Vancouver Canucks vs Pittsburgh Penguins Post Game Recap: Stepping Up For Petey

The Rundown

After every Canuck fans worst nightmare came true Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, the Vancouver Canucks had to play their first game with Elias Pettersson out with an injury tonight versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. With a mini 2 game win streak as a reward for their great play in the state of Florida, it would take some role players to step up if the Canucks had any chance of pulling out a win against Sidney Crosby and the rest of a talented Penguins lineup.


1st Period

The Canucks sure looked like they came ready to play this evening, starting off with a great chance from Boeser a minute in only to get robbed by Pittsburgh starter Casey DeSmith. After losing their young star player the game before, it was a pleasant surprise to see this team fight back and look strong early in the hockey game.


However, after a strong opening 6 minutes from the Canucks, the Penguins would strike. A Canucks 2 on 1 would be thwarted, and the Penguins would get an odd-man rush of their own right after. Jake Guentzel came in with the puck and fired a shot under the arm of Anders Nilsson to give the Pens a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game.


The boys in white didn’t back down after the Penguins goal, and 3 minutes later would tie the hockey game up at 1. The 4th line would create havoc in front of the Penguins net, and it’d be Ben Hutton receiving the puck from Markus Granlund and putting it home for his first goal of the season, and first goal for him in 77 NHL games.

The rest of the 1st period was tightly contested, with the Canucks keeping up and at times looking better than the Penguins. After a great save by Nilsson on Crosby, it would be the Canucks’ 4th line again wreaking havoc on the Pens. This time, it’d be Tim Schaller throwing a great cross-ice feed to a wide-open Brandon Sutter, who’d deposit the puck into the open cage to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead with only a minute to go in the 1st. A lead they’d hold onto going into the 2nd period.

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2nd Period

After a great first period by the Canucks, they came out early in the second and tried to extend their lead instead of letting the Penguins try to dictate play. Antoine Roussel hit the post on a shot that beat DeSmith clean only a minute in and it looked like the Canucks were going to make Pittsburgh pay again. Couple minutes later, Nilsson would have to be sharp on a redirected shot from Matt Cullen. The first 4-minute sequence of play would end with Alex Edler batting the puck out of the air with his stick and into the seats, giving the Penguins their first power-play opportunity of the evening.


The Vancouver Canucks penalty kill would go to work without one of their key killers in Jay Beagle, but it wouldn’t matter as the Canucks would kill off the Penguins first (spoiler alert, only) power-play opportunity of the game.

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Nothing notable would occur for the next 5 minutes as both teams continued battling. Finally, a little scuffle between Jake Virtanen and Penguins defender Juuso Riikola would see both players receive coincidental minor penalties, setting up some 4 on 4. The ensuing 4 on 4 opportunities would provide some entertainment, and with 2 seconds to go, we’d see the save of the game after DeSmith absolutely robs Sven Baertschi and then Markus Granlund on the 4 on 4 chances.

DeSmith’s Electric Saves on Baertschi and Granlund


There would be no additional scoring through the remainder of the 2nd period. Both teams were battling hard on every shift, and we’d go into the 3rd period with the Canucks still ahead by 1.


3rd Period

More of the same to begin the 3rd, as the first 5 minutes of play. The Canucks were doing an excellent job of playing with the lead, while the Penguins pushed for the equalizer.


6 minutes in, a great feed from Nikolay Goldobin found Ben Hutton, and he ripped a shot over the shoulder of DeSmith but off the crossbar.


Fast forwarding our way through a hard-fought 3rd period, the next notable bit of action would be the Penguins who found a way to tie up the hockey game. After a great Jake Virtanen rush into the Penguins zone, he’d cough the puck up passing the puck back to the blueline and Phil Kessel would pick it up for the Pens. A 2 on 1 would ensue, and it’d be Kessel feeding Carl Hagelin with a beautiful feed through the legs of Gudbranson to lead to an easy tap-in tying the game at 2.


After the goal, this game would be furious to the end of the 3rd. Notice I didn’t say the end of the game? That’s cause this game would head to some 3 on 3 overtime.



It would only take 34 seconds for the game to be decided, and it’d be decided with a slick shot from number 6 in white and blue. Brock Boeser comes down the ice and unleashes a beautiful shot past the arm of DeSmith to give the Canucks their 3rd straight win on the road.


Advanced Stats

Both photos courtesy of Naturalstattrick.com

Wrap Up

In a game where the Canucks were down their best offensive weapon, the role players came through when they needed them. Down below are a couple of key contributors from tonight’s gutsy win.


After a questionable goal on the 1st shot he faced, Nilsson shut the door and back-stopped the team with his 3rd quality game in a row to give them the confidence to come back, and hold the lead. Although he was eventually beat a 2nd time, he had no chance on the 2 on 1 and played a great game. Can’t state enough how Nilsson was great tonight, and he’s been great for 3 straight games. As long as he continues to play well, the net should be his.


