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Instant Reaction: Vancouver Canucks clinch Pacific Division title with 4-1 win over Flames

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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! Cody Severtson is on The Stanchies and Mike Liu will have The Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report — up tomorrow morning. 
This game was on fan appreciation night, and the fans must have felt appreciated after this one.
Pius Suter had the game’s first great chance after JT Miller set him up with a great slap pass off the rush. Unfortunately, Suter couldn’t make contact with the puck, and this one remained scoreless.
Four minutes into the game, the Flames had yet to record a shot while the Canucks tallied three. The hits? 4-1 Canucks. Faceoffs? 4-0 Canucks. It was a polar opposite start for the Canucks than the one they turned in Saturday in Edmonton. In that game, they needed Casey DeSmith to bail them out early on, and he ultimately gave them a chance to put the hammer down on the Connor McDavid-less Oilers.
Tonight, though, Thatcher Demko was making his return to action for the first time since March 9th. The last thing the Canucks wanted was for a barrage of chances against to serve as their star goaltender’s welcome-back gift.
No, they left it to the officials to give Demko his welcome-back present, which was a phantom “elbowing” call against Dakota Joshua to put the Canucks down shorthanded early. Rick Tocchet, as you may have guessed, wasn’t very happy about that call.
But there was no reason to fret, because Tyler Myers, who was not named the team’s best defenceman via the fan-voted team awards tonight, joined the rush while shorthanded.
Shortly after, Ilya Mikheyev made a beautiful feed to Elias Pettersson, who set up Nils Höglander for a tap-in goal to make it 2-0 Canucks before the end of the first period.
In the second period, the Canucks continued to press, and Dakota Joshua wasted little time in extending the Canucks’ lead to three.
If you were wondering whether it would take Thatcher Demko much time to get back to game speed, you got your answer pretty early in this one.
Like they did against Edmonton, the Canucks looked comfortable defending the lead tonight. They were first on pucks, they worked harder than Calgary did, and they certainly looked like a team deserving of finishing at the top of the Pacific Division.
This was an entertaining game, and a skirmish late in the second period showed some high intensity. It also led us to one of the best soundbites of the year, where Filip Hronek reminded the Flames bench that they get to leave work early this year.
In the third, the Canucks were in protect mode, and Quinn Hughes certainly got the memo.
So did Thatcher Demko, who was as steady as ever all throughout this one.
JT Miller put the icing on the cake when he scored the Canucks’ fourth goal of the night by scoring the third Canucks goal of the night to beat Jacob Markstrom on the blocker side tonight.
With the win, the Canucks have officially clinched the Pacific Division title. If Dallas loses in regulation tomorrow night, a Canucks win on Thursday night in Winnipeg would make the Canucks the Western Conference champions. This would give them the Vegas Golden Knights or LA Kings in round one. All eyes will be on that game between the Stars and Blues tomorrow.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!
Be sure to tune in and interact with Jeff Paterson and Irfaan Gaffar on Rink Wide LIVE moments after the game! You can watch the live stream below, and we’ll have coverage all throughout the playoffs as well!

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