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Postgame: Canucks Lose Key Pacific Division Matchup 4-2

It’s not often that Canuck fans find themselves eagerly awaiting a matchup against Arizona. Although it’s also not very often that the Canucks play meaningful games in March against their Pacific counterpart, who also happen to be chasing them in the standings.

Unfortunately, that pre-game excitement has turned to post-game angst. Tonight’s 4-2 loss extends the losing streak to four games and makes the playoff outlook a bit murkier.

The first period was forgettable for the Canucks, who took a couple of penalties, allowed a goal, and lost the shot battle. Thatcher Demko and the Canucks settled in following the Coyotes opening goal and were able to come out in the 2nd with a bit more jump.

Demko piled up some quality saves, including a breakaway stop on Taylor Hall, to keep his team in it. As the game went on he played increasingly well, which may have added to the suspense when he went down in a collision with Taylor Hall.

The Canucks offense started to heat up, throwing more rubber on Darcy Kuemper in the middle frame. However, despite carrying more of the play, they didn’t have anything to show for it until the third.

Tyler Toffoli rose to the occasion tying the game at ones on an absolute snipe on the powerplay. It was the third opportunity on the man advantage and the Canucks finally started to look like themselves on it. It also proved to be the spark this game needed.

What was a game with hardly any goals in sight, quickly became littered with them as the lead shifted back to the Coyotes. Two goals scored 2:29 apart, gave the bad guys a 3-2 lead and they never looked back.

The Canucks tried to mount a late comeback, but to no avail. It was Oliver Ekman-Larsson who capped the win for the Coyotes with the late empty netter.

Lines

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Tyler Myers was ruled out with an undisclosed injury, forcing Jordie Benn into the lineup. It was the first instance that Travis Green has played a defenceman on his off side, but as many noted pre-game, it was something Benn has done frequently over the course of his career. Quinn Hughes was also a question mark prior to puck drop, but eventually suited up, although there were moments where he didn’t quite look to be back at 100%.

Not to go unnoticed was Jake Virtanen’s start on the fourth line. While it raised eyebrows early on, it didn’t take long for Virtanen to earn a promotion, as we saw him switch places with Loui Eriksson a couple times throughout the night.

In the continued absence of Jacob Markstrom, the Canucks went back to Thatcher Demko.

Highlights

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The Yotes hit the scoresheet first off what may be the luckiest goal I’ve seen all season. The unfortunate bounce for the Canucks was the result of a clearing attempt that hit the stick of Carl Soderberg and trickle in off the back of Demko.

It was a pretty PP marker from the newest Canuck that tied the game. Assists went to Miller and Hughes.

The Canucks took the lead on this rush that featured Tanner Pearson drive to the net and finish off his skate.

Stats

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Game Notes

  • Quinn Hughes was questionable for tonight’s game and looked like he was battling through something. It wasn’t the strongest game for the Canucks’ best defenceman, but after countless spectacular performances, it should be easier to put this one behind us and hope he’s able to recover from whatever ails him.
  • Jordie Benn was so much better playing his off side. It’s unusual for that to be the case with ordinary defencemen, but Benn seems to be the exception. He led the team with the best on-ice CF%.
  • With this 4th consecutive loss, the two games in hand is the only thing keeping them in a playoff spot as they’re now tied with the Jets and Coyotes in points.
  • The top line wasn’t able to generate many high danger scoring chances. They sustained offensive pressure at times, but didn’t have anything to show for it. A rare off night for the trio at 5 on 5.
  • Kuemeper was a difference-maker against the Canucks, turning aside 36 shots in his return.

 

Top Performers

  • Demko played a solid game as eyes were still on him with Markstrom’s absence. While the scoresheet will show three goals allowed, two of them weren’t on him. The first was a fluke deflection off his back and in, while the third Coyotes goal was deflected 5 feet out.
  • Like his dog, Virtanen was flying tonight. Virtanen started on the fourth line, but soon became the preferred option over Eriksson to flank Horvat’s wing. He finished with 5 shots, 3 high danger shot attempts and drew the penalty that led to the Toffoli goal.