The Abbotsford Canucks now have points in five straight games and put some major distance between themselves and the Ontario Reign after completing a two-game sweep with a 5-2 win over the Reign on Saturday (March 18).
Despite being outshot significantly, the Canucks capitalized on their chances and starting goalie Arturs Silovs was excellent in goal to earn the win.
Silovs made an impressive 42 saves and has now not lost in regulation in the AHL since Jan. 28. His record improves to a sparkling 23-10-5-3 after the win and he has a goals against average of 2.47 and a save percentage of .908.
Matt Alfaro also had a big night for Abbotsford, as he collected a career-high three points (two goals and one assist). He opened the scoring at 2:08 of the second period after a scoreless first. Linus Karlsson put the Canucks up 2-0 after a perfect pass from Arshdeep Bains at 6:07. Karlsson now has 20 goals on the season.
Alfaro with the sneaky shot from the boards 🕵️♂️ pic.twitter.com/ZKSMMvjGeP— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) March 19, 2023
# 2⃣0⃣ on the year for Linus 🤩 pic.twitter.com/ByonUQ3Avt— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) March 19, 2023
Lias Andersson got the Reign on the board at 9:44, but Arshdeep Bains added a big shorthanded goal at 19:15. Bains picked up a loose puck, found some open ice and the beat Reign goalie Cal Petersen. Bains now has nine goals and was one of the best players on the ice on Saturday.
Oh Bainsy, that was a BEAUTY 🤯 pic.twitter.com/B3l5vYqWHo— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) March 19, 2023
Alfaro scored again at 2:04 of the third and then defenceman Jett Woo pinched, stole the puck and scored his fourth on a nice individual effort at 9:58. Andersson added a power play at 13:19 for the Reign to reach the 5-2 final score.
Jett Woo makes it 🖐️ for the good guys 😊 pic.twitter.com/eOSWYS1M9V— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) March 19, 2023
Abbotsford was outshot 44-24 in the win, and defenceman Jack Rathbone led the Canucks with five shots on goal. A number of players had multi-point nights including Alfaro (three), Bains (two), Marc Gatcomb (two) and Aatu Räty (two).
Saturday also marked a milestone for one of the Canucks veteran leaders, as forward Justin Dowling marked his 500th game in the AHL. Dowling was actually a member of the Abbotsford Heat in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. The team honoured his achievement with an acknowledgement on the scoreboard and showed his wife and daughter in the stands.
"It's crazy to look back on how much hockey I've played, 12 years is a long time... I have no complaints"— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) March 19, 2023
Justin Dowling addressed the media following Abbotsford's 5-2 victory in Dowling's 500th AHL game pic.twitter.com/PpPzZVRwLe
“It’s crazy to look back at all the hockey I’ve played – 12 years is a long time playing sports for a living but I have no complaints,” he said. “When the video came up and my wife and daughter were on the screen that was pretty special.”
He said he’s glad to see his career return to Abbotsford and noted the differences when he played under the Heat (Calgary Flames affiliate).
“It’s funny, it’s almost like it’s come full circle,” he said. “But it’s different here now just because it’s part of the Canucks organization. It’s nice now to be on the side when they’re all cheering for us.”
Silovs said he actually prefers facing a lot of rubber and thought the team in front of him played well.
"It's always a team effort, so the guys helped me. They scored the goals, we put our strengths together."— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) March 19, 2023
Arturs Silovs addressed the media following Abbotsford's 5-2 victory over Ontario. pic.twitter.com/7QNyZlme8W
“I think when you face less shots it’s more of a mindset and you have to be always in it,” he said. “Let’s say you have 15 shots in the game, it’s much harder to play because maybe from those 15 shots like two are going to be breakaways right? And if you don’t make those it can be pretty tough for your team.”
Saturday followed a 4-0 win over Ontario on Friday (March 17) and the pair of wins are big for the Canucks, as they remain in third place and pushed away from the fifth place Reign by four points. Abbotsford’s record is now 35-21-2-4 and they are four points up on the fourth place Colorado Eagles and 11 up on the Reign.
Abbotsford’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now down to five. The team now hits the road and next takes on the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday (March 22). The Canucks then head to Ontario to re-match against the Reign on March 24 and 26.
The next home game is set for April 7, when the Reign return to the Abbotsford Centre.
Tonight’s weather forecast: 0% chance of Reign pic.twitter.com/eRN2Dinecf— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) March 19, 2023