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THE SKINNY

For a game that started out with literally nothing to talk about it ended with a bang! Tonight, the Canucks were tested yet again and they answered the call. Despite the Penguins being without a handful of their top players, they haven’t been pushovers. Vancouver knew they’d have to bring their A-game against a Pittsburgh team that owned the Oilers one night earlier and did they ever.

It’s been a long, long time since the Penguins have been held without a shot in the first period but the Canucks managed to do just that tonight. The shots were 5-0 after the first but the Canucks and their happy feet put up a few to get the early lead.

This game had a number of penalties and each team took a high-sticking double minor that resulted in a goal. Jacob Markstrom was all-world tonight and deserved to be the first star, even though he wasn’t announced as such.

Vancouver held the Penguins to a single goal, all the stars for the Canucks were spotlighted and produced and the end result was a second-straight win for the blue and green.

Let’s see how we got there.

SHOTS

VAN – 14 / PIT – 29

BRINGING THE HEAT

There weren’t a lot of amoebas to talk about for the Canucks tonight but they made the most of their chances. Pittsburgh did a lot of work in front of the net tonight but Jacob Markstrom just wouldn’t allow a thing.

That heat map above looks like the Zamboni missed a few spots in the Canucks offensive zone.

SURF’S UP (RIDE THE WAVE, GO WITH THE FLOW)

What started as a chess match ended up being target practice for the Penguins. There’s a common theme tonight and Markstrom is the reason this one didn’t get ugly.

THE BREAKDOWN

Puck drop – Vancouver played the Penguins smart in the first period and somehow held the Penguins without a shot in the first!

That wasn’t the only thing that was interesting. Adam Gaudette was the victim of an errant high stick, he bled so much blood, just horrific. Double-minor. Brandon Tanev takes a holding penalty and just like that it’s 5 on 3. J.T. Miller scored a beauty on the PP but it was disallowed due to offsides.

That’s OK because Vancouver got a redo. The Penguins took yet ANOTHER penalty but the NHL hasn’t allowed 5 on 2’s yet so it remained a lopsided power play. And wouldn’t you know it, it was time to #shotgunjake from there:

Virtanen put everything in that shot and that would have been worth the price of admission. Miller had a chip on his shoulder after getting his first disallowed so he tried it again and bingo, bango, bongo… wait that’s a Loui line. Here’s what happened:

CANUCKS up 2-0 after the first.

 

Period 2

The second period wasn’t so kind to the Canucks on the shot clock as the Penguins peppered Jacob Markstrom for over 20 shots while Vancouver managed five. If Markstrom isn’t in on this one, the Canucks may have turtled:

Pittsburgh got their payback with their own four-minute power play and Jake Guentzel put one away:

But you didn’t come here for Penguins coverage, how did Elias Pettersson top this play? He scored a goal in tight with man-coverage:

J.T. Miller made a great play back to Tyler Myers to get this one started and Pettersson made sure it ended the way it did.

Oscar Fantenberg takes a late penalty but that’s ok.

Canucks up 3-1 after two frames.

 

THE FINAL FRAME

Canucks kill off the penalty, Jacob Markstrom continues his dominance in the game and Miller threw a massive hit

I could watch that for hours. They made me write this out so I’ll do that later.

Back to the hockey.

It took a while but Prince Brock bumped his slump and poppered a beauty from Pettersson. It was 4-1 at that point but in case you missed it, here’s the goal that put them there:

If you can find the full clip of this play setup when Pettersson forechecks, it’s basically the play of the game IMO. The Canucks were easily outshot in this one but they marched all over the Penguins in the only category that mattered: the score.

4-1 Canucks is the final score.

WHAT YOU’LL TALK ABOUT TOMORROW

First of all, bravo Brock!

  • Canucks now have a two-game win streak going and improve to 10-5-3 at home this season
  • The Lotto Line finished with identical 52.17 CF% ratings tonight, pretty cool. There was a lot of possession in this game so it looks like they changed at the same time despite the shots getting out of hand after the first.
  • Jacob Markstrom was 100% in the HD, MD, and LD save categories (the goal came on the PP).
  • Elias Pettersson is ramping up again and has five goals in his last six games. He’s just outside of the Top-10 in scoring but that won’t last long. He’s found a way to get on the board when no one gives him room. Brock Boeser may even benefit from this.
  • Speaking of Brock, he hasn’t hit the net a ton lately but he’s four points behind Pettersson with 35.

Interesting title for Boeser. Rings true so far. He used to be a loud producer but it’s possible that wrist still isn’t 100% where it should be.

 

RYAN’S FINAL THOUGHTS

There was a lot to digest after this one but I think I can sum it up without boring anyone. Jacob Markstrom is the backbone of this team. The goals may come and go but if Markstrom is anything less than elite, the Canucks are still playing for a top-five pick. Thatcher Demko is just as valuable but Markstrom has taken his game to another level this season.

Elias Pettersson is a completely different player this season and he has found ways to be dominant with and without the puck. His effort on the forecheck to cause the Boeser goal will be discussed for days. That to me was the play of the game and there were a handful of plays that just missed out on plays of the year.

Finally, Jake Virtanen has brought his game to another level. His laser beam tonight was one of his nicest goals ever, he played Evgeni Malkin hard and kept him in check. Malkin look frustrated the entire game and was only held to an assist.

This was a game Canucks fans should be proud of.

On to Edmonton!