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Instant Reaction: JT Miller goes beast mode before Canucks hang Demko out to dry in OT loss to Penguins

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 month ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Wyatt Arndt is on Stanchies and Mike Liu will have The Statsies up tomorrow morning!
This game was interesting. Sidney Crosby forced Demko to make a nice save early on.
As you’ll see soon, this save gave the Canucks some early momentum.
Nils Höglander opened the scoring after a strong shift for the Elias Pettersson line. Special shoutout to Ilya Mikheyev for his work in front of the net on this goal, but of course, Nils Höglander’s effort on this goal is what led to the Canucks leading this game.
Teddy Blueger drew a penalty to give the Canucks their second power play attempt of the game. The “second” unit, the one that was on the bench during the first power play, got their shot, and Brock Boeser made no mistake to make it 2-0.
Boeser has gotten so good at playing the bumper spot on the power play. Perfect timing on that shift into open ice and even more perfect pass from JT Miller.
The Canucks got another late power play opportunity when Jesse Puljujarvi tripped up Elias Pettersson to give the “second” power play unit another chance to go to work. They had just 30 seconds to work with though, and the only chance they got was a Brock Boeser wrister that Tristan Jarry gloved away.
 
The Penguins killed off the remainder of the penalty to open the second period, and shortly after, pulled within one after a rare costly turnover from Teddy Blueger.
The Canucks’ second period was quickly shaping up to be worse than their first one, as the home team gave Pittsburgh a prime opportunity to get back in the game when Nikita Zadorov and Tyler Myers took minor penalties in rapid succession. This, of course, was how the Canucks completely broke down against the Minnesota Wild not all that long ago. And yes, they gave up the tying goal:
Now back on a traditional 5-on-4 penalty kill, JT Miller continued his run of dominance that legitimately has me — somebody who votes on the NHL awards — if he might enter the Hart Trophy conversation at some point if he keeps this up. He’s played matchup minutes all season long, and he’s currently fifth in the NHL scoring race. He’s scored timely goals, and he’s without question been the Canucks’ most valuable forward this season. If I had to submit a ballot right now, it would probably look like this:
Nathan MacKinnon
Connor McDavid
Auston Matthews
Quinn Hughes
Nikita Kucherov/JT Miller
Usually, whoever I put as my first place Norris vote gets a spot near the bottom of my Hart ballot, and right now, that’s Quinn Hughes. David Pastrnak probably gets the fifth spot, but it’s crazy that JT Miller is finding himself in the conversation. He’s received votes before, but those all seemed a bit guerilla in nature, and quite frankly, not really earned. This season though? I’m guessing he’ll get more than two votes — the most he’s ever gotten in a season before.
Anyways, here’s the goal that Miller scored while shorthanded:
In the third period, the Canucks were in protect mode as they looked to make it back-to-back wins on home ice.
A Pittsburgh power play gave JT Miller another chance to simply show off how well he’s playing right now. He disrupted the Pittsburgh power play and set up Ilya Mikheyev for a grade-A chance out of nowhere.
It was a strong shift shorthanded that ended with the Rogers Arena crowd busting out a JT Miller chant.
Hart. Trophy. *consideration
Shortly after, we saw some bad defensive zone coverage from the Elias Pettersson line, and just like that, this game was tied up.
Juulsen was shaken up on this play, so he’s basically void of criticism here. What you would like to see is for Höglander to realize he needs to take Eller instead of going out to the point, and you’d also probably like to see Pettersson move his feet and get back into the middle of the ice.
But that’s not what happened, and this game needed overtime to find a winner.
In OT, the Penguins controlled possession for the first minute. In the second minute, we saw some back and forth chaos, and a huge save from Thatcher Demko. In the third minute, the Canucks put on an absolute masterclass on leaving your goaltender out to dry. First, there was this sequence that came after a questionable pinch from Elias Pettersson:
Then, Conor Garland bobbled the puck and gave it right back to the Penguins, leading to Pittsburgh icing this one — but not before one more outstanding save from Demko:
An absolute masterclass.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!

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