After a bothersome, on-again, off-again pause that started following their game on March 24, due to COVID-19 protocols, perhaps it was fitting that the Canucks relied upon their own captain, Horvat, to lead a rally past the No. 1 team in the North Division.
“He was phenomenal. What can you say, two goals and an assist. You need men to step up to the plate,” Canucks coach Travis Green explained. “There is a reason why he is wearing a’C’ on his jersey.”
The Canucks — that didn’t even return to practice until Thursday — barely had the kind of lineup which Vancouver fans are utilized to. Green, who said his roster was lost”eight or nine” regulars, watched his team shake off some ancient rust, and also a 2-0 deficit, thanks to 37 rescue from Braden Holtby.
“I was really happy for Holts tonight. He’s such a fantastic person. He’s had a small rough season, but we have tried to stand by him believe him… and we do,” Green said of the veteran netminder who’s in his first season with the Canucks. “To beat a team like Toronto — together with just how long we’ve been out — you are going to require a strong performance from your goalie.”
Holtby held the Maple Leafs scoreless from the next period on.
“It was a gutsy effort from our group; we all just went out there and gave everything we had,” Holtby said. “We stuck together and thought we had an opportunity to win.”
And their captain considers it could be the beginning of something positive down the stretch to get a club which isn’t now in a playoff position.
“This gives our group a lot of confidence,” Horvat said. “We needed something like this to drive us through the program coming up. Having confidence right away is vital.”
Green appeared sullen and stone-faced because he answered questions in his pregame media accessibility when sipping a cup of java. The coach — as well as his team — has been contested from the pandemic, possibly over any other group.
Nevertheless, Vancouver had sufficient of a roster to field those two practices leading to the game, and eventually notched possibly its very best effort of the season, all things considered.
“We had a lot of good efforts and our goalie was fantastic. Even guys that didn’t play with a whole lot, they gave everything they had tonight. As a trainer, it starts right there,” Green said. “You’d hope that it would give them some belief. But I think our group had the belief . Our team is an aggressive group, they love winning, plus they are resilient.
“A win like this will go a long way.”
However, his type of expertise on the blue line was lacking overall against the high-octane Maple Leafs. That said, Vancouver’s defense stiffened at crunch time, and Myers assisted about the game-winning goal in overtime.
“We had a pretty great last couple skates,” Myers said of the team’s preparation. “You can tell men were actually pushing through some of the fatigue to get back at itthat will place us in position to win games.”
The yield of the Canucks was a hot topic for weeks throughout the league, and among their team’s veteran forwards, J.T. Miller, who played Sunday, was outspoken about the league potentially racing their return . Miller finished with 30 shifts for 21:59 of ice time.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning defended the veteran’s message a week.
“We are dealing with a different kind of COVID; the P.1 version is different. We did not know what to anticipate,” Benning said Friday. “As our players started coming back and working out, then the continuous communication — they had been having some symptoms which were different than ordinary COVID, and it took them a little longer to wake up and moving. I believe that was relayed in J.T.’s message”
Myers, also, echoed the sentiment, but much more for what the Canucks have undergone in the home than to the ice.
“The hardest part was when all the families obtained it,” he said. “But seems like most of the kids handled it better than the adults did.”
The Canucks are away Monday but will confront the Maple Leafs again on Tuesday at Vancouver.
“Our group actually wanted to win tonight,” Green stated. “You could feel it on the bench.