It may have been 2000s Night at Rogers Arena, but it was the Colorado Avalanche who were doing their best West Coast Express impression in the first period. The Canucks were opportunistic early, finishing scoring chances which allowed them to have the lead after 20 minutes. They came out in the second period with a better performance and held the Avs to one goal and 14 shots in the final two periods. Thatcher Demko made timely saves throughout the game. For a team that has had its struggles closing out games, the Canucks were able to get in done against the second best team in the West and jump back into the first wild card seed.
Troy from Richmond grew up watching the 2000s Canucks and fittingly scored the games opening goal for this fifth of the year. Alex Edler had the secondary helper on Stecher’s goal, for his 300th assist of his career. The Avalanche had the first power play but they couldn’t beat Thatcher Demko after he made two timely saves. The Avs took over the momentum from that point on, but Tyler Toffoli was able to pick up his eighth point in eight games with the Canucks when he banked a puck off the boards right to Petey, who displayed poise and patience as he waited and delivered the perfect pass right to the red hot J.T. Miller who made no mistake and found the back of the net. The Avs kept the pressure on the Canucks, Erik Johnson beat Demko for a weak goal through his five-hole bringing the Avs within a goal. They outplayed and outshot the Canucks 18-7 in the first period.
The Big Fella, Zack MacEwen, scored early in the second period off a nice feed from Antoine Roussel. He scored on the Canucks’ eighth shot of the game. Once again, the Avs quickly responded with a goal of their own from Gabriel Landeskog. They continued to put the Canucks under duress, when Demko channeled his inner Luongo and made a glorious save keeping the Canucks up by a goal. However, that was short lived when Valeri Nichushkin capitalized on an odd man rush with Tyler Myers as the lone man back. The back and forth battle continued on, Adam Gaudette flexed his edge work, created space and set Roussel up for his 7th goal of the season putting the Canucks back up by a goal. The second period was a better effort from the Canucks they flipped the script from the first period and outshot the Avs 10-5.
The Canucks kicked off the third period with their second power play opportunity which turned into a two-man advantage for ten seconds. They went 0-3 with the Avs clogging passing and shooting lanes, making life difficult for the Canucks man advantage. The Avs pressed hard in the final ten minutes, but couldn’t take advantage of the Canucks turnovers. The Big Fella would not be denied tonight and netted his second of the game from linemates Gaudette and Roussel. With the Canucks up by two goals, the Avs pulled Pavel Francouz which meant it was time for Tanner Pearson and Loui Eriksson to shine. Loui set up Pearson for his sixth empty net goal. He now has nine empty net points on the year.
- The Canucks were dominate in the face off circle tonight. No one was under 50% and they won 58.7% overall.
- Chris Tanev is self-sacrificing, shot-blocking machine. He is now second in the league in shots blocked. Tonight, he was impersonating Sami Salo, with eight savage shot blocks including a Nathan MacKinnon attempt to keep the Canucks up by a goal.
- The third line featuring The Big Fella had a great night. He had two goals, drew the Canucks first power play, had four hits and lead the team with 85.39 xGF%.
- Elias Pettersson had zero shots on net.
Loui Eriksson is a better fit on the second line than Jake Virtanen. He is more defensibly responsible and better offensively as well.
There are better options however, the Canucks are missing Brock Boeser and Josh Leivo. They bring a balance to the lineup that is much needed. I think Tyler Toffoli should be moved to the second line because Petey and Miller are capable of carrying a player like Jake Virtanen and it would allow Bo Horvat’s line a fighting chance to put up points on a nightly basis.