Tonight the Canucks kicked off the final home stand of the season facing the Ottawa Senators (the opponent of yours truly’s first NHL game at the Pacific Coliseum way back in 1994). The Canucks and Senators both came into tonight’s tilt riding 2 game winning streaks. Anders Nilsson got the start against his old team. Since the trade to Ottawa, 10-9 with a 2.85GAA and .917save% in 20 games (19 of them starts). It is probably a combination of a better match with his goalie coach and playing behind a different defense. Jacob Markstrom got the start for the Canucks and is likely to continue doing so, at least until the Canucks are mathematically eliminated. I can also see Travis Green sending out the same lineup as long as the team keeps winning. The Canucks playoff hopes remain on life support but depending on how things play out over the weekend, there’s a very slight chance the Canucks could be one point back of the second wild card spot heading into the final 2 weeks of the season, but they’ll be relying on other teams to beat the teams around them (Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota and Chicago are all currently above the Canucks, who are currently 6 points back of the second wild card spot). Could the Canucks keep the playoff dream alive with a win? Here is tonight’s game recap.
- The Canucks opened the scoring just over 14 minutes into the 1st period as Bo Horvat whipped home a wrist shot past a screened Anders Nilsson for a rare power play marker
- Tanner Pearson doubled the lead thirty-two seconds into the 2nd period, batting home a bouncing puck
- Just under five and a half minutes later, Jake Virtanen picked up the puck in the neutral zone, wheeled in and snapped a hard wrist shot by Nilsson
- With three minutes left in the period, Brock Boeser snapped a low hard wrister just under the glove of Nilsson for the Canucks second PP goal of the game
- Fifty-seven seconds into the 3rd period, Tanner Pearson tipped home a centering feed by Horvat
- The Senators got on the board just over eight minutes later, as Max Veronneau redirected a pass by Dylan DeMelo by Jacob Markstrom
- Just over a minute later, Brady Tkachuk stuffed the puck behind Markstrom off a centering feed by Jean-Gabriel Pageau
- Just under four minutes later, Oscar Lindberg whipped a one-timer past the glove of Markstrom
- Just under four and a half minutes later, Anthony Dulcair wristed one on net that glanced off the glove of Markstrom and in
- Fifty-two seconds later Bo Horvat tipped home a point shot by Alex Edler
- Just under thirty seconds after that Loui Eriksson scored into an empty net to seal the game
- Jacob Markstrom stopped 21/25 shots
- Final score: Canucks 7 Senators 4
- Wow. What a wild game! After two periods, the Canucks looked like they were going to crush the Senators with a 4-0 lead, 5-0 a minute into the 3rd period. Then Ottawa got a goal off poor defensive coverage and it was like they smelled blood. They struck three more times in the next ten minutes and all of a sudden the Canucks lead was down to one with a couple of minutes left. Just when it looked like a blown five goal lead was inevitable, Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Wolanin took a Brock Boesser clearing attempt off the face and play was blown dead. It was like a time out without a time out because immediately after the ensuing faceoff, the Canucks scored to restore the two goal lead and Loui Eriksson ended any hope of an even more insane comeback with an empty-netter
- The game shouldn’t have ended the way it did. Three of the four goals were self-inflicted errors the Canucks have been prone to most of the season: poor defensive coverage leaving players wide open. Going forward, the Canucks need to address this issue. You have to be in good position and tie up opponents’ sticks. NHL players won’t miss too many pucks when left unchecked
- Loui Eriksson might have had his best game in a Canucks uniform. The Canucks winger had a goal and three assists and blocked a shot. It is the potential for Eriksson to have this kind of night that the Canucks keep inserting him in the lineup.
- As motivated as Anders Nilsson must have been to have a good night facing his former team, it was clear the Canucks were even more motivated to have a good night against him. Sadly, the former Canuck had the kind of night that made him expendable just a couple of months ago.
- The Canucks won 60% of the draws tonight, led by Jay Beagle, who won a whopping 82% of the draws he took. Bo Horvat (62% success rate), and Brock Boeser and Markus Granlund, who both won 50% of their draws, also had good nights in the faceoff circle.
- The Canucks landed 21 hits, led by Luke Schenn, who had 6 hits.
- The Canucks blocked 11 shots tonight, led by Alex Edler, Jake Virtanen, Troy Stetcher and Alex Biega, who all blocked a pair of shots tonight
- Up next, the Canucks face off against division rivals Calgary Flames. The Canucks have won two of the first three meetings and will be looking to carry on towards achieving the impossible: winning out and POSSIBLY making the playoffs. However, before Canucks fans get their hopes up, they need help with other teams beating the teams that need to lose. The Canucks are not guaranteed to make the playoffs by solely winning their remaining games. Expect Travis Green to stick with this lineup that has won three in a row, save for the goalies, either until the Canucks are mathematically eliminated or an injury forces a change. Hold onto your hats Canucks fans, we’re in for a wild ride!