The Vancouver Canucks came into Thursday night’s game with something to prove, having struggled through most of November. The team went into game two of a six-game road trip having only won one of their last eight games, prompting some major changes to the lineup.
#Canucks lines and pairs are in a blender at morning skate in Nashville.
Baertschi, Eriksson and Fantenberg appears to be extras. pic.twitter.com/ocx7BoYOkD
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) November 21, 2019
Hey, thanks for that Drancer! We miss you over here!
Tanner Pearson was set to play alongside the dynamic duo of Pettersson and Boeser while JT Miller went back to play with Bo Horvat. The name that really sticks out in the top six is that of Zack MacEwen, who played on Horvat’s other wing. We will be keeping a keen eye on MacEwen, as he has played 10 of his 25 NHL minutes alongside Bo Horvat and coach Travis Green must see something out of #TheBigFella to put him in such an enviable position.
MacEwen had been on the ice for five goals against in his 25 career NHL minutes and tonight I wanted to see how he could play alongside two of the best Canucks forwards.
The Gaudette line was shaken up as well. Leivo and Virtanen would be on The Hockey Gaud’s wings tonight and I thought that was a strange idea as I thoroughly enjoyed watching the line of Baertschi-Gaudette-Leivo.
The line of Baertschi-Gaudette-Leivo should be the third line. A very effective forecheck from the trio and they have the hands to be able to finish scoring chances.
It would be a scoring third line.
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) November 20, 2019
The team’s fourth line featured Tyler Graovac on the right wing and Canucks fans rejoiced together as the Canucks decided to bench Loui Eriksson in favour of two AHL callups.
Markstrom got the start for back-to-back games as he looked to bounce back from the six goals that he allowed on Tuesday night. As written about in the last postgame report, those six goals were tough for Markstrom as he was left out to dry on multiple occasions.
Let’s get into it!
The Canucks struggling penalty kill took to the ice early on in the first period as Adam Gaudette took a penalty just over a minute into the game. The Predators powerplay looked dangerous and Jacob Markstrom was able to make a couple of great saves to keep the game tied.
The defensive pairing of Chris Tanev and Quinn Hughes were the only pairing that stayed together after Tuesday’s rough outing. Tanev sent in Hughes on an odd man rush that resulted in a scoring chance for Elias Pettersson. Pettersson missed the net on the shot as it almost looks like he is gripping the stick a little too tightly lately but just needs to unload a couple of his signature shots to get back into the groove.
It’s not that Pettersson has been bad lately, it just feels a bit different seeing the puck come off of his stick this season. He seems to be taking an extra half-second to get shots off this season. As this game continued on I wanted to continue following Pettersson’s shot attempts because once he catches fire there is no stopping him.
Tim Schaller had the best early chance of the game as he was left wide open in front of the net but was robbed by Pekka Rinne. The fourth line looked to have a lot of energy early on in the game and was forechecking very well as a unit.
Ryan Johansen was sent in on a partial breakaway and for the 16th time in 23 games the Canucks gave up the first goal of the game. Johansen got behind the defence as he was screaming down the right side of the ice and made a move to the backhand to beat Jacob Markstrom. 1-0 Preds.
Early results of the first period may not have been good for the Canucks on the scoreboard but the team had a lot more energy early on in this road game and had been able to generate some dangerous scoring chances. The Preds were full of energy as well and it felt like a good night to be on the postgame report even though the Canucks gave up an early goal.
Brock Boeser had an electric shift with about five minutes to go in the first period. He was able to make a great move to get away from the defender and ended up getting two good shots off. The energy from that shift transitioned into the following shift where Jake Virtanen was banging away at the puck in front of Rinne. Virtanen ended up getting smashed in the face in the after whistle scrum and just like that the Canucks were on the powerplay for the first time.
The powerplay struck early as they were able to set up in the offensive zone easily and move the puck around very well. Quinn Hughes was able to get a one timer shot off and the puck ended up getting to Elias Pettersson who made a great cross crease pass that bounce off the Nashville defender. 1-1.
