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Game #35 – Montreal Canadiens (16-12-6) @ Vancouver Canucks (16-15-4) – game recap

After a rough weekend where the Canucks were swept and badly outplayed in a weekend road trip, the Canucks returned home with the hopes that their fortune will change in front of a friendly crowd. Things got tougher in the Pacific division Monday with Taylor Hall being acquired by the division-leading Arizona Coyotes. The Canucks also shuffled healthy scratch defenseman, sending Guillaume Brisebois back to Utica and recalling Jalen Chatfield. At the morning skate, the Canucks put their top three lines in a blender. Antoine Roussel rejoined Bo Horvat, who he’s had chemistry with in the past, alongside the struggling Brock Boeser. Jake Virtanen was skating with JT Miller and Elias Pettersson. Tanner Pearson with skating with Adam Gaudette and Josh Leivo. Last time major changes like this, they didn’t stay that way for more than a couple of shifts. Jacob Markstrom was between the pipes and will likely remain that way until Thatcher Demko is ready to return. Could the Canucks start the week before Christmas with a win? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Canucks opened the scoring with 99 seconds left in the 1st period as Adam Gaudette snapped a shot past a screened Carey Price for a PP marker
  • The Habs tied the game just over 8 minutes into the 2nd period as Nick Cousins beat Jacob Markstrom with a quick snap shot
  • Several minutes after that, Gaudette’s second of the game was overturned due to offside
  • The Habs also had a goal called back towards the end of the period after a Habs player fell on Markstrom and he couldn’t recover in time to make the save
  • The Habs took the lead just under two minutes into the 3rd period on a brilliant diving effort by Phillip Danault. Tomas Tatar finished things off, beating Markstrom with a backhand-forehand deke for a PP marker
  • Ninety-four seconds later, Shea Weber snuck in from the point and whipped a one-timer by a diving Markstrom for a PP marker
  • Jacob Markstrom stopped 27/30 shots
  • Final Score: Canadiens 3 Canucks 1

My take:

  • Special teams was a big difference tonight with the Habs PP striking twice early in the 3rd period. Montreal did a good job of pressuring the Canucks after sending the puck down the ice. Effectively, the aggressiveness took away the drop pass and forced Quinn Hughes to find options laterally or up the ice. The final three minutes of the game was essentially a power play for the Canucks with Markstrom pulled. I felt that there were a couple of opportunities where the Canucks should have shot the puck instead of passing. At the very least, a shot would have created a rebound.
  • Jacob Markstrom was better tonight, although he’ll want the first 2 goals back. Zero chance on the Weber goal. I feel bad that Marky pretty much has to play perfectly for the Canucks to win lately.
  • The Canucks have now lost 8 straight overall to the Habs and it’s guaranteed to be 5 years between home wins against the Habs (unless the NHL schedules Montreal’s road trip to Vancouver before October 27th next season
  • Brock Boeser looks like he’s lost his confidence.
  • The Canucks positive goal differential is shrinking fast. After tonight’s loss, the Canucks have scored three more goals than they have allowed. On a similar note, the Canucks are now just a game above .500.
  • The Canucks won 48% of the faceoffs, led by Josh Leivo, who won every draw he took. JT Miller (75% success rate) and Bo Horvat (50% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks outhit the Habs 20-19, led by Tyler Motte, who had 5 hits
  • The Canucks blocked 8 shots, led by Oscar Fantenberg, who blocked 3 shots
  • Up next, the Canucks look to exact revenge against a Vegas Golden Knights team that is catching fire, winning their third straight over the Minnesota Wild tonight. The Canucks shooters will have to overcome Fleury, who has played the Canucks tough every year but his first 2 in the league. The Canucks will need to be much better than they were on Sunday if they want to prevail.
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