The Canucks returned home after a week-long 5 game road trip that ended better than it started. After being run out of Florida with a pair of lopsided losses, the Canucks played three of the better games they played this season, prevailing in Buffalo and Minnesota and falling for the umpteenth time in Winnipeg. Tonight, the Canucks began a three-game homestand that will take them through the all-star break and first game after the bye week. The Canucks will then embark on another five game trip after which time it will be Sedin week. Tonight’s opponent was the Pacific Division leading Arizona Coyotes, who won all four games in the season series last year. The last time the Canucks beat Arizona was the Sedins last home game of their careers. Since acquiring Taylor Hall a month ago, the Coyotes are 7-6 in 13 games. Tonight was mental health awareness night. The Canucks tragically lost ex-teammate Rick Rypien August 15, 2011 when he took his own life. This initiative is important to me as I suffer from depression and anxiety myself. The Canucks made one key change to the lineup with Brandon Sutter returning after missing last 13 with a back injury and the last 25 of 28. This was Sutter’s 23rd game of the season. Tim Schaller took a seat in the press box. The rest of the lineup was the same as the last 6 games. Jacob Markstrom started his 4th straight game. Could the Canucks win this crucial divisional game? Here is tonight’s game recap.
- The Canucks had a goal called back 105 seconds into the game because of an offside
- The Coyotes opened the scoring 8 minutes into the game as Christian Dvorak whipped a quick one-timer off a centering feed past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom
- Eight minutes later, Bo Horvat was johnny on the spot to deposit a rebound past Coyotes goalie Adin Hill
- The Canucks took the lead just under sixteen minutes into the second period as Jake Virtanen tucked a wraparound behind Hill
- The Canucks added an empty-netter with 45 seconds left in the game on a fantastic effort by Loui Eriksson to outhustle and outmuscle the oncoming Coyotes defender before unselfishly dishing off to teammate Tanner Pearson so he could score his 100th career goal
- Jacob Markstrom stopped 34/35 shots
- Final score: Canucks 3 Coyotes 1
- Don’t look now, but Loui Eriksson is quietly redeeming himself after sitting in the press box a good chunk of the first 2 months of the season. In his last 14 games, he has 4 goals, 3 assists (all primary, a 0.5PPG and 51.53CF%. He and Bo Horvat are like peanut butter and jelly together. Their playing styles just work together. At the very least, the strong play might hopefully coax a buyer to take Eriksson’s hefty contract off the books. Worse case, this is a line that could be key in the playoffs.
- Jacob Markstrom had yet another all-star-like game, stopping 34/35 shots, including 11 in the 3rd period when the Coyotes were pressing to tie the game. At this point, you almost have to keep playing Markstrom every game especially with a mere 2 points separating 1st from 5th in the Pacific division.
- It was great to see the Canucks win the first match-up of the season between the two squads, especially since the Canucks were swept in the season series last year. This win should give the Canucks confidence against a pesky Coyotes team
- One player absent from the Coyotes lineup tonight, who absolutely killed the Canucks last year was Brad Richardson. The former Canucks center beat the Canucks all by himself in one of the four games last year with a 4-goal effort
- The power play had a solid game tonight and should have converted twice (they hit the post three times in their first opportunity before finally having Horvat stuff a rebound home. The Canucks penalty killing unit was also excellent, holding the Coyotes to 2 shots in 2 PP opportunities.
- It was an emotional ceremonial faceoff before the game with Rick Rypien’s Wes and his son Luke taking part in the annual hockey talks mental health night. Nothing can bring back Rick, but his legacy will live on forever thanks to this initiative started by his brother Wes.
- The Canucks won 51% of the faceoffs led by Brandon Sutter, who won every faceoff he took. Jay Beagle (62% success rate), Bo Horvat (60% success rate) and Adam Gaudette (57% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle.
- The Canucks had 16 hits, led by Alex Edler, who banged out 3 hits
- The Canucks blocked 10 shots, led by Chris Tanev, who blocked 3 shots
- Up next, the Canucks wrap up the pre-all-star break schedule with a tilt against the San Jose Sharks, another team that tends to give the Canucks fits, although they scored a huge 5-2 win their first meeting of the season. However, more recently, they were doubled up by the Sharks 4-2, back on December 14. Both of the first 2 games were in San Jose. Saturday will also be the annual Chinese New Year celebration. The Canucks will be wearing their traditional red warm-up uniforms that night.