CanucksArmy post game: The Canucks’ power play moved-moved, shaked-shaked and rocked their way to a 6-3 win over the Stars
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Faber1 year ago
A rare Sunday night game appeared!
The Vancouver Canucks hosted the Dallas Stars for the sixth game of their seven-game homestand.
It was time for the special teams units to show up and half of them did in a big way. The power play scored three goals with the team putting more emphasis on movement and each of the five players taking shots.
There were changes to the lineup and the special teams units after a tough loss on Friday night where the power play and penalty kill cost the Canucks another game on their homestand. Friday’s loss brought the Canucks’ home record to 1-4-0 on the year.
Justin Dowling came into the lineup with Alex Chiasson FINALLY coming out of the lineup. Dowling slid onto the fourth line to play alongside Juho Lammikko and Justin Bailey. Brock Boeser reunited with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller to form the Lotto Line and Conor Garland slid down to play with Jason Dickinson and Vasily Podkolzin.
Podkolzin has been working around the power play units at practice all season long and earned his chance on Sunday night when his number was called to replace Chiasson on the second unit.
A late change to the lineup had Kyle Burroughs drawing in for Brad Hunt, who skated on the third pairing at the morning skate. Burroughs was set to play his off-side on a third pairing with Travis Hamonic.
The Canucks needed to get their special teams going while also taking advantage of one of the only teams that score fewer goals per game than them. This season, the Stars have scored 2.03 goals per 60 minutes while the Canucks are just ahead of them, scoring 2.32 goals per 60.
Anton Khudobin received the call from Rick Bowness to patrol the crease for the Stars while Thatcher Demko was between the pipes for his tenth start of the season. Khudobin had a sub-.900 save percentage coming into Sunday night and in this battle of low scoring teams, the Canucks needed to take advantage of the Stars running their backup goalie in net.
It was Hockey Fights Cancer night at Rogers Arena as the Canucks honoured Terry Fox and donated $20,000 to the Terry Fox Foundation prior to puck drop.
It was a big game for the Canucks to help salvage the homestand or watch it slip away.
The ice was fresh, the players were lined up and that means it’s game time.
The Canucks began the game with Conor Garland coming down the right wing with pace. He then fired the puck into the corner, retrieved it, and had a good scoring chance when he came out from behind the net and ripped a backhand into the glove of Khudobin.
The Canucks controlled much of the possession up to the first commercial break. Each of the lines managed to gain the offensive zone and the Canucks’ most impressive line in the early stages looked to be the fourth line. Dowling almost drew a penalty after some work in the offensive zone. Bailey used his speed to gain the zone on a couple of occasions and had the Canucks’ fourth line spending most of their time in the right end of the ice.
Just before the midway point of the period, Pettersson and Boeser had a two-on-one but the Stars’ defenceman played the Tyler Myers laydown card and executed it to perfection to take away both the shot and the passing lane from Pettersson.
The player who was struggling the most was Jason Dickinson. He was fumbling passes that he received in the neutral zone and seems to be the point of death for offensive zone time as he lost multiple possessions in the first period. He was playing alongside Podkolzin and Garland who were both looking good at moving the puck into the offensive zone and extending possessions once it was in there.
Thatcher Demko made an unbelievable save on Jamie Benn during a two-on-one. The pass was made across to Benn and Demko stoned him with the stick as he dove across the crease.
Quinn Hughes took a penalty just seconds later and that gave the Stars their first power play of the game.
With the Hughes penalty, the Stars went to work against the Canucks’ horrible penalty kill and Joe Pavelski scored a quick one to give the Stars a lead as the period was heading into its final stages. 1-0 Stars.
The Canucks’ penalty kill efficiency slid under 66.6% as they are now successfully killing off less than two-thirds of their penalties.
Nils Höglander continued to play well and dangled through the neutral zone before setting up Tanner Pearson for a chance in tight on Khudobin. Pearson didn’t get all of his shot and Khudobin made a save as he slid to his right.
Thoughts from the first
It was a good first half for the Canucks but the Stars battled back in the latter stages and ended up coming out of the first 20 minutes with a 1-0 lead. Dickinson and Pearson were the two players who stuck out as having a bad 20 minutes of play. Both of the two forwards were not able to extend offensive zone time and that cost the Canucks.
The Canucks had six high-danger chances at five-on-five compared to the Stars only having one.
Demko’s diving paddle save was immaculate. It was the play of the period and will land him another spot on the plays of the month for November.
It was another good shift for Höglander to start the period and he helped create a scoring chance and draw a penalty.
The Canucks did what everyone has been screaming for and fired a shot on net early. J.T. Miller received a pass from Hughes at the point, walked in on the left side, and wired a wrist shot into the top corner past Khudobin. 1-1 after the Miller goal.
