Brock Boeser’s emotions ran the gamut Saturday.
When the Vancouver Canucks right-winger got to the rink for morning skate, he learned he was set to be a healthy scratch. Hours later, he scored his fourth goal of the season, helping his side to a 3-2 overtime win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau said he’d been planning to hold Boeser out of the lineup until fourth-line forward Dakota Joshua awoke from his afternoon nap with an injury.
For Boeser, knowing he was about to be held out of the lineup wasn’t easy.
“It hurt hard and it hurt bad,” he said. “And so when I got the call (saying I was in), it was a moment. Everything happens for a reason. I knew I needed to make the most of it.”
Boudreau liked the way the 25-year-old forward responded to adversity.
“He played mad, which I’m sure he was,” the coach said. “His shot was great. “I was hoping he’d score in overtime, that would have been a pretty cool thing. But I thought he played a good game tonight.”
Boeser forced extra time with a rocket 11:48 into the third period Saturday. Dropping to one knee, he unleashed a blistering wrist shot that soared past Arizona netminder Karel Vejmelka and tied the game at 2-2.
“I think it was a better game for my confidence,” Boeser said. “I thought I got it back as the game went on and I’ve got to keep it. I’ve just got to continue to work hard and be consistent for our team and be a difference maker each and every night.”
Bo Horvat then took advantage of an overtime power play after Arizona was called for too many men. Vancouver defenceman Quinn Hughes fired a long bomb and the Canucks’ captain tipped it in with 50.1 seconds left on the clock to seal the victory.
The game-winning goal was Horvat’s 19th of the year. He sits third in the NHL scoring race behind Dallas’ Jason Robertson (22) and Connor McDavid (21) of the Edmonton Oilers.
Horvat also scored in regulation for the Canucks (10-12-3), while Hughes and Elias Pettersson each notched a pair of assists.
Jakob Chychrun and Christian Fischer had goals for the Coyotes (7-11-4), who are winless in their last four outings.
“We left a point on the table,” said Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny. “Our game at 5-on-5 was pretty good but too many penalties.”
The Canucks went 2 for 8 with the man advantage Saturday while the Coyotes were 1 for 3.
“Just way too many penalties,” Chychrun said. “It seems to be a theme for us lately, so we have to just find a way to stay out of the box. You just shoot yourself in the foot when you do that, so got to be a little more disciplined.”
Vancouver got a prime chance to draw level late in the second when Arizona took back-to-back penalties, giving the Canucks a two-man advantage for a minute and 19 seconds. The home side failed to registered a single shot across the stretch.
“It’s a big belief of mine, if you can kill off a 5-on-3, you’re usually winning the game,” Boudreau said. “But it just goes to show that when we got the 4-on-3 (in overtime), we changed things up that we were doing wrong on the 5-on-3 and consequently, we got the goal.”
Spencer Martin stopped 21-of-23 shots for the Canucks. He takes over the crease from Thatcher Demko, who’s expected to miss about six weeks after leaving Thursday’s loss to the Florida Panthers with a lower-body injury.
Karel Vejmelka made 29 saves for Arizona.
Vancouver’s Luke Schenn registered his 2,947th career hit, passing former Washington Capitals defenceman Brooks Orpik for most hits by an NHL defenceman.
“I think the cool thing is not necessarily the number but it’s just the guys at the top of that list, I think, are honest guys,” Schenn said. “I played against a lot of them and I recognize when they’re on the ice, it’s usually a hard night, a hard shift. So to be up there with those guys, it’s an honour.”
The league starting tracking hits in 2005-06.
Playing for a cure
Vancouver held its annual Hockey Fights Cancer night. Canucks players wore lavender-coloured warm-up jerseys with name bars paying tribute to someone who’s battled the disease.
Boeser’s jersey read “Dukey” in honour of his father, Duke, who died in May following a long battle with cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
“Obviously, it’s a night that means a lot to me and my family,” he said. “So I’m just happy I got in (to the game) and to be able to score was the cherry on top.”
The Canucks close out a four-game homestand Monday when they host the Montreal Canadiens. The Coyotes fight the Flames in Calgary the same night.