. Ekman-Larsson’s point shot bounced around in front before landing on the stick of Kyle Chipchura. The Arizona forward got the puck on his backhand and shuffled it towards a seemingly empty goal cage, but Biega, who had gotten in behind goaltender Ryan Miller, was able to reach on his backhand and stop the puck from crossing the goal line. Biega’s late-game heroics prevented Arizona from tying the game and helped Vancouver pick up their second consecutive win.

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