By Andy Eide
Vancouver Canucks goalie prospect Micheal DiPietro’s first NHL start Monday will surely be a memorable one for him – for both good and bad reasons.
The 19-year-old is with the Canucks as an emergency call up from the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s due to a collection of broken down Vancouver goalies. Surely, the rest of the Canucks would step up and protect the young net minder.
That notion lasted just 64 seconds into the game against their Pacific Division rival San Jose Sharks. The Canucks lost a puck battle behind their goal and it came out to front where three Vancouver defenders had San Jose’s Timo Meier surrounded.
Surrounded is all they did.
The three Canucks stood by and watched as Meier fired his 20th of the year – the fifth Shark to have reached the 20-goal mark – and things didn’t get better from there. Just over a minute later, an Evander Kane shot was deflected up into the air where Vancouver defenseman Ben Hutton tried to bat it away, only to bat it past DiPietro and into the net.
Two goals on the first four shots, just three minutes into the game. DiPietro went the distance Monday night – he had to as veteran Jacob Markstrom was dealing with stiffness in his back – and gave up seven goals on 24 shots as the Sharks rolled to a 7-2 win.
DiPietro is a guy that hockey fans in Seattle will most likely get to know when the still-to-be-named franchise begins play in 2021. He’s in Vancouver as an emergency call up and will soon return to the junior OHL. He was Vancouver’s third-round pick in the 2017 draft, played for Team Canada at the recently completed World Junior Championships and is a top goalie prospect.
Seattle Thunderbirds fans may remember DiPietro as the guy who backstopped the Windsor Spitfires to a Memorial Cup victory in 2017. Despite the loss, DiPietro was full of poise after the game.
"Some adversity has been thrown but it's ok, it's something I can work towards bettering my game and bettering myself. It's still a dream come true.' – DiPietro is keeping a positive attitude after making his #NHL debut. pic.twitter.com/nq8QGufbou
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 12, 2019
The win for the Sharks completed a three-game sweep of Western Canada and they leave in first place in the Pacific Division, leap frogging over the Calgary Flames. They were playing without Erik Karlsson on the back end but didn’t miss him as 14 guys ended up with at least one point.
Seattle fans should get used to the Sharks as they always find a way to stay a competitive club. They have some contract issues to deal with at the end of this season but always seem to be in the Pacific conversation.
Kane got the lucky bounce for one goal and then loosed a laser in the second period for his second of the night.
Bringing that hometown heat @evanderkane_9 🔥 pic.twitter.com/J7PATvGtZ6
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) February 12, 2019
The two goals give Kane 26 on the year and he is on his way to just his second career 30-goal campaign.
From a Vancouver perspective, there wasn’t a lot to be excited about. They didn’t show up to play for their young goalie and the loss leaves them two points behind the Minnesota Wild for the West’s final playoff spot.
There was, as it’s seems there is every night, an Elias Pettersson moment. With time running down in the first period, he carried the puck into the San Jose zone, hammered the breaks and made a seeing-eye pass to Bo Hovart for a goal.
THAT. PETEY. PASS. 🤯
THAT. BO. FINISH. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/YC3pbHnk1g
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 12, 2019
The rookie Pettersson has 51 points in 46 games and they’re already carving his name into the Calder Trophy given to the rookie-of-the-year.
San Jose’s Joe Thornton, who has grown his epic beard back, ended the evening with just one assist but that helper moved him past Gordie Howe into ninth all-time for assists and tied Teemu Selanne for 15th all time in points.
Bonney Lake product Dylan Gambrell was a scratch for the Sharks Monday due to the flu but has been recalled from the AHL and did see action on the road trip. He’s appeared in five games with the Sharks this year but has yet to register a point. With the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda he’s played in 31 games with 11 goals and 28 points.
Former Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Brendan Dillon did play and had an assist while picking up 18:54 of ice time. Dillon played 280 games with Seattle from 2007 and 2011.
Debut for Zack MacEwen
DiPietro wasn’t the only Canuck making his NHL debut. Vancouver had called up Zack MacEwen up from Utica prior to the game and he picked up his first NHL point with an assist in the loss.
MacEwen is a fun story as he was undrafted out of the QMJHL but was having a good season in Utica. With the Comets he has potted 17 goals and 25 assists in 49 games.
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