Derrick Pouliot, Troy Stecher, and Ben Hutton are all defensemen who the Canucks are expecting bigger things from after a year in which they all went through ups and downs. Tonight, all 3 of these guys looked like legit NHL defensemen. Stecher had another strong game and continued his strong play to begin the year. Derrick Pouliot had another strong showing tonight in his own end, breaking up a few rushes and making good decisions with the puck. Then there’s Ben Hutton, who looked to be playing with a ton of confidence tonight. Made a smart play to jump up in the rush that led to a goal, and nearly had his 2nd of the game if he shot an inch lower. Also made some great plays rushing the puck up the ice with his skating, and was solid in his own end. Great game tonight from the trifecta of young defensemen.


The line of Tim Schaller, Markus Granlund, and Tyler Motte tonight had themselves a game. They were in the Penguins zone quite a bit on a majority of their shifts and made life hell for the Penguins defense. They knew they had to step up, and they did just that. Schaller also set up Sutter with a beautiful backdoor feed to help give the Canucks the lead, while Granlund had a great helper on Hutton’s first goal in over a year.


Adam Gaudette made his regular season debut tonight, and in limited ice time didn’t look out of place. He made a couple of nice plays, and in particular had a nice rush which led to a chance, but wasn’t able to factor into the scoresheet. While he won’t light the lamp as Pettersson does, he’s an important piece moving forward and it’s good to see him getting the first call-up with Beagle out long term. A good start for him tonight, and someone to watch moving forward.


That’s all for tonight, great job by the Canucks to win their 3rd straight. After all the dread that was surrounding this team prior to the road trip, they’ve passed the test so far.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Not once this season so far has Vancouver NOT been in the game going into the 3rd period even leading in this one. when is the last time the Canucks were ever this competitive in the first six games of the season? With any luck they could be 6-0-0 right now and I’m not disappointed at all. McJesus pretty much beat the Jets all by himself tonight But Winnipeg have sufficient fire power to make anyone very nervous. Keep hustling, Canucks.

  • Braindead Benning

    I think the Canucks D had themselves there finest all round game thus far, not the most entertaining, but a good team effort nice to see Hutton finally get a goal hope this will help his confidence and creates more internal competition

  • Rodeobill

    Rousell did great this game. He looks always determined to get the other team off their game each shift and should be paired with JV more. Our D core looked really good tonight, I was impressed. Brock needed that one tonight too, get some of that groove back.

  • TheRealPB

    The first win against the Flames was lucky; these three have not been. I’ve been amazed by Pettersson’s play as anyone but I thought it was incorrect to say that those wins have leaned as heavily on him as they have. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much so many of the young players have stepped up. And while the preseason showed little sign of any structure or rhythm, the actual season has showed the opposite. Last night in particular it felt like the Canucks gritted out another game. What is especially apparent is the pace with which they play. I had the misfortune of having to listen to the Pens broadcast — one of the most homer game feeds you can get — and they were commenting on this too, that post-Sedin the Canucks are a completely different team in terms of pushing the play, not slow and possession oriented but fast and buzzing on the attack.

    I’m a bit surprised that you didn’t mention that Hutton’s pinch led to the second goal, not just Virtanen losing the puck. I don’t really think that’s a great read so late in the game (and Gudbranson being unable to do the one thing you’re supposed to on a 2-on-1 – defend the pass – made it impossible for Nilsson to stop) but overall I agree that he had a really strong game. I even like the fact that he kept pushing play after that mistake (and also that Green kept playing him).

    I think Baertschi’s play has been underrated so far this season. I saw him throwing the body to get the puck a few times and generally distributing well. Speaking of which, Goldobin has shown real creativity in each game and is slowly building Green’s trust. Every player outside of Gaudette (who didn’t play much near the end) got a decent amount of ice and Hutton and Gudbranson (despite the 2nd goal) played real second pairing minutes, taking at least some of the weight off Edler and Tanev. With no PP and just one PK, the ice-time was much more spread out. I thought the checking lines did a fantastic job on Crosby, Kessel and Malkin; while the Pens had some puck possession, a lot of their play was to the outside. And big props to Schaller; not only did he outmuscle two Pens to set up the Sutter goal, it was also his play to negate the icing that set up the Hutton goal. Out of the three free agent signings I thought he was AHL depth but he is an effective bottom six player. In fact with Granlund and Virtanen’s improved play (and Eriksson looking like he’s a decent 2nd line security blanket for Pettersson/Gaudette and Goldobin), this is the best our bottom nine has looked in years.

    And that shot by Boeser fooled everyone including himself. Great to see him rounding into shape.

