The Canucks went into Raleigh this afternoon looking to extend their win streak to six games. The young, upstart Canucks have been on an impressive run since the latter half of December, having won 14 of their last 17 before today’s contest against the Canes.

Vancouver started off the game looking very much like a team that had played a tight contest the day before. Carolina got the majority of the chances early on in the first period, but the Canucks were able to take the lead thanks to an unbelievable shot by Elias Pettersson. After overcoming their early sluggishness, the Canucks would trade chances with the Hurricanes for the remainder of the period but the score would remain 1-0.

After a couple of quick goals by Carolina to start the second frame, the Canucks were looking rattled. They were outshot 8-2 in the first 5 minutes, and for a moment, it appeared as though the Canucks were going to run out of gas and get trampled by a hungry team that is currently in a dogfight for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Canucks crawled back, adding two goals over the back half of the game, including another laser from Pettersson, while Carolina would add another. The game headed to overtime, but that solved nothing, and the Canucks would fall in the shootout, putting an end to their winning streak in the process.



Game Notes

  • This is not the same Canucks team that fans have been treated to for the past five years or so. In the past, a second period like the one the team had this afternoon would have killed their chances at a victory. Instead, the team’s combination of high-end skill and goaltending was enough to help the team claw back and claim an extra point in the standings. That’s no small feat for a team that had just gone to overtime just over 24 hours earlier. That point will be enough to keep the Oilers at bay, who are now three points back with a game in hand.
  • Elias Pettersson was the story in this one, scoring not one but two highlight-reel goals you had to see to believe. The first came when Chris Tanev’s pass hit his skate and Pettersson was able to quickly spin and rip the puck into the top corner while falling down.

The second came late in the third period when he was able to bank the puck off James Reimer from the goal line, with barely enough room for the puck to squeak through.

These are both examples of goals that most NHLers simply wouldn’t be able to pull off. Few players in the NHL can get a shot off as quickly and accurately as Pettersson did on the first goal, and most forwards don’t have the vision to squeeze the puck in between the goaltender and the post on the second goal, either. Without Pettersson’s unique ability to create offence with even a millisecond of extra time and a centimetre of extra space, the Canes win this one handily.

  • It’s almost comical how much better the Eastern Conference is than the Western Conference. The Hurricanes have 30 wins, 63 points, and a +27 goal differential, and are currently in the final wild card spot in the East. The Canucks have 30 wins, 65 points, and a +18 goal differential, and are first in the Pacific Division. Full credit is due to both teams for making the best of their situations, but this might be the most lopsided the two conferences have been in recent memory.
  • The Canucks’ PP has gone cold and looked uncharacteristically sloppy as of late, and today was no different. They were 0-4 on the man advantage tonight, and gave up nearly as many scoring chances as they were able to produce. They have now converted on just 4 of their last 41 power plays, causing them to fall to 7th in the league, down from the second overall spot they had occupied earlier in the year.
  • The Canucks are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the question of where to play Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen. It’s clear that the team as a whole gets a bump when the scoring is spread across all three lines, but Boeser’s effectiveness is limited when he’s playing on the third line. I thought he had a strong game this afternoon after returning to the RW spot on the top line. He was on the ice for both of Pettersson’s goals, and finished the game as one of only four Canucks in the black by shot-share. Virtanen, for his part, also looked comfortable back on the third line with Adam Gaudette and Antoine Roussel, finishing with a team-high 65% corsi-for. Ultimately, it appears as though the Canucks have two right-wingers who are effective on the team’s top line, which is a good problem to have.

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