Canucks' Brock Boeser scores game-winner in NHL debut
Despite the win, Vancouver officially eliminated from playoff contention
Brock Boeser's college career ended in crushing fashion on Friday night. Scoring in his NHL debut the next day in front of his family and friends wasn't a bad consolation prize.
Boeser scored in his first NHL game a day after signing with Vancouver, Reid Boucher added two in a four-goal second period and the Canucks defeated the slumping Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Saturday.
Boeser was Vancouver's first-round pick in the 2015 draft. His North Dakota team lost to Boston University in double overtime on Friday in the NCAA Tournament in Fargo. The Burnsville, Minn., native joined the Canucks in St. Paul in time for Saturday's matinee.
"It's been crazy — obviously a heartbreak loss there with my North Dakota team," Boeser said. "But, you know, I had to regroup there and focus on this game. I definitely think adrenaline kicked in here."
"Dream come true. I couldn't have drawn this up any better. And to score too, and have my family and friends here is special." - <a href="https://twitter.com/BBoeser16">@BBoeser16</a>—@Canucks
The Canucks surprised Boeser by bringing his parents into the locker room before the game. Then he went out and scored Vancouver's third goal of the second period, scoring off a rebound on a 2-on-2 rush.
"It's good for him," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "It's a great story for him playing at home, and to get [a goal], it was good."
The mood in the other locker room wasn't as upbeat. The Wild have lost seven of their last eight and are now 3-10-0 in March. And they were booed off the ice after the second period by their home crowd.
"That was embarrassing," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of his team's performance. "I'm embarrassed. To me, if I were the fans, I would be booing even more because they pay good money for this, and to see an effort like that ..."
The Wild were shut out for almost 57 minutes by Richard Bachman, Vancouver's third-string goalie, and they were no match for a Canucks team that was 1-5-2 in its previous eight games.
Boeser jammed it home
"It wasn't good enough," Wild forward Jason Zucker said. "We're leaving guys open. We aren't winning battles. We're hanging our goalies out to dry. I don't think we're prepared enough to start some periods and they score quick and we're not being resilient enough to come back."
Darcy Kuemper made 17 saves in his first start since March 12. He gave up Boucher's power-play goal 19 seconds into the second period, then allowed three goals in an 8-minute span as the Canucks put the game away.
"We had stretches where we were good, and then we just had some breakdowns and they were capitalizing on their chances," Kuemper said. "Things snowballed in the whole building, and we couldn't get to the intermission fast enough."
Boucher put Vancouver up 2-0 with a wrist shot that appeared to hit the crossbar and ricochet off into the corner. Video replay confirmed that the puck hit the camera inside the net.
"I had no idea," Boucher said. "It sounded like it hit the post. I saw it go out the other side, that's about it."
Boeser's goal made it 3-0. Bo Horvat broke in alone on Kuemper, who stopped a backhander but couldn't control the rebound. The puck fell at his feet and Boeser jammed it home.
The Boeser cheering section has been like this all game, probably! <a href="https://t.co/vqRfZYfYB8">pic.twitter.com/vqRfZYfYB8</a>—@Canucks
Less than two minutes later, Jack Skille beat a screened Kuemper with a wrist shot from left circle.
In the game's final three minutes, Ryan Suter threaded a wrist shot through traffic to end Bachman's shutout bid. Eric Staal beat Bachman after jumping on a funny bounce off the end boards with 1:15 to play, but the comeback ended there.
Boudreau said he's running out of options to pull his team out of their month-long funk. Despite a hectic late-season schedule, he said his next move is to put them through harder practices, to "see how bad they want to get out of it. Because talking to them and being nice isn't the way right now."