The Canucks opened play in 2020 tonight riding a five-game winning streak. They also reached the halfway point of their schedule. Vancouver goes into the new season as healthy as they’ve been in years at this point in the season. Just three players are on the injured reserve (Brandon Sutter, Josh Leivo and Michael Ferland). The free agents they picked up in the off-season have had mixed results. Tyler Myers has slowly improved as he adjusted to a new team/system. He’s been solid as a breakout player with crisp passes. Myers has 13 points and is -2 over the 1st 40 games. Jordie Benn has found himself a healthy scratch after starting the season on the team’s 3rd pairing and with Oscar Fantenberg missing the first several weeks with a concussion and illness. Fantenberg has been steady playing a simple game. Ferland has major health concerns with concussions. When healthy, Ferland is expected to be a protector in the lineup. The biggest off-season move was the trade acquisition of JT Miller, who has been excellent in faceoffs. Miller is 3rd on the team in scoring with 36 points (14G 22A) playing primarily with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, who have 41 and 38 points on the season respectively. Jacob Markstrom has established another level in his game, using the loss of his father as motivation to focus on his game. Backup Thatcher Demko has been leading rookie goalies in most statistical categories, despite missing ten days with a concussion. The biggest difference between this year and last year has been much better health, meaning icing largely the same lineup night after night. Save for ten games, the Canucks had the same defensive pairings all season. That’s huge to be playing with the same partner and line mates. The Canucks went with the same lineup that faced Calgary three nights ago, except Jacob Markstrom was back in net. Could the Canucks open 2020 with a win and make it 6 in a row? Here is tonight’s game recap.
- The Canucks opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game as JT Miller tipped a Bo Horvat shot past Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner
- Just under nine minutes later, The Blackhawks tied the game as Connor Murphy hammered home a slapper shortside on Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom
- The Canucks retook the lead almost three minutes into the 2nd period on a howitzer from the point by Tanner Pearson
- Eighty-seven seconds later, David Kampf snapped one past a screened Markstrom
- Just over two minutes later, Patrick Kane blasted a one-timer home for a PP marker
- Just under two minutes later, Jonathan Toews tipped a centering feed over the blocker of Markstrom
- Just over two minutes later, the Canucks got one back as Quinn Hughes hammered a one-timer through a crowd for a PP marker
- Eighty-five seconds later, Elias Pettersson beat Lehner with a devastating hard and accurate wrist shot from the top of the slot
- The Canucks retook the lead just over eight months into the 3rd period as a Bo Horvat centering feed deflected in off a Blackhawks defender. Pearson got his 100th career assist on the goal
- Just over five and a half minutes later, Kane snapped it through the wickets of Markstrom
- Just over two minutes later, Adam Gaudette wheeled into the slot and snapped it by Lehner
- Horvat sealed the game with an empty-netter with nine seconds left in the game
- Jacob Markstrom stopped 28/33 shots
- Final score: Canucks 7 Blackhawks 5
- A goaltending duel this was not. The Canucks and Blackhawks rang in the new year with an old-fashioned shootout with a dozen goals between the two teams on the night. After a tight 1st period with both teams tallying, the game really opened up in the 2nd period with the two teams combining for 6 goals in just under nine minutes and there being 31 shots in the period with the Canucks outshooting the Blackhawks 18-13. All of the goals were scored within a couple of minutes of each other. The Canucks also controlled play in the 3rd period, outshooting the Blackhawks 12-8 and more importantly outscoring Chicago 3-1 with captain Bo Horvat scoring two of the three goals in the period. Both goalies will want several of the goals back.
- The turning point in the game might have been the Canucks calling a timeout after the Blackhawks scoring their third straight goal. It gave the team a chance to regroup and within four minutes the two-goal deficit was erased. The Canucks showed another level in the 3rd period after a longer time out (intermission)
- The penalty kill got a huge kill late in the game. Oddly enough, the Blackhawks opted not to make it a 6-on-4 by pulling the goalie.
- Bo Horvat was in beast mode tonight with a pair of goals an assist, +4 rating (best on either team), 9 shots on goal, 3 blocked shots and a forced turnover and a 59% suscess rate in the faceoff circle
- JT Miller also had a strong game with a goal, three assists, 4 shots on goal, +1 rating and 3 hits
- The Canucks won 53% of the draws, led by Jay Beagle, who won 71% of the draws he took. Adam Gaudette (67% success rate), Horvat (59% success rate) and Brock Boeser (50% success rate) also had strong nights in the faceoff circle
- The Canucks outhit the Blackhawks 24-14, led by Tyler Motte, who had 4 hits
- The Canucks blocked 17 shots, led by Alex Edler, who blocked 4 shots
- Up next, it’s 90’s night as the Canucks honor the teams/players from the 90’s against the NY Rangers, who Vancouver lost to in seven games in the Stanley Cup final in 1994. Yours truly will be in the crowd and I will try to live tweet. Expect the Canucks to roll with the same lineup that just won it’s 6th straight game tonight