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Game three has come and gone and the Vancouver Canucks bested the Minnesota Wild by a score of 3-0 to pick up back to back wins to take control of the best of five series.

There have been a lot of roster changes to the Canucks‘ lineup since game one. Micheal Ferland left the bubble earlier this week after being deemed unfit to play. With the injury bug biting at the Canucks they would have to bring in some new faces and shuffle the bottom six once again.

With the lineup shuffle, Zack MacEwen drew into the lineup for his first NHL postseason game. Jake Virtanen would be moved up to the third line and Antoine Roussel brought his bruised eye into action to round out the third line with Brandon Sutter.

The Canucks needed to keep an extra eye on Kevin Fiala as he had been red hot over the two previous games and the two quick goals that he scored in game two should have caught the coaching staff’s attention.

The same two goalies patrolled the creases as Alex Stalock and Jacob Markstrom were back in goal.

Here’s how the lines shaped out for the Canucks.

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Get your coffee ready, we’ve got a Canucks matinee game!

Let’s go!

First Period

The first few minutes included some 4-on-4 hockey as early simultaneous penalties were called. That slowed the flow of the game down for the first five minutes. The Wild controlled a good portion of the offensive zone time early on in the game.

MacEwen skated well early on as he made his debut, firing a couple of shots on Stalock and forechecking hard, he would draw a penalty later in the period and was impressing Canucks fans.

Brandon Sutter secured a scoring chance shorthanded as he came in on a 2-on-1 with Tanner Pearson. The Canucks had a good kill and were able to limit Fiala and the Wild to one shot on goal. Markstrom was dialled in early as he faced a couple of dangerous shots but was in position to absorb all the pucks thrown his way early in the period.

The Wild played strong in the first. They were skating with some jump and it had the Canucks on their heels for a majority of the period. The Canucks had some pushback late in the period and were able to draw two penalties late. The best chance came when Jake Virtanen flew down the left wing and backhand sauced a pass to Brandon Sutter who got a decent backhand off but couldn’t get it over Stalock’s shoulder.

Loui Eriksson had a rush down the wing that saw him fire a pretty good shot on net. This is something we don’t see often and even though it was just after noon local time, it was time for a drink.

Coach Travis Green was on his game in the first period. He was making smart decisions for faceoff draws. Using the defensive pairing of Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers for offensive zone faceoffs when The Lotto Line was on the ice to maximize the potential for offence. He was also using multiple centres in the defensive zone to help with faceoffs. There were times where JT Miller would jump on with the fourth line to help support Beagle.

Green made adjustments as the period went on and the team reacted well to the moves he made. The Canucks drew a penalty with 19 seconds remaining in the period and would carry that powerplay over into the second.

Second Period

The second period consisted of back and forth powerplays. The Canucks were all over Fiala like Curtis Hallock on a Mantracker contestant. Fiala was attempting lots of shots but was held to only a few on net through the first 40 minutes.

Ryan Hartmann, who has quickly become the most hated man in Vancouver, had a dangerous hit on Pettersson as his back was to him and he was going down. He didn’t smash Pettersson on the play but it had the potential to be a pretty dirty play if he did.

It could have been worse for sure. It was good to see the Canucks respond to the hit when JT Miller roughed up Hartman. A dangerous play and the Canucks were lucky this didn’t result in anything worse.

After the ugly hit, the Canucks went to the powerplay with 7:34 remaining in the period. It was a crucial powerplay as no team was able to solve each other’s goaltenders at this point in the game.

That was about to change.

The Calder connection came together on the powerplay and Brock Boeser put in a valiant effort to dive for the puck and slide it into the yawning cage. Assists went to Pettersson and Hughes and the Canucks were up 1-0 with 6:11 remaining in the period.

After the Canucks took the lead, they would take two quick penalties as Loui Eriksson continued added more to his little things profile and ran Stalock.

As the Canucks were in the midst of killing off that penalty, Tyler Myers took a roughing call with seven seconds remaining in the penalty kill and the Wild would get a 5-on-3. The Canucks killed off the two man advantage and the first 90 seconds of the second powerplay as they took a 1-0 lead into the third period.

The Myers penalty was his fifth in only eight periods and though his physicality has gone to another level, he needs to be a bit more careful with how many penalties he has been taking.

The Wild set themselves up for 30 seconds of powerplay time to begin the third period. Aside from the goal scored by the Canucks, the Wild had to be happy with their play in that period as they dominated the Canucks at 5-on-5. The Wild had 13 scoring chances compared to the Canucks five in the second period.

The Canucks needed to be strong in the third with a narrow one goal lead.

Third Period

It was going to take a strong defensive period for the Canucks to defend their one goal lead. Luckily for them, they fired another puck behind Stalock early on in the period. Roussel only needed one eye to speed down the wing and go to his backhand deke move to bury one on Stalock. 2-0 Canucks.

Antoine Roussel stayed after practice almost every day at training camp practicing breakaways on Thatcher Demko.

I saw him do that move about 20 times.

He was ready for that moment.

You just can’t help but love sports.

Later in the period, Fiala made contact with Markstrom after the whistle and big bad Brandon Sutter took Fiala out in the corner. Sutter somehow didn’t get a penalty for his after whistle antics. I have to believe that has something to do with the name on his jersey. The refs were probably just looking for Roussel to take to the box.

The Canucks killed off another penalty late in the period, bringing the Wild to 0-7 on the powerplay for the night.

Tyler Motte and Jay Beagle looked like elite penalty killers all game long. They were able to get blades on shot attempts and cleared the puck at will. They were even able to generate a few scoring chances with the man down. Chris Tanev went to work on the late Wild powerplay as he did what Tanev does best and blocked shots, looking like David Quadrelli with a riot shield in Warzone.

Tyler Myers approved, as he took his sixth penalty of the series in the third period.

The Canucks were up 2-0 when they went to the powerplay with just over two minutes remaining.

They put the game away during a 2-on-1 with the Canucks superstars Hughes and Pettersson breaking in. Hughes sent a picture-perfect pass across to Pettersson who made no mistake and buried it. It was Hughes’ third assist of the game. Canucks win 3-0.

The Fancies

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Top Performers

I didn’t talk about him a lot in the postgame report but Markstrom was good when he needed to be. The defence in front of him was better than the performance that he put on for his first postseason shutout. The Wild attempted 72 shots on Markstrom tonight, only 27 of them made it to the goaltender.

The Wild had 41 scoring chances today and those scoring chances needed to be defended by the Canucks. They stepped up as a group and this was a team shutout tonight. Markstrom called the penalty kill “unbelievable” after the game. He praised the whole team for their shot-blocking and how quickly they were able to clear the puck. Tyler Motte led the way with seven shot blocks.

The big guns came to play once again. Pettersson had a goal and primary assist, Hughes had three assists, including two primary assists, and Boeser scored the game-winning goal while adding an assist. The Calder connection needs to be good and they were tonight. Showing that the Canucks youth is ready for postseason hockey.

Wrap-Up

The Canucks are still yet to allow a 5-on-5 goal in this series. Their top players came to play tonight and the defence as a whole was absolutely stellar. They were blocking shots, getting sticks on shooters and played a physical game.

This was what postseason hockey is all about. The Canucks took a punch to the mouth in game one but have bounced back and given Minnesota a real one-two combo.

Game four will be Friday night as the Canucks look to close out the series and move on into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

We will see you there!