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Game #37 Pittsburgh Penguins (21-11-4) @ Vancouver Canucks (18-15-4) – game recap

Two nights after surviving a crazy 5-4 OT win over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Canucks faced an even stiffer test vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat the Canucks in a wild combined 14 goal game a couple of weeks ago. The Canucks are at the halfway point of the current home stand with one game left Monday before enjoying a much-needed five-day break. The Canucks got bad news that Josh Leivo will miss the next 2-3 month with a fractured kneecap. Loui Eriksson drew back into the lineup and Zack MacEwen was recalled and was the extra forward tonight On a positive note, three of the injured players (Michael Ferland, Alex Edler and Thatcher Demko) all hit the ice Saturday and could return either late this year or early next year. Brandon Sutter appears to be further behind with his recovery from an upper body injury. Jacob Markstrom got the start in goal. Could the Canucks pass two stiff tests in a row? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Canucks opened the scoring just over 15 minutes into the game as Jake Virtanen wheeled into the high slot and wired one past Pens goalie Matt Murray for a PP marker. Antoine Roussel got his 100th career assist on the goal
  • Just under a minutes later, JT Miller reached out and tipped a centering feed by Murray
  • The Canucks held the Penguins shotless in the 1st period
  • The Pens got one back just under fifteen and a half minutes into the 2nd period as Jake Guentzel was johnny on the spot to jam a rebound past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom for a PP marker
  • Thirty-four seconds later, Elias Pettersson was johnny on the spot to snipe a rebound top corner, while falling, on Murray
  • The Canucks added a goal fourteen and a half minutes into the 3rd period as Brock Boeser sniped a one-timer far side on Murray
  • Jacob Markstrom stopped 28/29 shots
  • Final score: Canucks 4 Penguins 1

My Take:

  • This might have been the Canucks best game of the season. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one and held the Pens without a shot in the opening period. After the Pens scored in the 2nd period, the Canucks answered back the next shift. The Canucks may have had their lowest shot total of the season, but they made their shots count. The Canucks beat the Penguins in every statistical category tonight. This is a great response after winning a game two nights ago they easily could have lost late.
  • Jacob Markstrom had a strong game in net, stopping 28/29 shots. You could see how fired up he was late in the game when the Pens were pressing with their net empty. Markstrom came up with a huge glove save after Jake Virtanen’s line was hemmed in their own zone for over a minute
  • Not to nitpick, but one move the Canucks cold make Monday is putting Loui Eriksson back in the press box. The embattled Canucks winger was held off the score sheet completely. Doing absolutely nothing in 9:16 of ice time tonight
  • Jake Virtanen was sure getting under the skin of Evgeni Malkin tonight, playing the Penguins forward hard every shift. Malkin was held to an assist, three shots on goal and a pair of takeaways tonight.
  • The Canucks won 65% of the draws, led by JT Miller, who won 89% of the draws he took. Adam Gaudette (88% success rate), Bo Horvat (60% success rate), Jay Beagle (56% success rate) and Tyler Motte (50% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks outhit the Penguins 33-15, led by Miller and Virtanen, who both had 5 hits
  • The Canucks blocked 25 shots, led by Horva, who blocked 6 shots
  • Up next, the Canucks play their final game before a five day break for Christmas against the Edmonton Oilers. It’s likely the Canucks will go with the same lineup Monday that has won two games in a row.
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