After a well-deserved week-long break with the bye week and the all-star game, the Canucks resumed play tonight with a good test against the defending Stanley Cup Champs St. Louis Blues, who have been looking like strong contenders to repeat this season. The Canucks and Blues split the first two games of the season series with both games going to extra time. After tonight’s game, the Canucks hit the road for five games, starting in San Jose Wednesday night followed by stops in NY (to face the Islanders), Boston, Carolina and Minnesota. When the Canucks return home, they will be honoring the Sedins and raising their jersey to the rafters. Antoine Roussel played his 500th career game tonight. The Canucks iced the same lineup as the one that got the big win that secured 1st place in the Pacific Division heading into the break. Thatcher Demko got the start in net. Could the Canucks make it three wins in a row and nine straight home wins for the first time since 1992? Here is tonight’s game recap.
- The Blues opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game as Zach Sanford whacked a centering feed past Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko
- The Canucks tied the game just over 2 minutes into the 2nd period as JT Miller snapped one low glove side on Blues goalie Jake Allen
- Just under nine minutes later, Jake Virtanen found Miller with a brilliant cross-ice feed and Miller buried the gift pass
- The Canucks added an empty-netter with one second left after some brilliant work along the boards by Loui Eriksson who deked past 2 Blues defenders and found Bo Horvat who beat the buzzer
- Thatcher Demko stopped 36/37 shots
- Final score: Canucks 3 Blues 1
- Thatcher Demko played what might have been his best game of the season, stopping 36/37 shots. One of his best saves came in the 3rd period when he went post to post to rob Jaden Schwartz. Demko also stopped 16 shots in the 2nd period to keep the Canucks in the lead. He’s made the goalie decision difficult for Travis Green to kick off the road trip
- Jake Virtanen had a huge game with a pair of assists, 2 shots on goal, a hit, and a blocked shot
- One line I felt was largely ineffective was the 4th line. Jay Beagle, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte got caught on long shifts because of an inability to clear the puck
- The Canucks won 61% of the draws, led by JT Miller, who won 73% of the draws he took. Bo Horvat (70% success rate) and Jay Beagle (64% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
- The Canucks landed 21 hits, led by Tyler Motte, who banged out 6 hits tonight
- The Canucks blocked 23 shots, led by Miller, Beagle, Oscar Fantenberg, and Alex Edler, who all blocked 3 shots
- Up next, the Canucks hit the road for a five game, ten day trip starting in San Jose two nights from now. The Canucks defeated the Sharks with a solid all-around game to go into the bye week/all-star break. The Sharks were immersed in a 3-game losing streak when play began tonight, but they were well on their way to a win with a three goal lead over Anaheim with under 5 minutes left at the publishing of this recap. Like the Canucks, the Sharks are better at home than they are on the road. It’s expected the Canucks will continue to ice the same lineup as long as this good play continues, barring injuries. The only expected change will be in goal where Jacob Markstrom should be back between the pipes after almost 2 weeks off between starts.