    • Hockey Fan

      Why watch the Pens feed, it was on TV/internet with Shorthouse and Garrett?

      Good win this, I thought the Canucks game plan of tenacious forechecking and negating the speed of Pitts worked very well. Also kudos to the officials for letting the players play.

  • wjohn1925

    It seems to me that this last round of JB signings have really made a key difference in creating the depth on the bottom 6. It’s hard to criticize the recent and current contributions of Shaller, Rousseau and Beagle. It’s allowed others like Sutter and JV to play roles and times more suited to their skill set. We still lack enough of the top end skill to really be consistently competitive over the course of a long season, and push for a playoff spot. The biggest surprise so far for me has been the defense, which has been so much better organized than last year or during the pre-season.

    • kermit

      Getting solid goal tending boosts the whole team, back to front. I thought a lot of Penguin shots went wide, Nilsson must be looking awfully big to the shooters. It seemed like the neutral zone was relatively open last night, and there was an usually high number of icings by both teams. And you have to love the way Stecher plays the game.

  • DJ_44

    Hard work with less skill trumps skill without hard work. The Canucks out worked the Pens plain and simple. Standouts, as mentioned, were all defencemen and the (nominal) 3rd and 4th lines. Schaller was a horse.

    Credit where it is due, Hutton has played well, especially tonight. He did have the massive brain freeze on the pinch, and giveaway that led to the tying goal, but he is what he is. Frankly, I can live with the odd bad pinch if he keeps his game simple as he has been doing and shows the physical play in the defensive zone (nice hit on Guentzul in front of the net on the disallowed goal).

    Tanev and Edler are both studs. Give them big props. Crosby did not have much tonight.

    • Hockey Fan

      Virtanen actually threw Hutton under the bus by passing it blindly back to the blueline when he should’ve shovelled it behind the net where we were having success forechecking all night long. You just can’t do that with Kessel and Malkin on the ice!

    • Beer Can Boyd

      I don’t think Hutton was expecting Virtanen to throw the puck back to the line. As Green said, late in a 2-1 game that puck should have been dumped behind the net. Those are the kind of unthinking plays that Jake has mostly eliminated this year. He’s been great so far.

      • Defenceman Factory

        The big failure of that play happened because Virtanen fell down. Hutton pinched with Virtanen heading back toward the blueline. Had Virtanen not fallen he would have been in position to defend when Hutton’s pinch was unsuccessful. I agree the better play was for Virtanen to keep the puck down low.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Another great team performance. They really look as though they are playing for each other for the first time in years. Not one single player took the night off, the forecheck was ferocious, and they made the Penguins look slow and old, which they actually may be becoming. Big test tomorrow night though, as Winnipeg will be by far the best team they have faced this season. And in one of the most hostile rinks in the league.Does Nilsson get the start?

      • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

        Chill Winston 🙂 I get auto downvoted all the time simply based on my reputation for being a collosal Benning/Eriksson/Guddy hater 90% of the time. Don’t let it bother you. I gave you props.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Maybe Benning actually did as I had mentioned on sunday (and The Moj as well monday) in tearing a new butthole into the team after the FLA game. Players having one anothers’ backs is so important for team building and future success.

  • truthseeker

    It’s simply a great start to the season. Good to see their hard work being rewarded with some wins.

    Liked what I saw with Gaudette too. That one play where he made a few nice moves and got in on the goalie was sweet.

    I hope they can keep this going.

    • Hockey Fan

      Wtf – surprised you even watch the games. All you do is whine, condascend and look down your nose at hockey, hockey fans and the players. Funny little contradictory fella arentcha.

          • Saint Albert

            Well well, no surprise to see a lowlife like crofton/backup bob supporting and condoning that kind of disgusting behaviour from an internet tough guy like this coward, who has got away with bad mouthing and belittling commenters on here for far too long. Thanks for showing us all your true colors crofton/back up bob.

          • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

            Hockey Fan, you complain for the mods to mod while you incite and hate on 100% positive posts/comments? Why dont you focus your energy on the article/team and be more supportive. If someone all of a sudden is positive on something you feel they are usually negative on, why not leave a positive comment and appreciate the positivity?

        • truthseeker

          This piece of garbage called for me being banned simply because he thinks I “hate” hockey. So anyone who thinks I’m out of line for calling him a fascist piece of sh….. for that can go f…k themselves too. Because that’s exactly what he is.

          • truthseeker

            not too mention it’s probably PQW again…lol. I’ll admit he’s playing this roll a little better than he usually does. Showing a little more “talent” for disguising himself. He managed to get about 3 posts in before his common traits started to expose themselves naturally.

  • canuckfan

    Good to see the teams hard work paying off but there is nothing better than having your goal tender making critical saves to keep the team in a position to win the game.
    We are a long ways from making the playoffs but when we do I am sure that Green will be out coaching his opponent.

