Canucks flashback Friday: Winning the qualifying round series against Wild

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

In this edition of flashback Friday, we look at the Vancouver Canucks’ series-clincher against the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round.

The Vancouver Canucks were one of 24 teams who returned to play in August following a 2019-20 NHL season suspension that lasted nearly five full months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The playoff format saw drastic changes in a season like no other. The top four teams in each conference received first-round byes, and they participated in a round robin to determine the No. 1 to 4 seeds.

Meanwhile, the other 16 teams squared off in best-of-five qualifying round matchups to determine the rest of the playoff field. The Canucks met their former Northwest Division foes, the Minnesota Wild.

This was Vancouver’s first playoff berth since 2015. They were looking to win their first series since the 2011 Western Conference Final, when Kevin Bieksa’s stanchion goal sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final.

After getting shut out 3-0 in Game 1, the Canucks rebounded with 4-3 and 3-0 victories in Games 2 and 3, respectively. One more win would send them to the round of 16 against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

The Canucks trailed 3-1 in the second period, but goals from Brandon Sutter and Quinn Hughes quickly erased the deficit. However, Nico Sturm beat Jacob Markstrom on a harmless looking shot from the boards to put Minnesota up by one in the final minute of the second frame.

With less than six minutes to go, Tanner Pearson won a puck battle behind the net and quickly fed captain Bo Horvat to tie the game up. Regulation solved nothing, and overtime was required.

All Vancouver needed was one more goal to end the nine-year drought of zero playoff series wins.

Well, the franchise and its long-suffering fans didn’t have to wait long to celebrate.

The puck came to veteran rearguard Chris Tanev — he of 22 career goals in 514 NHL games. 11 seconds into the frame, the perennial fan favourite beat Alex Stalock on a wrist shot to clinch the series.

The Canucks went into a frenzy, having finally tasted victory in the postseason. The nine-year drought was over. Vancouver was finally moving on.

Of course, the thrilling playoff run didn’t end there. The Canucks defeated the Blues in six games and pushed the Vegas Golden Knights all the way to Game 7 in round two, but Thatcher Demko’s heroics weren’t enough as they dropped a heartbreaker 3-0 in the decisive contest.

All in all, it was a thrilling year of progress for the Canucks, who had endured four painful years of rebuilding with no playoff action.

Next. Canucks: Boeser is becoming more than a shooter. dark

But Tanev’s heroics in Game 4 changed everything, and the Canucks are in great position to build off last season’s success in 2020-21.