Just about a minute later Adam Gaudette was the victim of a Mikael Granlund high stick and the Canucks were right back out on the powerplay with an opportunity to take the lead. The first unit was unsuccessful but the second unit came out and got pucks on net quickly.
The second power play group succeeded in their attempt as Tyler Graovac tipped in an Alex Edler point shot. The Canucks were off to a hot start for the powerplay and the team quickly took the lead. 2-1 Canucks.
It was interesting to see Tyler Graovac come out on a powerplay unit but if it works then who am I to question it. The Canucks took a late penalty in the first period as Alex Edler continued his 2019-20 parade to the penalty box. The period would expire on the Preds and the Canucks were up 2-1 after 20 minutes.
Early results form the first period was that they were great on the powerplay and that’s why they are leading at this point and the line of Josh Leivo, Adam Gaudette and Jake Virtanen controlled a large majority of the pace of play at five-on-five.
Nashville began the second period with 1:22 remaining on their powerplay. The Canucks were able to kill off the penalty with some great defending by Chris Tanev and Bo Horvat. The Lotto line was assembled early on in the second period after the penalty kill. They ended up being caught in their defensive zone for a long time and were forced to ice the puck. Jacob Markstrom made a tremendous right toe save on Mikael Granlund and then later covered the puck to get the team a line change.
The Canucks came back with a 3 on 1 opportunity that was lead by Tim Schaller, he got a good shot off and then drove the goaltender too hard and gave Rinne a poke that resulted in the Canucks being shorthanded for the third time of the night.
Tanner Pearson broke his stick on the play and the Predators scored a powerplay goal of their own as Calle Jarnkrok unloaded on a cross ice pass to tie the game up. Tanner Pearson was the defender in the area of the cross ice pass and it was tough luck for him as he broke his stick about 5 second prior to the pass that setup the one timer for Jarnkrok. 2-2 after the Preds goal.
Elias Pettersson drew a penalty with 14:03 remaining in the third period and the Canucks went to the powerplay for the third time tonight after scoring on their two previous attempts.
JT Miller gained the zone on a good drop pass from Brock Boeser that came from a Quinn Hughes drop pass to Elias Pettersson and Miller ripped a wrist shot off of Victor Arvidsson’s stick that found the back of the net. The shot could not have been any deeper in the top corner as the Canucks regained the lead 3-2 after their third power play goal of the night.
Pettersson receives the drop pass on the PP and J.T. Miller rips one past Pekka Rinne pic.twitter.com/9VXnP4xv7z
— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) November 22, 2019
Here’s another view.
JT Miller with the friendly deflection off of a Preds’ stick
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 22, 2019
The Canucks had three power play goals on three shots and the Canucks kept the pressure on Nashville which earned them a fourth powe rplay attempt as Dante Fabbro took his second minor penalty of the game when he slashed JT Miller with 11:08 to go in the second period. Neither of the units were able to generate and sustained pressure and the Canucks were now 3 for 4 on the powerplay.
Halfway through the game Travis Green was sticking to his original lines. Aside from The Lotto Line getting a long shift after a powerplay the Canucks lines looked to have a lot of energy.
Tyler Myers took a “being too big and strong” penalty with 7:33 remaining in the second period when he sent Filip Forsberg flying after he drove the Canucks crease after the whistle. The Canucks killed off the penalty and they lead 3-2 with five minutes remaining in the second period. Markstrom continued to make big saves in this period. He looked like he was really getting into a groove at the midway point of the game even though he already allowed two goals.
Jordie Benn took a high stick from Victor Arvidsson with 2:41 remaining in the period and the Canucks were out on the powerplay for the fifth time tonight.
