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Scenes from morning skate: Demko chases a Swayman hug and franchise history as Canucks face Bruins

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Photo credit:© Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
13 days ago
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It’s always an event when the Vancouver Canucks (34-11-5) face off against the Boston Bruins (31-10-9). It’s even more so when they are their respective Conference leaders and the top two teams in the overall National Hockey League standings.  
It’s the first of two meetings between these teams this month with the Bruins visiting Vancouver on February 24th. It’s also the first since Thatcher Demko’s highly-publicized hug snub of Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman at last week’s All Star event.

What we saw

There will be no changes to a Canucks lineup that beat Carolina 3-2 on Tuesday in its first game back from the All-Star break. Elias Lindholm scored a pair of power play goals in his Canucks debut and JT Miller broke a 2-2 tie with the game winner early in the third period.
Thatcher Demko chases a piece of Canucks history tonight. On Tuesday, he matched Dan Cloutier for the Canucks’ franchise record for consecutive victories by a netminder posting his ninth in a row. Demko is now 15-1-1 in his last 17 starts.
With Lindholm fitting seamlessly into the Canucks top power play unit, the team went two for three in Carolina and has now struck for five goals in the past two games. Over the last six outings, the Canucks are nine for 21 (42.9%) with the man-advantage.
Captain Quinn Hughes set up both Lindholm power play markers to extend his point streak to seven games (1+12=13). He’s up to 64 points through 50 games as he works his way to the 76-points he generated last season.
As a team, the Canucks are 10-0-2 in their last 12 games and a remarkable 18-2-4 in their last 24 contests.
The Bruins fell 4-1 to Andrei Kuzmenko and the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Pavel Zacha scored the B’s lone goal on a third period power play. 
Despite the setback, Boston is still 12-3-3 in its last 18 games and is second only to Edmonton in points gained since Christmas. No team in the league has scored more goals than the Bruins over that stretch. 
The Bruins are led in scoring by David Pastrnak who has 33+40=73 and has a 26-point lead on Brad Marchand atop the Boston scoring derby. Pastrnak sits third in both NHL scoring and goal-scoring behind Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov in points and Auston Matthews and Sam Reinhart in goals.
Pastrnak has been as hot as just about anybody in the league since Christmas. He has 13+16=29 in 18 games since the break. Nathan MacKinnon is the only player with more points over the past six weeks with 31. On the season, Pastrnak leads the NHL with 251 shots on goal which is 16 more than MacKinnon and 38 ahead of Kucherov.
Boston has been to overtime in 15 of its 50 games this season. Twelve of those games have been settled in OT (4-8) while just three have required a shootout (2-1).
The last time these teams met on February 25, 2023, Linus Ullmark punctuated the Bruins’ 3-1 victory with an empty net goal at Rogers Arena. Ullmark is expected to get the start in goal tonight. He is 15-6-2 on the season with a 2.78 GAA and a .915 save percentage. With Ullmark getting the start, the game will lack the drama of a Thatcher Demko vs Jeremy Swayman match-up. By the sounds of it, Demko did his part this morning to put an end to the hug snub saga.
Tonight’s referees: Ghislain Hebert and Kendrick Nicholson

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on keys to facing the Bruins: “If you make critical mistakes, they make you pay. Their hockey IQ is outstanding. They’re well coached. You’re getting a very smart team. So we have to play to our abilities when it comes to smarts, too.”
Rick Tocchet excited for tonight’s contest between conference leaders: “I love these types of games. You always want to be involved in these as a coach or a player. You want to go against one of the best. This is going to be a fun game to coach and I hope the players are going to be excited about playing this type of hockey.”
Elias Pettersson on battle of top two teams in NHL tonight: “Boston’s a great team. We have to continue to do what we’ve been doing well. Just enjoy the game tonight. It’s going to be a fun one — I hope — but it’s definitely a good challenge and hopefully we’re ready for the opportunity.”

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

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