May 26th, 2024

Rookie goalie Arturs Silovs takes over Vancouver Canucks net for Game 4

By Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press on April 28, 2024.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Casey DeSmith (29) warms up before the start of Game 3 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators, in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, April 26, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-George Walker IV

NASHVILLE – Rookie goalie Arturs Silovs will start in net for the Vancouver Canucks when they face the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Sunday.

The 23-year-old Latvian led the Canucks out onto the ice for warm ups. He’ll be backed up by 24-year-old Belarusian netminder Nikita Tolopilo, who has never played an NHL game.

Silovs is the third goalie to play for the Canucks in the best-of-seven series, and has spent much of the season with Vancouver’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Abbotsford Canucks.

All-star netminder Thatcher Demko backstopped Vancouver to a win in Game 1 but has been sidelined since by an undisclosed injury, and is considered week to week.

Backup Casey DeSmith took over for Games 2 and 3, going 1-1-0 in the two contests with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet declined to say at a pre-game availability whether DeSmith would start, saying only that there were some game-time decisions to be made.

What kept DeSmith out of Game 4 remains unclear.

The goalie was hit by Nashville’s Michael McCarron 12:28 into the first period in Game 3, drawing a goalie interference penalty where Vancouver scored its first goal of the night.

DeSmith did not appear to be injured on the play and finished the game. He was also a full participant in the Canucks’ practice Saturday.

Silovs got a stretch of play with the NHL team back at the end of March and beginning of April. He went 3-0-1 with a 2.47 GAA and a .881 save percentage.

In Abbotsford, the six-foot-four, 203-pound goaltender posted a 16-11-6 record with a 2.74 GAA, a .907 save percentage and four shutouts.

Silovs is no stranger to high-pressure situations after backstopping Latvia to bronze – the country’s first medal – at the men’s hockey world championships last May. He was named MVP of the tournament.

Tolopilo – a six-foot-six, 229-pound goalie who signed with the Canucks in March 2013 – went 20-13-1 in AHL play this season, putting up a 2.83 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2024.

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