Over the summer, I will keep the Canucks section of TheHockeyWriters.com updated by looking at classic Canucks games from the West Coast Express era.
Today’s featured game took place on Wednesday, November 1st, 2000.
Coming into the 2000-2001 season, the Vancouver Canucks and their fans had much to be excited for, despite having missed the playoffs the last four seasons. Mark Messier, the bald scourge of the Canucks franchise, had left to go back to Broadway.
Vancouver was showcasing its younger, newer team. Led by newly anointed Captain Markus Naslund, who scored 27 goals the previous year, the team was also building off of the trade of veteran Alexander Mogilny at the previous trading deadline. Brendan Morrison was prepared to start his first full-season for his hometown team. Two new faces; those of Swedish twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin, also began their Canuck careers, being the 2nd and 3rd overall picks in the draft the previous year.
This was a new era in Vancouver, and, after a terrific 6-2-2-1 October, the Canucks welcomed into town the Colorado Avalanche, the juggernauts of the Northwest Division since its inception, boasting some future Hall of Famers in their primes: Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy and Adam Foote. Raymond Bourque, in the twilight of his career, was pursuing a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche, but he would not be much of a factor tonight.
Nearing the end of the second period, just a few seconds after Adam Deadmarsh beat Vancouver goalie Felix Potvin to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead, Deadmarsh made one of the sillier decisions of his promising hockey career: He challenged Ed Jovanovski to a fight.
Jovanovski was never much of a fighter in his seven years with the Canucks. He was aggressive, but only had two fights the previous year, and just one in the season up to that point (against Chris Dingman in an earlier game against the Avalanche). Deadmarsh was more of the pugilist, despite giving up two inches and ten pounds to Jovanovski, he had fought five times in the previous season and seven times the year before.
Deadmarsh slashed Jovanovski to get his attention in the slot in front of Patrick Roy. This took place across the building from my seat, but the three punches were visible, and nearly audible in a nearly-full arena. It was a dominant fight, and the three wild haymakers thrown by Jovanovski caught Deadmarsh and he dropped, unable to withstand more punishment.
Daniel Sedin would score his fourth NHL goal on the ensuing Canuck powerplay (Deadmarsh was penalized for the slash) and the Canucks tied the game 3-3 headed into the third. Early in the final period, thanks to some hard digging work done by Morrison, the puck came to Markus Naslund who dished it to Jovanovski, who cut in from his position off the right point and moved into the high slot, staring down the best goaltender in the world.
Roy froze, and Jovanovski beat him cleanly with a wrist shot to make the score 4-3 Vancouver. The Canucks were a team known for their futility, but managed to take down a perennial Stanley Cup contender on this November night in Vancouver. The Avalanche would go on to win the Stanley Cup, and they would do it sweeping an injury-plagued Canucks team in the first round of the playoffs. Markus Naslund, who scored the first goal of the game on this night, would score 40 others scattered throughout the year, ere his season was abruptly ended with a broken leg ten games to go. But this Canuck team showed the city the start of the team that would develop into a contender in the years to come. Potvin stopped all 15 shots in the third period and the Canucks hung on.
And 17,000-strong fans stayed in the building and erupted to salute the game’s clear-cut first star, as Ed Jovanovski took a celebratory loop around the ice.