Michigander Motte unlikely hero with game-winning goal for Canucks
Michigander Tyler Motte did not play his usual role on Wednesday night.
Motte, who’s from St. Clair and played at Michigan, is a center for the Vancouver Canucks, his third team. The 25-year-old journeyman bounced between the NHL and American Hockey League before finally sticking with the Canucks in 2018-19.
A bottom-six forward, Mott – 5-10 and 192 pounds – usually makes his biggest contributions defensively and on the penalty kill.
But this time he was the hero on the offensive end.
Mott scored twice, including the game-winner, in Vancouver’s 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues at the Rogers Center in Edmonton on Wednesday. That gave the Canucks a three-games-to-two edge over the defending Stanley Cup champions in the First-Round Stanley Cup Playoff series. Game 6 is Friday night at 9:45 p.m.
Motte, who was limited to 34 games in the shortened regular season (in which he had four goals and eight points), opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal with 6:45 left in the first period on Wednesday night. He then broke a 3-3 tie with 1:43 remaining in the second period for the first two postseason goals of his NHL career.
"It's huge. You need production up and down the lineup, especially in the playoffs,” Motte said after the game. “Every game is going to be a battle, so for us to be able to contribute that way tonight, it was important for us."
Former Plymouth Whaler J.T. Miller and Jake Virtanen also scored for the Canucks.
Motte played at Michigan for three seasons from 2013-2016. He was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round with the 121st overall pick in 2013 and made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2016-17. But he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets on June 23, 2017, and then to Vancouver on Feb. 26, 2018.
On Wednesday’s game-winner, he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, outskated three Blues to turn the play into a de facto breakaway and beat St. Louis goalie Jake Allen with a forehand shot.
His first goal was also a breakaway-type effort.
He picked up the puck just inside the blue line – when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo broke his stick on a shot attempt – and took off down the ice. Pietrangelo recovered and caught up but was helpless with no stick. Motte put the puck through Pieterangelo’s skates on an inside move (right-to-left) and fired a shot past Allen in one continuous motion.
“Kind of a lucky break, I guess, with him breaking his stick up top," Motte said. "I missed a clearing attempt off the face-off early, so it was nice to get an opportunity up the ice. (Pietrangelo) caught up to me pretty quick. I just tried to make a move and get the puck off on net. It happened to go in."