  • NeverWas

    Do you know who’s not really getting recognized I think as much as he should be… Bo Horvat! That kid is an absolute beast at there and his speed has reached a new level this season. That off the wingnet drive is nearly installable when he gets going… He’s got the size, skill, speed like a freight train which found another gear this year and to protect the puck like nobody else… really impressed with his game this year! Kid just keeps getting better!!

  • Defenceman Factory

    Hard to believe this is the same team we watched through a preseason where the whole team looked disorganized and disengaged. Decent goal tending, solid work ethic, noticeable improvements in the play of young Dmen and enough offensive skill to be dangerous are making this an entertaining team to watch.

    I know there are many who visit this site who can only see the down side of the Benning regime. There is no shortage of things to point at and criticize but so far the on ice product is pretty good this year. The 3 UFA signings this summer have delivered. There are at least a few Penguins who did not enjoy playing against Roussel and Schaller last night. The PK has been awesome. Is Pouliot starting to look like a solid acquisition? Has Green actually been running a meritocracy? Gagner got waived, MDZ is in the press box.

    I truly hope Benning continues to view this as a rebuilding team. The Canucks need to keep adding talented young players to the system, particularly on defence, to be successful over the long term. It will also be a challenge to keep finding roster spots for young players who show they deserve one.

    Looking forward to the next game.

    • Killer Marmot

      There were signs that the team wasn’t as bad as their preseason record indicated. In particular, they were outshot only in their last game.

      But the vital take-away is don’t take the preseason seriously. Well-established teams tend to do well because they have their lines mostly set. Teams in transition tend to do poorly because the coach is experimenting with different prospects and line combinations. He’s not trying to win games, he’s trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    • Giant-Nation

      This years depth in Utica and on the big club are really paying good dividends with everyone being on their A-game. Unlike when JV first cam in we seemed starved for talent in Utica and spots were set in the big club. It has take some time to stock the cupboard and create a competitive work environment but kudos to management. Losing two centers last year alone would be complete disaster. Even with EP in the line up I have to be honest I didn’t see this start coming. Good stuff.

      • Killer Marmot

        I have hopes that the Canucks will not do a mid-season face plant like they have in the last few years, when they were forced to plug holes with players who were not NHL caliber nor ever would be.

        • jaybird43

          KM, I *think* this team is deeper than last years, with a bit better quality bottom six, and the team now a bit faster now that the Sedin (loved them, don’t get me wrong) are gone and Pettersson is the real deal.

          Mind you, I thought last years numerous additions would help when the inevitable injuries hit: so I apparently know very little.

    • truthseeker

      Yeah same with me. I don’t see a point in trading a guy at a low point of his career. Especially a young guy that doesn’t have a history that might make a team give something decent up for him.

      Nice to see him fighting his way back. Hope he keeps it going and keeps improving. Cause having a kid like him “figure it out” would be absolutely massive for the future of the team. Same thing with Pouliot as well. If those two put it together, and do it consistently where you know a regression isn’t going to be likely, it could change the whole outlook of the team. Could turn them into a playoff contender rather than a bottom feeder.

      With Guddy, it’s a little bit the same. It is nice to see him doing better, and it would be a great help if he could become a stable member of the back end, but ultimately I’d like to see him moved, as I don’t see him as a long term fit with the team. Hopefully he keeps playing like that and the canucks will “pump and dump” him.

  • Captain Video

    Quality goaltending makes anything possible. Let’s hope Nilsson can keep his hot hand going until EP returns. A good effort from just about everyone on the team (except maybe Jake on that late brainfart).

  • Kanuckhotep

    Consider what we’ve seen so far though it’s very, very early. Have FA signings #83, #26 and #59 provided competent veteran leadership? Are the young draft choices leading the Canucks now? I ask these rhetorical questions in lieu of the fact that the pot shots taken at Green, and most of all, Benning are starting to disappear on the blog. I don’t venerate nor denigrate Jim Benning either but as a GM he’s doing about what I’d be doing to improve the caliber of this club. If you took #21, #23 and #83 out of the age mix for the VC I think the average age of the club doesn’t quite even hit 25 years of age. Is Big Jim doing the right thing going with a youth oriented club built through the draft supplemented with capable veteran FA signings? There will be rough patches I’m sure in ‘18-19 but by judiciously bringing in 2 or 3 kids per season like mgmt has been doing you don’t end up being a one man team like McSavior and the Oilers, who suck. I won’t defend Benning for everything he does or says but he seems to be on the right track.

  • crofton

    Solid game by just about everyone I thought. I think both Nilsson and the D were helped out immensely by the back- checking forwards. And the fore-check was pretty damned good also.