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Best of the Best: January

by Brady Trettenero / Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat went on a tear, Daniel Sedin broke a franchise record and the goaltending came up huge, helping the Canucks post a 6-4-2 record in the month of January. From a filthy toe-drag by Horvat to a milestone goal from a 35-year-old veteran, here are the best plays from the opening month of 2016.


BEST GOAL

Horvat drives to the net to scores beauty vs. Hurricanes (01/06/16)

After snapping a 27-game goalless drought in the second game of the new year against Arizona, Horvat made sure to keep the momentum going in the following game against Carolina. With the matchup at Rogers Arena deadlocked 1-1 in the third period, Horvat took a pass Matt Bartkowski at center ice and drove to the net. Holding his stick with one hand, Horvat fought off two pressuring Canes’ players, before cutting in on goal and quickly beating former Vancouver netminder Eddie Lack. Horvat would strike again with just over a minute remaining in regulation, beating Lack with a perfect shot from the circle for the game-winning tally. Horvat put on a clinic in the month of January, scoring seven times in 12 games, including two game-winners. 2016 might just end up being a good year for the 20-year-old.

BEST ASSIST

Horvat’s nasty dangle leads to Baertschi goal vs. Lightning (01/09/16)

After kicking off 2016 with two wins in their first three games, the Canucks were looking to continue their winning ways against the Lightning at Rogers Arena. Trailing 1-0 late in the first period, Bo Horvat made a fantastic play to get Vancouver on the board. After taking a feed from Yannick Weber, Horvat entered the Tampa zone and cut straight up the middle. Horvat pulled a nasty toe-drag move to get around Bolt’s defenseman Victor Hedman, before feathering a sweet backhand cross-crease pass to a wide-open Sven Baertschi, who tapped it home to knot the game 1-1. The Canucks would lose in overtime, but Horvat’s sweet assist and late game-tying goal helped Vancouver earn a much-needed point against the 2015 Eastern Conference champions. That was the second straight multi-point game for the youngster, who was held off the scoresheet in just two of Vancouver’s 12 January games.

BEST SAVE

Markstrom robs Bruins’ Eriksson with the pad to preserve win (01/21/16)

With the Canucks leading the Bruins 3-2 in the third period at TD Garden, Jacob Markstrom came up with a big save to keep Vancouver ahead. Zdeno Chara took a pass from David Krejci at the point, before moving down towards the circle. Chara spotted a wide-open Loui Eriksson with a cross-ice slap pass, but the former Star was robbed in tight by the outstretched left pad of Markstrom. Markstrom’s great cross-crease manoeuver helped Vancouver beat Boston for the first time this season. The 26-year-old netminder kicked off 2016 the right way, posting a 5-1-1 record with a .931 save percentage in the month of January. His 28-save performance against Boston helped the Canucks to their third win in four games, as they kicked off the new year by grabbing at least one point in eight of their first 10 outings.

BEST SHOOTOUT GOAL

Vrbata goes to the backhand to beat Isles’ Halak (01/17/16)

The Canucks were looking for a second consecutive win on the road when they took on the Islanders at the Barclays Center in mid-January. After a tight 65 minutes in which the goaltenders limited the teams to just one goal apiece, the game went to the shootout. The lone goal of the skills competition came courtesy of shootout ace Radim Vrbata, who moved in on netminder Jaroslav Halak, before faking to the forehand, taking the puck to the backhand and tucking it past the blocker of the Isles’ goaltender. Vrbata is now 3/5 on shootout attempts this season and his nifty move against New York helped the Canucks go undefeated (2/2) in shootouts in the opening month of 2016. Vancouver fared well against the Eastern Conference this past month, posting a 5-2-2 record in nine games against some talented squads from the East.

BEST MILESTONE

D.Sedin becomes Canucks’ all-time leading goal-scorer with game-winner vs. Bruins (01/21/16)

With the Canucks and Bruins tied 2-2 in the third period at TD Garden, Daniel Sedin broke the deadlock with a milestone goal. The 35-year-old surpassed Marcus Naslund's franchise record of 346 goals after he pounced on a loose puck in the slot to put the Canucks up 3-2. Sedin’s 347th career NHL goal came after a Chris Tanev point shot was turned away by goaltender Tuukka Rask and the Swedish forward was able to bury the rebound. Sedin also came up with a big goal earlier in the month, as his OT winner against Florida tied Naslund for the franchise lead at the time and snapped the Panthers’ 12-game winning streak. The veteran scored five times in the month of January, including two game-winning tallies, and was the Canucks’ lone representative at the 2016 NHL all-star weekend in Nashville.

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