Bo Horvat kept skating through the Blues on Friday night. He only stopped after he had put the defending Stanley Cup champions down two games in their first-round playoff series.
Horvat scored two more highlight-reel goals for the Canucks in their 4-3 overtime win in Game 2 — a short-handed tally in which he undressed two St. Louis forwards, and then the OT game-winner on a breakaway after he zoomed past two defensemen while doing a little goal-hanging.
NHL BRACKET: Series results, schedule
The winner was doubly huge because it negated Jaden Schwartz’s disputed tying goal with 6.4 seconds to go in regulation. Now Vancouver can shrug off that goal as it heads into Sunday’s Game 3 inside the Edmonton bubble.
“I’m proud of our composure tonight. I like how we kept kept to it,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “You know, obviously it’s tough to get a goal scored against you with six seconds left, and even the second goal. I thought our team kept our composure we didn’t really give up a whole lot in the third period, I think three chances only, and won a big game.”
Vancouver’s 25-year-old captain has four goals in the series and six in the NHL postseason after scoring 22 times in the regular season, and all of the tallies against the Blues have been marked by high amounts of skill. A quick breakdown of each, in order of most recent to earliest:
Goal 4: Game 2, 5:55, overtime
This one was all about speed: Horvat outraced Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Carl Gunnarsson, who got caught up ice, from the neutral zone, and then uncharacteristically beat Jordan Binnington between the legs.
“It’s usually tougher for a goalie, especially coming out on that side (from the left wing) if you do a quick snap (shot) five hole, and I just wanted to try it,” he said. “I’m usually not a five-hole shooter, and just tried it in the spur of the moment, and luckily it went in.”
Goal 3: Game 2, 7:23, first period
This shorty was memorable for the hands. Watch the stickhandling as Horvat maneuvers past Brayden Schenn and then Schwartz to get in on Binnington.
“It’s just one of those things where you kind of notice that there was two forwards back,” he said. “Then you just try and do whatever you can take the puck to the net, and luckily I got through both of them and just tried to finish it from there, and luckily I went in again. It definitely wasn’t planned, but it ended up working out.”
Goal 2: Game 1, 8:01, third period
This goal, the clincher in a 5-2 Vancouver win, combined the two attributes as Horvat undressed Vince Dunn and then blew by him:
Goal 1: Game 1, 4:29, first period
Horvat opened the scoring in the series with this power-play one-timer from the slot. Check the accuracy as he beat Binnington to the short side.
“He’s playing phenomenal right now,” Green said. “The last three games are as good as I’ve seen him, maybe my time here.”
“He’s a big body that can skate and, you know, if anyone’s made for playoff hockey, it’s Bo Horvat, and he’s definitely on top of his game right now,” Green added.
Horvat’s — and the Canucks’ — last trip to the playoffs was in 2015, Horvat’s rookie year. After Friday’s thriller, they’re well-positioned to stay around for a while.
“It’s the best hockey being played, so, I mean, we all wanted to get back here for four years and luckily we’re back now. We just have to keep this thing going,” Horvat said. “I mean, it’s a lot of fun, we’re having fun, the team’s playing well, and we’ve still got to win some more hockey games here, so we’re looking forward to it.”
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