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Game #20 – Vancouver Canucks (8-7-1) @ Calgary Flames (8-11-1) – game recap

In case you were wondering the importance of tonight’s game, in just 6 days, the Canucks will be at the halfway point of their season. The trade deadline is in roughly 6 weeks and management (i.e. Benning and/or Aquilini will be deciding pretty soon if the Canucks will be sellers or buyers. Since Francesco Aquilini gave a vote of confidence ahead of last Saturday’s game, the Canucks are 1-2, but have resembled the team that nearly went to the Conference finals in August more so than at any point this season, except maybe the week they padded their stats vs. Ottawa. Last Game, the Canucks had a strong third period and tied the game while shorthanded late, only to lose on the same penalty pretty much off the opening faceoff in OT. Tonight, the Canucks wrapped up their four game series in Calgary after playing the first three games in Vancouver. It was learned before the game that Justin Bailey separated his shoulder on that hit by Milan Lucic on Monday. Meanwhile Tyler Motte may get a timeline on his upper body injury next week. Braden Holtby got the start in net and was looking to snap a personal 3 game losing streak. His last win was a 36 save gem against Ottawa back on January 28. Same lineup as Monday. Could the Canucks split the 4-game series vs. Calgary? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Canucks opened the scoring 96 seconds into the game as Jordie Benn whipped a one-timer past Flames goalie Jordie Benn
  • The Canucks added a goal just over 7 and a half minutes into the 2nd period as Bo Horvat beat a charging Markstrom and beat the ex-Canuck goalie ala Bobby Orr, except with less air time
  • Just under 10 minutes later, the Flames got one back as Andrew Mangiapane beat Canucks goalie Braden Holtby with a deft move, hooking the puck around the prone Holtby, who tried to close his legs, but was too late
  • Fifteen seconds later, JT Miller blasted a one-timer top-corner on Markstrom to restore the 2-goal lead
  • Thirty-seven seconds after that, Nate Schmidt snapped one home from the slot, beating a scrambling Markstrom
  • The Canucks added a goal almost 6 minutes into the 3rd period as Brock Boeser ripped a shot top corner and over the glove of Markstrom
  • Braden Holtby stopped 35/36 shots
  • Final score: Canucks 5 Flames 1

My Take:

  •  That might have been the best game of the season for the Canucks. They pumped five goals past old teammate Jacob Markstrom, were sound structurally and kept the Flames to the outside. To me, the defining moment of the game was when the Flames scored late in the 2nd period to cut the lead in half. The Canucks responded with 2 goals in two minutes.
  • If you can criticize anything from tonight, it’s the power play. The Canucks had one opportunity and managed just one shot
  • Braden Holtby was rock solid, stopping 35 shots, including all 4 when the Flames had the man advantage. This was the Holtby from a couple of years ago that led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup. The one goal to beat him was a nice effort by Andrew Mangiapane to keep control of the puck and slide it behind the sprawling Holtby’s skates.It’ll be interesting to see if he starts Friday vs. Winnipeg
  • The lotto line was money tonight, combining for 6 points: Boeser (1G 2A), Pettersson (1A) Miller (1G 1A)
  • Bo Horvat’s line was also solid, combining for 4 points Horvat (1G 1A)  Hoglander 2A
  • Don’t look now, but Olli Juolevi is finally showing why his was picked 5th overall in his draft year, just ahead of Matthew Tkachuk. Juolevi was +1 with 3 hits and 2 blocked shots. This included a shift of over two minutes in the middle period with the long change
  • The Canucks won 65% of the faceoffs, led by Jake Virtanen, who won every draw he took. Brandon Sutter (91% success rate), JT Miller (75% success rate), Jay Beagle (63% success rate) and Bo Horvat (50% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks banged out 14 hits, led by Horvat and Olli Juolevi, who both had 3 hits tonight
  • The Canucks blocked 13 shots, led by Alex Edler, who blocked three shots tonight
  • Up next, the Canucks head home to take on the Winnipeg Jets, who they beat in Winnipeg for the 1st time since 1996 back on January 30. Now they will try to beat Winnipeg twice in a season for the first time since the 2014-15 season and they will try to beat Winnipeg at home for the first time since December 20, 2016. They may not have to deal with Pierre-Luc Dubois, recently acquired in a trade with Columbus, as he is dealing with an injury probably stemming from a mandatory 14 days quarantine. They missed him on the 30th of January since Dubois was still in quarantine. The timing might be right again to snap the streak. The Canucks are playing well and they haven’t be on the road much the last couple of weeks, save for tonight. Winnipeg is 2 games back in the standings, but have 4 games in hand on the Canucks.
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