Coming off of two losses, the Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their four-game road trip with their second game against Jacob Markstrom and the Calgary Flames.
This game had two sides: the first period which was all Canucks, and the Flames’ domination the rest of the way as the Canucks lost their third game in a row to a 5-2 count.
J.T. Miller made his season debut on Monday night. The top six had been thrown into a blender for two-thirds of each of their two previous losses and Miller’s presence helped stabilize the top-six group. With Miller in the lineup, that meant that Jake Virtanen was moved down to the third line to skate with Antoine Roussel and Adam Gaudette.
Virtanen didn’t have a good fit alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser on the first line. Both of that line’s two goals this season have come from Boeser goals. Those two goals came from astonishing passes from their superstars Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. Virtanen just didn’t bring enough to that line and now will work his skills in the bottom six.
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) January 19, 2021
It was reported early Monday that the starters were Markstrom and Thatcher Demko.
That sentence still doesn’t feel right…
The duo that the Canucks leaned on all of last season now turned into crease combatants on Monday night. Markstrom was coming off of a 32 save shutout performance on Saturday against the Canucks. Demko was well-rested as he has not played since Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
It was time for the Canucks to attempt a bounce-back game of their own.
The Canucks quickly went to the power play as Gaudette drew a tripping call 2:32 into the period.
The first unit looked to have more movement and good strong passes early on. The addition of Miller was immediately noticeable as the group looked dangerous once again. The second group came out and made some good plays of their own including a one timer rip on a great cross-ice pass from Virtanen to Gaudette.
With 9:43 remaining, Virtanen gained the zone and pedalled back before firing a shot on the net that took a bounce off a Flames defenceman and into the back of the net. It was #shotgun time and the Canucks were up 1-0 halfway through the first period.
Throw it on goal and good things happen, right @Jake_Virtanen!! 😎
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 19, 2021
Miller received the only assist on the goal. It sure is good to have him back.
Gaudette stole a puck and had his third individual grade-A scoring chance of the period. His line was skating well with the puck as they were matched up against the weaker Flames defencemen and bottom-six forward lines. The Canucks earned their second power play late in the period.
The highlight (or lowlight) was a 2-on-0 breakaway for Boeser and Pettersson. The two stars just missed a tap in for Pettersson before they swapped for the second unit.
Boeser took a delay of game penalty with just a few seconds left in the period.
It was utter dominance for the Canucks in the first 20 minutes. They outshot the Flames 14-4 while attempting 27 shots in the period. The scoring chances were also in favour of the Canucks as they had 14 scoring chances compared to the Flames’ four.
Hughes led the way with 8:19 of ice time and Gaudette led the way in shots on net with five, and scoring chances with six.
The Canucks killed off the remainder of the power play and immediately went to work on their own man advantage. Antoine Roussel was tripped as the penalty kill was just finishing up.
The Canucks weren’t able to score with the man advantage and that brought their season total to 0-for-14.
After the kill, the Flames took over with an extended shift in the Canucks zone. The Flames came out with a lot of energy in the second period and they drew another power play with 12:53 remaining.
The Canucks killed off this power play attempt and needed to get something going as they were being outshot 13-1 just past the halfway point of the period.
With 7:55 remaining, the Flames pinned the Canucks in their own zone and finally broke through the Demko wall. Johnny Gaudreau fired one through a crowd and right into the back of the net to tie the game 1-1.
The Flames got right back to their scoring ways just a minute and a half later as Mikael Backlund scored with 6:30 remaining to make it 2-1 Flames.
After the Flames’ second goal, Gaudette took a minor penalty for a cross-check to the back of Noah Hanifin.
The Canucks’ penalty killers looked much better through the first 38 minutes as they held the Flames scoreless on their first three attempts.
After those 38 minutes, everything went south quick.
Pettersson took his second penalty of the game with 1:46 remaining in the period. Tyler Myers punched Matthew Tkachuk in the face after a whistle and the Flames went to work for a 5-on-3 power play.
The Flames scored a buzzer-beater with the two-man advantage to make it 3-1 as the teams went to the dressing room for the second intermission.
It was a tale of two periods. In the second frame, the Flames had 17 scoring chances to the Canucks’ one. The Canucks were outshot 3-20 in the middle period and saw their one-goal lead dissipate into a two-goal deficit after 40 minutes.
The Canucks killed off the remainder of the Myers penalty and the game was finally back to even strength.
Roussel took a penalty with 15:01 remaining just as the pace of play was beginning to ramp up at 5-on-5.
Mark Giordano blasted a slap shot from the slot after Hamonic sent the puck out from behind the net. 4-1 Flames after the goal from their captain.
The Canucks were beginning to run out of time in this game. They couldn’t put three passes together to gain the offensive zone and the Flames continued to dump and chase the game away.
The Canucks took their seventh penalty of the game with 7:31 remaining in the game.
Just when it looked like the Flames were about to put this game away, Myers attempted a pass across to Roussel during a 2-on-1. It deflected off Giordano and past Markstrom for a shorthanded goal. 4-2 Flames after the Canucks’ shorthanded goal.
Down by two, the Canucks pulled their goalie with four and a half minutes remaining.
The Canucks drew a power play with 3:04 remaining after bringing plenty of pressure with the extra man.
The Flames killed off the penalty and then fired a puck down the ice into the yawning cage to cap things off. 5-2 Flames.
Someone asked for individual Corsi numbers in the comments of the last postgame article, so here it is!
Adam Gaudette’s first period: After a first period that saw him have five shots on net and six scoring chances, Gaudette did hustle throughout the game but the Canucks as a whole were just bad in the final 40 minutes.
Tyler Myers: He scored a shorthanded goal and played with intensity throughout the game. Myers led the Canucks in ice time with 23:49.
The Canucks had an excellent first period but everything just fell off after that.
The Flames outshot the Canucks 28-11 in the final 40 minutes and were able to have six straight power plays in the middle of the game. The Canucks looked to have some jump today, but they consistently shot themselves in the foot with the number of penalties that they took.
“I was just disappointed in myself for taking another stupid penalty,” said Pettersson when asked about taking his second penalty in the game.
You don’t win a lot of games where you take seven penalties and the Canucks learned that lesson on Monday.
The Canucks are back in action on Wednesday night when they begin their first homestand of the season with three games in four nights against the Montreal Canadiens.