Sergei Shirokov, playing his first NHL game in over 15 months last night, was an offensive force; dominant at times, creating multiple scoring chances and playing a solid two way game.
But it wasn’t until midway through the second period when Shirokov asked the reigning Hart trophy winner to touch his stick for good luck that he was able to finish. Henrik obliged. On his next shift Shirokov scored.
It was a goal befitting of such a talented player, featuring a Bertuzziesque push off, two dekes and a backhand tap through a disorientated Craig Anderson.
"I went to backhand and shot the five-hole because two guys scored through his five-hole," Shirokov said.
Shirokov’s post game analysis demonstrated the development of an intelligent young player who is learning what it takes to have success in the NHL.
And who gets the historic puck?
“It’s in my bag right now. I will keep it,” said Shirokov.
Shirokov also drew a penalty, put six shots on net and finished +1 in 13:09 of ice time. Not a bad season debut.
TANEV’S FIRST GAME
Chris Tanev made his NHL debut last night in Colorado playing alongside veteran defenseman Keith Ballard. He logged 12:49 of ice time, registered one shot and was a respectable -1.
“I was nervous the whole day,” Tanev said. “I couldn't sleep. I just remember how fast everything seemed. I remember thinking, Wow, this is a step up”.
Coach Alain Vigneault was pleased with his play.
“For a guy stepping into a real tough environment against one of the most skilled teams in the league I thought he did alright,” said Coach Vigneault.
Tanev, formerly of the Markham Waxers and the Rochester Institute of Technology, punctuated his sudden rise to the NHL with a solid defensive play to break up a Colorado three-on-one rush late in the third period.
Tanev joins the ranks of other Markham Waxers alum that’ve made it to the NHL. The famous Ontario Junior Hockey League team has produced the likes of Steven Stamkos, Adam Oates and former Canuck Goaltender Bob Essensa.
Tanev is the first player from the Rochester Institute of Technology to play in the NHL.
END OF THE ROAD
The Canucks chartered back to Vancouver last night after a 2-2-1 road trip that saw them play five games in three time zones over ten days.
It was the longest trip of the year for the Canucks, a far cry from last season’s record setting 14 game Olympic expedition.
Despite a respectable .500 record on a tough trip, the Canucks are disappointed in their results; an indication that they have become an elite team in the NHL.
“The way we've been playing we would expect more from ourselves than a .500 road trip,” Roberto Luongo added.
“I thought the other four places we went to we battled real hard,” Vigneault said. “But we expect more than a .500 road trip, but you also have to look at the process and how our guys compete and from that standpoint I was real happy.”
Vancouver still boasts the league’s fourth best road record at 14-7-2.
The Canucks will have a chance to improve upon their league leading 15-3-3 home record when they open up a four game stand against Kyle Wellwood and the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.