CanucksArmy post game: Canucks take game one of road trip in season sweep of Rangers
Photo credit:© Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
The Vancouver Canucks kicked off their four-game eastern swing in the big apple against a well-worked New York Rangers squad who has seen action three times in four nights
When these two met last at Rogers Arena in November, it took three periods for Vancouver to draw even after surrendering two power play goals in the second frame. J.T. Miller notched the first Canucks goal of the game and followed it up with an overtime winner against the team that drafted him 15th overall in 2011.
Vancouver was without centreman Jason Dickinson, who did not travel with the team after he awkwardly collided with the boards on Thursday night. As a result, Alex Chiasson slotted in for his first game since February 12th and Miller flipped to third-line centre.
The Canucks did, however, benefit from the Rangers’ untimely schedule which set up a goaltender matchup between Thatcher Demko, who has only lost one of his last five starts, and Alexandar Georgiev, who was set to play in his first game in a month.
Here is how the Canucks lined up against the Rangers.
The Canucks logged the first shot of the game in their first appearance in Madison Square Garden in over two years and did a good job of muscling bodies early. From there on out, it was the man in between the Vancouver pipes who denied grade-A chances left and right, starting with the Rangers’ second-best point-getter, Mika Zibanejad.
The Rangers continued to berate Demko with lateral moving passes at the side of the net to no avail. Much like his last appearance against the Flames, Demko gave his team a fighting chance to draw first blood, and they responded accordingly.
Miller countered back with his first helper of the game to Tanner Pearson in the high slot, after Pearson kept the puck in at the line. 1-0 Canucks. The Miller line was a sore thumb for the Rangers for the first 20 minutes of play.
The game could have easily been tied by a following Chris Kreider opportunity at the front of the net, if not for the brilliance of Demko, who brings a level of easiness and stability to this team. Demko out-competed his opposition by being an anchor in net and anticipating the play without jumping the gun.
He would remain perfect after a Luke Scheen delay of game penalty put the league’s fourth-best powerplay to work. The penalty kill unit managed to forge entries for the greater half of the penalty, blocking shots and winning draws before the Rangers could get set up and find Kreider once more for another redirect in front fought off by Demko. Julien Gauthier entered the zone with a ton of speed from the right side and whistled it wide for an odd-man Canuck rush, which failed to hit the net.
The Canucks were unable to test the Rangers goalie who showed visible signs of rust after taking a hooking call, which was killed off.
It all started with a big save. Tyler Myers tallied his first goal of the season, with his family in attendance, after Demko made a ridiculous save on none other than Kreider in his wheelhouse in tight. Myers ripped a wrister glove side off a Miller pass, for Miller’s eighth point on the last 11 goals. 2-0 Canucks.
Myers’ brother, Quentin Grimes of the New York Knicks, tweeted out shortly after the goal, “When your brother just scored a goal in the same arena you play in.”
Heading into the second, Vancouver, who were 9-11-1 against Eastern Conference competition, had a pivotal two-goal cushion.
Vancouver started the middle frame with the first shot and got the better half of the home team, who only managed six shots in the period.
Boudreau’s unbreakable pairing added to the scoresheet once more after a Juho Lammikko tip beat the goaltender post and in from a Luke Scheen shot on the half-wall, making it his third goal in the last six games. 3-0 Canucks.
Aim for three: The Canucks are 21-3-0 when scoring three or more.
The momentum was momentarily stifled after Brock Boeser was penalized for hooking. But two brilliant consecutive Miller blocks, alongside clears, and key Demko saves, kept the Canucks unscathed on the last Rangers power play, and extended their penalty kill streak to three games.
Shortly after, the Canucks converted on their first and only power play of the matchup. After keeping tired New York penalty killers in their own zone for 1:51 seconds, Vancouver got fresh bodies on the ice for an offensive faceoff. It took the second unit less than nine seconds to find the back of the net after birthday boy Matthew Highmore cashed in on his first career powerplay point courtesy of an Oliver-Ekman Larsson wrist shot. 4-0 Canucks.
Although it wasn’t quite the magical middle frame they had in Calgary, the Canucks doubled their lead and traded tight-kit chances for redirections at the front of the net from outside shots — which the Canucks were more than content in taking.
With the finish line in sight, the Rangers turned on the heat in the last half of the frame to give this game a little extra flair, with the Canucks pushing thirty shots early.
Demko doubled down on another vintage-esque save with a sliding one-knee-down save at the side of the net in the initial moments of the third.
The final frame was full of equal opportunity until the nearing of the ten-minute mark, in which an easy Travis Hamonic clear found Zibanejad, who made no mistake about feeding a trailing Alexis Lafreniere, who wisely got the puck off his stick fast enough to give Demko no shot of sliding over in time. 4-1 Rangers.
Rangers continued their late push, and nearly came close to another goal by Kreider whose wraparound was shut down by a sprawling Demko — who had his number all night long.
Much to fans’ dismay, the Rangers did end up getting within two after a puck thrown at the net by the point made its way through a screen of bodies and found Ryan Strome. 4-2 Rangers.
Madison Square Garden had come alive and so had the Rangers’ offence. However, Horvat would have none of Barclay Gaudreau’s drive to the net to draw the penalty, using his stick to steer the puck away, and causing an uproar.
Unable to equalize at five-on-five for the moment, the Rangers pulled their goalie for an extra attacker with 3:04 remaining. Boudreau met the challenge with his Lammikko line.
After the Rangers’ best chance on an Adam Fox shot, Demko rimmed the puck out of the zone and found Elias Pettersson, whose backhander sealed the deal and gave Demko his third career point. 5-2 Canucks.
If you aren’t convinced Pettersson is back to form, why not watch him land a reverse hit?
And with that, the Canucks get a much-needed win to start the road trip, which sees them face off against the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night for a classic Hughes vs Hughes showdown.
The Canucks got their hardest matchup out of the way with the exception of the Leafs in a commanding effort. Although things became sloppy at times in the third period, and Demko was lights out in the first, all-in-all, it was a solid defensive effort, capped off by some more backend points.
As of right now, the Canucks restore their three-point deficit in the race for the second wildcard spot, which is occupied by the Dallas Stars. Jaroslav Halak will have to be dialled in early, and special teams need to continue to bring the heat.
And to close it out, Highmore earned the Canucks’ post game championship belt for his third career multi-point game, although Demko was once again the first star of the night.
The Canucks will take on the Devils tomorrow for a 4:30 afternoon start before clashing with the Islanders on Thursday.
Let’s hope they can light the lamp for the remainder of the trip as much as they have in the past two games.
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