The Vancouver Canucks made a quick stop one province over to take on the playoff-bound Edmonton Oilers for the last game of the season after the Canucks began their first game of the year in the Oil City.
Unlike their first meeting of the season, the Oilers elected to, as many playoff teams did tonight, rest their biggest superstars, giving Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatil the night off.
In other words, the visiting Canucks had a good shot of giving head coach Bruce Boudreau win number 600 of his career.
Vancouver goaltender Spencer Martin also started in his second consecutive game, after helping his team earn a victory in their final performance in Rogers Arena on Thursday.
With the stage set, would the Canucks be able to end their season on a high note? Or would they close out the season the same way they opened it with a loss to the Oilers?
First Period: Mr. 99
The Canucks had the first shot of the game, and it became very apparent that the Oilers were going to sit back and let the clock burn, at least for the first 20.
On the other hand, Vancouver was chasing their own collective aspirations.
Most notably, fans were really tuning into this game in the first place to see if J.T. Miller could hit 100 points for the first time in his career, and for the first time as a Canuck since Daniel Sedin did so during the 2010-11 season. Oh, the good old days.
Miller got the wheels turning in the game, drawing the first penalty by aggressively taking a puck that bounced off an Oiler and was there for the taking. Keeping his feet moving and shielding the puck, Miller forced his defender to wrap his stick around him, catching him up high.
Ensuing powerplay, Vancouver was mere inches away from finding the back of the net from deflected shots being fired from the point and half walls. One of those very deflections found its way between the blocker and pad of Mikko Koskinen but not passed the goal line.
Yet another close call failed to go the Canucks’ way when a Brad Hunt shot ricocheted off the back wall and to a wide-open Conor Garland at the side of the net with plenty of space and time to bury the puck.
It was only a matter of time before Vancouver cashed in on one of their many shots of the period from a very welcoming face. Miller notched his team-tying 32nd goal on the season, firing it glove side after receiving a dish from Garland, who was nothing but a menace all game for the Oilers.
Heading into the middle frame, it was refreshing to see the Canucks have a dominant opening period and outshoot their opponents.