Just two shifts later, Miller was sent in on a breakaway from a stretch pass off of Hughes’ stick. Miller went with a shot on Khudobin’s blocker side but was unable to beat the Stars’ goaltender.
Radek Faska kneed Podkolzin and that set the Canucks up for their second power play of the night.
The power play looked exceptional on their second attempt after scoring on their first. They moved the puck with authority, rotated positions, and it resulted in Pettersson being at the top of the umbrella and ripping a wrist show into the deepest point of the corner for his second goal of the season. 2-1 Canucks.
That was the best the Canucks’ power play has looked all season.
They built on their momentum with the Horvat line going to work. Höglander made some great plays to extend the possession and the puck found Pearson’s stick. Pearson quickly fired a low shot on Khudobin and the rebound found Horvat, who buried it along the ice. 3-1 Canucks.
The Stars came right back as Travis Hamonic completely opened up the middle of the ice for Luke Glendening to come right down on Demko and bury the goal that cut the lead to one. 3-2 Canucks after the Glendening goal.
Vancouver went back to the power play in a busy period that continued to stay busy when the Stars took another penalty to give the Canucks a five-on-three for 70 seconds. The Canucks had a few chances but the Stars were able to kill off both penalties and gained a lot of momentum from it as they came down and had pressure on Demko for the next couple of minutes.
The Canucks came right back with a two-on-one as Garland flew down the left wing, did an excellent job deceiving the defender with the look of firing a shot, and then without looking, flung the puck over to Podkolzin. Podkolzin didn’t hesitate as he ripped a shot into the top of the net and gave the Canucks a two-goal lead. 4-2 Canucks.
Late in the period, Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a tremendously weak slashing and then cross-checking penalty to give the Stars four minutes of power play time.
The Canucks killed off 19 seconds of the power play and went into the locker room with a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Thoughts from the second
It was a dominant 20 minutes for the Canucks, likely their best scoring period of the season. The Canucks had 15 scoring chances thanks in part to ample power play time.
Their power play finally had movement and it looked excellent for the first time all season. Pettersson, Hughes, and Miller were rotating well at the top of the power play. On top of that, Boeser and Horvat were rotating in the bumper and net-front positions to create more confusion to the penalty kill unit and it resulted in the Canucks being able to find new passing lanes and have the man-advantage look effective
The Canucks continued to kill the four minutes with OEL in the box. They limited the scoring chances to a couple of Tyler Seguin shots that missed the net before the Stars finally broke through with a shot that was tipped in by Benn past Demko to bring them within one goal. 4-3 Canucks after the Benn goal.
Boeser was dragged down as he came down the right wing and it sent the Canucks to the power play with 12:33 remaining.
Dallas killed off the penalty and with 10 minutes remaining, the Canucks clung to a one-goal lead as they outshot the Stars 32-23 with 10:26 remaining in the period.
With 7:19 remaining, Ryan Suter took a high-sticking penalty and gave the Canucks a gift of a power play for the chance to extend their lead late in the game.
The Canucks went to work and created a goal due to their movement once again. Miller made a play on the left wall before coming around the net and rotating to the right side where he drilled a one-timer and beat Khudobin to give the Canucks a two-goal lead. 5-3 Canucks after Miller’s second power play goal.
Khudobin went off for the extra attacker with three minutes remaining and Brock Boeser scored the empty net goal with 2:21 remaining. 6-3 Canucks.
The entire first power play unit.
Boeser did an excellent job working around the net. The umbrella boys of Hughes, Pettersson, and Miller were rotating and forcing their opponents to work while Horvat did his thing in the bumper and had a scoring chance or two of his own while also working hard to retrieve pucks in the corners.
The story of the night was the power play.
It felt like the Canucks figured it all out today and it came from what sounded like a very important six-man conversation after morning skate today. Both Travis Green and J.T. Miller spoke about how important this morning’s conversation was. Pettersson spoke about all five players needing to look at themselves as scoring threats at all times and that showed with the rotations creating new shooing lanes.
“I think today we flipped it and everybody was a shooter,” said Pettersson. “We switched positions, and made it harder for their PK to read us — it gave us different looks. We’ve been successful when we are moving it around and switching positions. We were just trying to come up with new ways and get some movement and let our skill take over.”
Travis Green was also happy with the power play’s performance on Sunday night.
“It was really nice,” said Green when asked about how nice it was to see his power play breakthrough on Sunday. “We’ve done a lot of talking with that group over the past few days and they got the job done tonight.”
Movement, creativity, and now confidence after a three-goal performance will surely jumpstart the power play as the team closes out their seven-game homestand with a Tuesday night affair against the Anaheim Ducks.
It was a scoring show against one of the best defensive teams in the league and the Canucks should really be proud of what they did on Sunday night. They will now need to build on this and begin to put some wins together so that they can start to battle back into the playoff conversation. It’s still very early but the Canucks need to get some wins going if they want to be playing meaningful games into March and onwards.
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