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Game #33 – Vancouver Canucks (16-13-4) @ San Jose Sharks (16-17-2) – game recap

After a successful 3-2 home stand that was wrapped up with an epic goalie battle won by Jacob Markstrom, the Canucks packed their bags for a quick weekend 2-game road trip. Tonight, they faced off against a San Jose Sharks team that has thus far not met lofty expectations. After making the Western Conference finals in May, the Sharks have sunk to a 15-17-2 start with a -28 goal differential in the tough Pacific Division standings, 4 points back of the Canucks, who were 3rd in the Wild Card standings, three points back of the Vegas Golden Knights, who they will face 22 hours after the puck drops on this one, at the start of play Saturday. Prior to the game, Sven Baertschi’s agent revealed that the embattled Canuck wants a trade. Quite frankly, one can hardly blame him for wanting to play for a team that wants to play him in the NHL. Michael Ferland was placed back on IR with post-concussion syndrome. Expect the team to be extra cautious with his recovery. The Canucks welcomed back Brandon Sutter, who made his return to the lineup after missing a month and two days and 13 games with a groin strain. Zack MacEwen took a seat next to Loui Eriksson and the injured Tyler Motte, who traveled with the team as he draws closer to his return to the lineup from a broken foot, in the press box. The Canucks swapped spare defensemen as well, returning Jalen Chatfield to Utica and recalling Guillaume Brisebois. The Canucks stuck with the red-hot Jacob Markstrom in goal after his epic 43-save shutout two nights ago. Could the Canucks make it two wins in a row? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Sharks opened the scoring just under 11 minutes into the game as Thomas Hertl ripped a cross-ice feed past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom
  • The Sharks added a goal just over seven minutes into the 3rd period as Timo Meier snapped a one-timer top corner on Markstrom
  • Forty-eight seconds later, Jake Virtanen picked the far corner on Sharks goalie Aaron Dell
  • Almost 11 minutes later, Evander Kane stuffed one into the empty net to restore the two goal cushion
  • Fifty-two seconds later, Bo Horvat was johnny on the spot to stuff a rebound by Dell
  • Twenty-one seconds later, Logan Couture sealed the deal with an empty-netter
  • Jacob Markstrom stopped 23/25 shots
  • Final score: Sharks 4 Canucks 2

My Take:

  • A game after an epic 43-save shutout, Markstrom was beaten twice and had no chance on either shot. He looked strong tonight and had a relatively quiet night, facing just 25 shots. Markstrom could start the 2nd half of the back-to-back. The Canucks need to keep winning to keep pace in a tight Western conference and even tighter Pacific division. The good news is, the Canucks have a couple of games in hand on the teams in the Pacific division
  • Brock Boeser played in front of his new nephew and got an assist on the late Horvat goal.
  • The Canucks PP looked out of sorts a bit tonight. They were 0-3 with 6 shots on goal in the 3 attempts. Teams are starting to get more aggressive on the Canucks players, forcing turnovers
  • Jake Virtanen was the only Canuck to finish on the positive side of the +/- stat. Boeser, Miller, and Pettersson were all -2 on the night. You have to take this stat with a grain of salt a bit because you can get a – if the opponent scores and you have literally just stepped on the ice.
  • In his return to the Canucks lineup, Brandon Sutter played 10:28, was -1, threw a hit and blocked a shot. His return takes pressure off Bo Horvat in the faceoff circle. Sutter is good at faceoffs and will take some of the key draws. He’s also a solid penalty killer and is among the most experienced NHLers on the team, having just surpassed 700 games a couple of games prior to the latest injury setback.
  • Speaking of faceoffs, the Canucks dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 63% of the draws tonight, led by Boeser, who won every draw he took. JT Miller (77% success rate), Jay Beagle (70% success rate) and Bo Horvat (65% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks had 11 hits tonight, led by Tim Schaller and Oscar Fantenberg, who both had a pair of hits
  • The Canucks blocked 11 shots, led by Jordie Benn, Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers, who each blocked a pair of shots
  • Up next, the Canucks fly to Vegas where they will have a quick turnaround with a 5pm start time. Traditionally the backup plays the back end of a back-to-back. However, as mentioned above, Markstrom wasn’t overly busy tonight, so the team may opt to play him. Tyler Motte could also return to the lineup. If he is fit to return, Zack MacEwen will likely be sent back to Utica and either Adam Gaudette or Tim Schaller, who both played under ten minutes tonight, will join Loui Eriksson and Guillaume Brisebois in the press box as healthy scratches. The Canucks and Golden Knights will also play in Vancouver on Thursday.
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