Quinn Hughes made an incredible pass to Brock Boeser on the left side of the net. Boeser took that pass and then drove the puck to the net in tight and JT Miller looked to have moved the puck towards the goal as the puck was sliding through the crease but the goal was registered as Brock Boeser’s 10th of the year. 4-2 Canucks.
The Canucks drew another penalty immediately after the fourth goal and wasted no time scoring their fifth powerplay goal of the game as Bo Horvat and JT Miller were jamming away in front of the net and Horvat snuck it behind Pekka Rinne. 5-2 Canucks.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) November 22, 2019
After two periods JT Miller could have easily had all four of the Canucks first power play unit goals, but instead he was playing a ton of ice time and helping spread around the scoring as “The Fab Five” was all over the scoresheet after 40 minutes.
Pekka Rinne did not return to the game in the third period as the Predators went with Juuse Saros for the third period after Rinne allowed 5 goals on 17 shots.
Alex Edler took another penalty early in the third period and it opened up the door for the Predators to get back into the game.
The Canucks would kill off the penalty but the Preds would take over the next five minutes as Jacob Markstrom made a handful of huge saves to maintain the three goal lead.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) November 22, 2019
The relentless pressure from the Nashville Predators was too much for Jacob Markstrom as they were controlling the pace of play for all of the third period and the compounded pressure resulted in a break in the 3 goal lead as Calle Jarnkrok scored his second of the game with Matt Duchene screening in front of the net. 5-3 Canucks after the Preds goal.
The Preds goal seemed to get through to the Canucks as the Canucks finally generated some offensive pressure as the team was halfway through the third period. Pearson, Pettersson and Boeser had some offensive zone time but the Preds were coming in waves at the Canucks and continued to apply pressure on Markstrom.
With 3:49 remaining in the third period the Canucks went back to the penalty kill as they took a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Nashville went to the powerplay down by two goals and hoping to cut that lead in half.
Jacob Markstrom really kept the Canucks in this game as the Preds began pouring it on the Canucks late in the third during their 6 on 4 powerplay with their net empty.
Tanner Pearson wrangled up the puck in the defensive zone and fired a 190 footer at the empty net to make it 6-3 Canucks. John Garrett made his case to get Jacob Markstrom an assist but the scorekeepers registered it as an unassisted goal.
The Preds continued to pressure the Canucks but Jacob Markstrom was excellent in this period and the Canucks were able to run the clock down to secure a 6-3 win in Nashville.
The Canucks were dominated in the advanced stats department tonight. The Preds were all over them at times, without the powerplay production tonight could have been a very different story. The Preds dominated the Corsi battle as the controlled 71.67% of shots towards the net and also controlled 68.57 of the shot share at all strengths. Jacob Markstrom deserves a very expensive steak tonight in Nashville.
-The Canucks powerplay was outstanding Thursday night as they were able to score 5 powerplay goals on 6 attempts and had the Nashville Predators chasing the play throughout the night. All 5 players from the first powerplay unit registered at least 2 points.
-Jacob Markstrom was the first star of the game as he faced 48 shots from the Preds and will likely be saving the highlights from tonight’s game if he does hit free agency on July 1st.
In Other News
Dan Murphy celebrated 20 years with Sportsnet on Thursday night. An incredible accomplishment for a man who I have seen on my TV since I was 5 years old. He’s been the only host I know and the best host that Canucks fans could have ever asked for. I think I speak for all Canucks fans when I say congratulations to Murph and we hope to see him covering playoff games for the Canucks in the years to come.
The Canucks won tonight’s game because some stellar goaltending and an extremely productive powerplay. That’s something that good teams do sometimes. You might not be able to outplay your opponent every night but if you are able to find ways to win games then you get closer and closer to being a playoff team.
The Canucks continue on to game three of their six game road trip on Saturday morning as they take on the Washington Capitals at 9:30AM pacific time. It’ll be a coffee time game for the Canucks on Saturday and hopefully they can keep buzzing on the powerplay and turn this road trip around in a hurry with a win against the Capitals.