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Game #68 Vancouver Canucks (28-31-9) @ Edmonton Oilers (30-30-7) – game recap

After a huge come from behind win over the much-hated Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canucks traveled to Edmonton this morning for a quick one day road trip. Sam Gagner was facing the Canucks for the 1st time since being traded to Edmonton prior to the trade deadline. Unfortunately, Ryan Spooner was unable to face his former team as he was still suffering from a nagging groin injury. The Canucks lineup was the same as the one that faced Toronto last night, except Thatcher Demko got the start in goal. Could the Canucks win their 2nd straight game and keep their playoff aspirations alive? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Oilers opened the scoring 5:21 into the 1st period as Derrick Pouliot was completely unable to handle ex-Canuck Sam Gagner who hit a wide open Steve Chaisson in the slot, who made no mistake rifling one past Thatcher Demko
  • Just under nine minutes later, Zack Kassian redirected a Connor McDavid centering pass through Demko’s five-hole
  • The Oilers added a goal just over a minute into the 2nd period as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tipped home a backhander by Connor McDavid
  • The Canucks got one back with ninety seconds left in the period as Jay Beagle deftly poked home a loose puck in the crease
  • The Canucks got one back just over seven minutes into the 3rd period and just after a Canucks PP ended as Alex Edler wristed one from the point through traffic and past Mikko Koskinen. The goal survived a goaltender interference challenge by the Oilers
  • Thatcher Demko stopped 31 of 34 shots tonight
  • Final score: Oilers 3 Canucks 2

My Take:

  • The Canucks were burned by three different players with BC connections (ex-Canuck Gagner did all the work on the opening goal, ex-Canuck Kassian scored the second Oilers goal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got the final goal for Edmonton)
  • Thatcher Demko had a much better game than last week, stopping 31 Oilers shots to keep his team in it. None of the three goals were his fault (two scored by players left wide open and one scored on a perfect deflection)
  • The dreaded drop pass reared it’s ugly head on a few occasions, wasting valuable time on power plays and in the final minute when the Canucks needed to get the puck up the ice. The Canucks were 0-4 on the power play and managed 5 shots on goal. Whoever (coach) runs the power play next year, they need to eliminate the drop pass. It’s a predictable play and teams are starting to catch on. Also, more movement to create shooting lanes must be emphasized. The Canucks have talented players who can score, but they are not translating with the man advantage
  • Once again, the Canucks failed to get pucks on net! Sure, 37 shots made it to Koskinen, but the Oilers blocked a further 31 shots. Surely if a few of these shots get through, at least one finds the back of the net. Conversely, the Canucks blocked 12 Oilers shots, led by Alex Edler, who is showing he deserves to be re-signed by the Canucks with strong games the past 2 nights. Tonight, he scored a huge goal to get the Canucks within one, had 5 shots on goal, 4 hits, and forced a turnover. Unfortunately, he was -1 on the night, but that stat is misleading at the best of times.
  • The Canucks landed 27 hits, led by Edler and Derrick Pouliot, who each had 4 hits
  • The Canucks won 55%, led by Josh Leivo and Markus Granlund, who both won every draw they took. Elias Pettersson (63% success rate), Jay Beagle (60% success rate), Bo Horvat (54% success rate) and Brock Boeser (50% success rate) also had strong nights in the faceoff circle.
  • Up next, the Canucks head back home to face the Vegas Golden Knights, where Vancouver will be looking to avenge a shutout from a week ago in what might have been their worst game of the season. Jacob Markstrom will be back in net after getting the night off tonight.
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