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game #59 Vancouver Canucks (26-26-7) @ LA Kings (23-28-6) – game recap

After a tough 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks last night, the Canucks were back at it facing the LA Kings, who came into this one dead last in the Western Conference and 5-3-2 in their last ten games. It was prudent that the Canucks not take LA lightly as they did with Anaheim last night. Jake Virtanen and Chris Tanev were both missing from tonight’s lineup after suffering separate upper body (Virtanen) and ankle (Tanev) injuries. Tanev missed the final 14 minutes of the game last night and Virtanen finished the game but did not look right. Tanev was sent home and subsequently placed on the IR. Virtanen was undergoing an MRI to determine the extent of his injury. Meanwhile, Brandon Sutter will be sidelined at least a couple of weeks and potentially more. Jacob Markstrom got the start in net. Guillaume Brisebois and Nikolay Goldobin drew into the lineup. Brisebois was making his NHL debut. Could the Canucks snap the 2 game losing streak and #beatLA? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Canucks opened the scoring 12:22 into the 1st period as Elias Pettersson rifled a shot top corner for a PP goal
  • Eight seconds later, the Kings tied the game off the faceoff at center ice as Austin Wagner grabbed the loose puck and snapped one over the glove of Jacob Markstrom
  • The Canucks took the lead 9:46 into the 2nd period as Brock Boeser slammed home a centering feed by Adam Gaudette past a sprawling Jonathan Quick
  • Just over three and a half minutes later, the Kings tied it again as Michael Amadio was johnny on the spot to stuff a bad rebound by Markstrom’s outstretched glove
  • The Kings took the lead just under e;even minutes into the 3rd period as an Alec Martinez point shot deflected in off the stick of Zack MacEwen
  • The Canucks tied it with just under ninety seconds left in the game as Pettersson made a sneaky one touch pass to Adam Gaudette, who ripped it by Quick
  • Brock Boeser scored the winning goal in the shootout
  • Jacob Markstrom stopped 37 of 41 shots, including two of three in the shootout
  • Final score: Canucks 4 Kings 3 shootout win

My Take:

  • In some ways I liked the way the Canucks responded after getting shutout the night before (they took the lead twice). However, I did not like their response after scoring the first two goals. On the first one, the Kings tied the game a mere 8 seconds after taking the lead. On the second goal, the Kings immediately pressured the Canucks and eventually scored three and a half minutes later. You have to be ready to respond after a goal, whether you score or the opposition scores and the Canucks clearly weren’t ready in either case. Unfortunately, rookie Guillaume Brisebois was more or less benched after being on the ice for both of the aforementioned goals. Brisebois finished the night -2 with 2 hits and a blocked shot in 9:24 of ice time. Unfortunately Quinn Hughes is about a month away from joining the Canucks and Alex Edler won’t be ready to return right away when the Canucks come home from the road trip as he’ll surely require at least one practice. Chris Tanev’s return is up in the air until he is further evaluated.
  • Troy Stetcher had another busy minute-munching night, playing 31:24, including 5 hard minutes on the penalty kill. He has responded well to the coach’s confidence in him, collecting an assist, three shots on goal and an eve rating.
  • Erik Gudbranson had a tough night in the office as he was on the ice for all three Kings goals and was indirectly responsible for the 3rd goal after losing a puck battle in the corner. Gudbranson is 3rd in the league for being on the ice for the most goals against (minimum 300 minutes). Drew Doughty was 2nd on the list (heading into tonight, he had been on the ice for 84 goals against).
  • Really impressed by Markstrom (stood on his head and was clutch in overtime, which the Kings controlled, and the shootout), Elias Pettersson (another multi-point night, his 13th of the season, putting him 5 behind Pavel Bure; scored in his second straight shootout) and Adam Gaudette (beautiful setup of Brock Boeser goal and smart play to tie the game late in the 3rd period)
  • The Canucks won 61% of the draws tonight, led by Brock Boeser and Adam Gaudette, who were both perfect in the faceoff circle. Jay Beagle (65% success rate) and Bo Horvat (64% success rate) both had strong bounce-back nights after terrible nights in Anaheim last night. Beagle won just 4 of 11 draws in Anaheim, while Horvat had a 44% success rate last night. Faceoffs are such a crucial aspect of hockey as the team that wins the faceoffs, generally control the play and the team losing the draws have to fight to get it back, and often wind up chasing the game.
  • It was great to see the Canucks score a PP goal tonight as the unit has been struggling mightily. The penalty killing unit continued it’s excellent run of late, holding the Kings off the scoreboard in their three PP opportunities, thanks in large part to Markstrom stopping all seven shots he faced while the Kings had the man advantage.
  • The Canucks landed 20 hits, led by Erik Gudbranson, who had 4 hits tonight.
  • The Canucks had 11 blocked shots, led by Nikolay Goldobin, who blocked 3 shots tonight.
  • The win moves the Canucks back into a tie for the 2nd WC spot with Minnesota, who have two games in hand on the Canucks and are set to face the NJ Devils, who aren’t exactly world beaters this season. Due to the Wild having one more regulation win, the Canucks cannot finish tied in points after 82 games as Minny would get the WC spot due to more regulation wins. Unfortunately this means the Canucks do not control their own fate and must rely on other teams beating Minnesota. St. Louis, winners of 8 straight, are starting to pull away from the pack.
  • Up next, the Canucks wrap up the road trip with a rematch of Monday’s abysmal game, where they hung 19 year old goalie prospect Mike Dipietro out to dry. They will need to be significantly better in front of Markstrom if they want to prevail in the latest must-win game. Hopefully the Canucks get some good news on the injury front and Jake Virtanen is fit to return,


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