The news of the day, Jim Benning’s contract extension, overshadowed a rematch of last weeks game in Florida between the Panthers and Canucks. A game the Canucks would soon like to forget, as the loss kicked off a 1-2 road trip.
Though the trip was a tumultuous one; the Canucks did wrap it up with a big 6-0 win over Dallas on Sunday.
So on the heels of a big victory and the front office making headlines, how’d the Canucks fare?
Well, it didn’t take long for the Canucks to get going in this one. Michael Del Zotto set up by Bo Horvat in the slot, opened the scoring. His shot was stopped but bounced up high in the Florida crease. With both Boeser and Ekblad swatting at the floating puck, it appeared as tho they both connected. The puck eventually found it’s way into the net, and Del Zotto was credited with the goal.
The Panthers answered back just over three minutes later. The play started in the Panthers zone, Bo Horvat won the draw, and the Canucks won possession. But as Sven Baertschi attempted to play the puck back to the to point, big Nick Bjugstad picked off the pass. Bjugstad sent in a streaking Dadonov in on goal behind Alex Edler; with Edler hounding him from behind Dadonov squeaked the puck through Jacob Markstrom five-hole to tie the game at one apiece.
You might be starting to see a pattern here in the first. Just 34 seconds after the Dadonov goal, it was Bo Horvat’s turn.
James Reimer mishandles the puck behind his net resulting in a turnover. With Reimer out of position, it was a mad scramble in front. The Panthers actually managed to fend off the initial danger and regain possession. But after turning the puck over on the previous goal, it was Baertschi’s turn to force a turnover. The puck hopped out front to Bo Horvat, who was only able to get a piece of the puck. That piece was enough, as it beat James Reimer, who appeared to be out of sorts early in the game, and battled his helmet straps coming loose much of the night.
It would take a little longer this time around, but still, in the first, it was Florida again. Tying the game up at two, thanks to Jamie McGinn’s… back?
At the side of the net, Aaron Ekblad snuck in off the point on the power-play picking up a rebound off the end boards. Ekblad shovels the puck up in the air, and as it came down, it bounced off McGinn and in.
The Panthers kept the gas pedal to the floor. A battle between Jared McCann and Erik Gudbranson (which was sure to put a smirk on many Canucks fans face) broke out down low in the Canucks zone, both players took runs at each other. As the battle moved up the boards and then back down low, Gudbranson attempted to move the puck to Brandon Sutter, but it was the pesky McCann right there to pounce.
McCann made a slick pass through the slot and found Alex Petrovic who made it 3-2.
It just wasn’t Markstrom’s night tonight. With just 1:24 left in the first, Nick Bjugstad picked up the puck behind his centre off a won face-off. He immediately let the shot go, and it went straight through Markstrom.
Despite the onslaught of Florida goals, the Canucks actually led in shots 16-14 after twenty and had 52.54% of the expected goals at five-on-five.
After giving up four goals in the first period, Jacob Markstrom took a seat to start the second.
With Anders Nilsson now in net, the torrent pace goals were being scored at in the first calmed. And the two teams settled into a typical rhythm. Tho at 17:23 the Panthers did have a goal waived off; Ekblad took his best swing at the head-high puck and put it behind Anders Nilsson. It was a clear high stick and was easily waived off.
Shortly after that, it was Ekblad, being toe dragged by Brandon Sutter. Once past Ekblad, Sutter had one of the Canucks better chances of the period. Using his best offensive attribute, firing a solid wrist shot on goal. Reimer was equal to the task.
The Canucks killed off a Troy Stecher holding call, while the Panthers were sent to the PK courtesy Michael Haley. Alex Edler stepped hard into the Panthers tough guy along the boards with a thundering hit. The NHL’s leader in fighting major dropped the gloves and tried to goad Edler into a scrap. Edler was having none of it and jawed back at Haley after he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
I am desperate to know what Alex Edler trash talk sounds like. #Canucks
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) February 15, 2018
The Panthers continued to find their way to the box, at 8:38 Mark Pysyk was called for interference after stepping into Jake Virtanen.
Then with just nine seconds left in the power-play, Panthers captain Derek McKenzie was called for tripping. As Derrick Pouliot slashed his way across the Florida blueline, McKenzie got a stick in his feet, sending Pouliot to the ice.
A very short 5-on-3 ensued, shorter than the nine seconds on the board. Bo Horvat won the draw to his left to Daniel Sedin. Sedin the kicked the puck back to Boeser, who stepped into the slot, took aim and let fly.
Three minutes into the third, it was Haley to the box again, for a four err…. two-minute high sticking penalty.
Despite initially signalling a double minor; the correct call given Troy Stecher’s bloodied nose, the call was changed to just a minor for reasons unbeknownst to us.
Blood dripping from Stecher's nose and Haley only gets a deuce for high sticking? #Canucks
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) February 15, 2018
Aleksander’s shorthanded crossbar on a 2-on-1 was the best chance of the ensuing power-play. Shortly after that Michael Del Zotto took the Canucks off the power-play with an offensive zone interference call.
The Canucks had their opportunities in the third period, with just over six minutes left Vancouver received their third power-play of the period.
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) February 15, 2018
Anders Nilsson shut the door in relief of Markstrom and have the Canucks a chance to come back. With Nilsson’s relief appearance and a one-goal game late in the third, you can’t help but wonder…
Take away the two soft Markstrom goals and ….. #Canucks
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) February 15, 2018
In spite of the power-play opportunities and Florida failing to score after the first period, the four-goal outburst proved to be too much for the Canucks to overcome. It’s a far too common story for the Canucks this season, first-period goaltending digging an insurmountable hole.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 15, 2018
- At 5v5 the Canucks had 52.81% of expected goals
- The Canucks also led all situations expected goals 2.73 to 2.22
- High danger shots were 9-5 in favour of Vancouver
- Jacob Markstrom’s 71.4 save percentage, was 19.4 points below his expected save percentage.
- With the Canucks back in action tomorrow night the plan was likely to start Nilsson, I don’ think that changes with what we saw tonight. But it’s something worth keeping an eye on as Nilsson played two full periods tonight, and a certain line of thinking could lend itself to going back to Markstrom.
- Coming off two goals on Saturday, Reid Boucher put in another noticeable effort. He’s getting to scoring areas, and fit in nicely on the second power-play unit tonight.
- After watching several games from the press box recently, Derrick Pouliot looked much more like the player we saw earlier this year. He was skating the puck up the ice with confidence, and I didn’t notice any standout defensive struggles. He was back on the second power-play unit, bumping Michael Del Zotto.
- Playing each other for the second time in a week, this game had some bite to it. Nothing overt, but there was some feeling. There’s plenty of history on both sides, and you know McCann and Gudbranson were fully aware of who it was they were battling with for the Petrovic goal.