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Scenes from morning skate: Focus the key as Canucks face Columbus in final game before All-Star break

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
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The Vancouver Canucks (32-11-5) look to head into the All Star break on a winning note when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets (15-23-9) at Rogers Arena. 
The Canucks will be out for a measure of revenge after falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Blue Jackets earlier this month in the finale of their seven-game road trip.

What we saw

The Canucks return to action following a 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis on Wednesday night. Pius Suter recorded the second hattrick of his NHL career, scoring all three Vancouver goals in a frantic third-period comeback. He has now found the back of the net in back-to-back games. Quinn Hughes had a pair of assists against the Blues to reach 300 NHL points, while JT Miller had a helper, giving him 600 points for his career.
Hughes (59) and Filip Hronek (36) have combined for 95 points on the season and are closing in quickly on the franchise record for highest scoring defensive duo in a single season. They are now fifth on the list and just six points from breaking the record of 100 combined points held by Doug Halward (52) and Rick Lanz (48) set in 1982-83.
Thatcher Demko gets the start in goal after backing up Casey DeSmith on Wednesday. Demko blanked Chicago 2-0 in his last start on Monday, has won seven straight starts, and is 13-1-1 in his last 15 decisions. The last goal he surrendered was Mitch Marner’s short-handed effort at 3:13 of the third period last Saturday against Toronto. His shutout streak stands at 76:47.
Per NHL PR, with a win tonight, Demko tie Roberto Luongo for the second-longest winning streak in Canucks history with a win tonight.
Brock Boeser continues to lead the Canucks with 27 goals on the season, but has gone a season-high six without a goal and has just three goals in his last 14 games. Elias Pettersson has been held off the scoresheet in back-to-back games for just the third time all season. In nine career games against Columbus, Pettersson has scored eight goals.
Noah Juulsen is set to appear in his 100th NHL game tonight.
The Canucks are 16-2-4 in their last 22 games and are 9-1-1 in their last 11 on home ice. 
The Blue Jackets arrive in town looking to build on a 5-2 win in Calgary on Thursday. Yegor Chinakov, Damon Severson, Alexander Texier, Dmitri Voronkov and Adam Fantilli had the Columbus goals and Daniil Tarasov made 28 stops in goal. It was the Jackets first regulation win in 14 games (4-6-4). It was also just the second time in those 14 games that Columbus scored more than four goals in a game.
The 6’5” 240-pound Voronkov has scored in back-to-back games and, with two goals against the Canucks 10 days ago, has four goals in his last four outings. Veteran blueliner Zach Werenski led the Jackets with 25:13 of ice time in his first game since December 27th. He had missed the previous 10 games with an ankle injury.
Johnny Gaudreau was held off the scoresheet against his former team but leads Columbus in scoring with 7+22=29. Kirill Marchenko leads the team with 14 goals, however he has just one goal in his last 14 outings. He has not scored an even-strength goal since December 19th at Buffalo.
Rookie Adam Fantilli – the third pick in last June’s draft – leads Columbus with eight road goals this season. No one else on the team has more than five. Fantilli has 12+15=27 in his first NHL season. Port Moody’s Kent Johnson has 6+9=15 in the 31 games he’s played for Columbus this season.
The Blue Jackets are 28th in the overall standings and are 6-10-5 on the road this season. Columbus has won back to back games only twice so far and hasn’t accomplished the feat since November 22nd against Chicago and November 24th in New Jersey.
Patrik Laine has appeared in just 18 games this season and has been out since December 14th with a collarbone injury.
The Blue Jackets have seven players on their roster born in 2000 or later. 
After tonight, the Canucks will have a league-mandated bye week followed by the All Star weekend. They will next play on Tuesday February 6th in Carolina in the opener of a five-game road trip that will also feature stops in Boston, Detroit, Washington and Chicago. Tonight will be their final home game until a February 15th game against the Red Wings.
Tonight’s referees: Corey Syvret & Michael Markovic

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on focus in final game before All Star break: “We do have to recognize we have to get our 60 minute hockey game up a little bit. We’ve raised the bar. Teams aren’t taking us for granted. We’ve had great first periods and then for some reason there’s that dip in the second. So we’ve got some things we have to work on in those second periods. Overall, the resiliency of this team and the learning of this last month has been good and the results have been there, so it’s not hurting us. But it can if we don’t sharpen up.”
JT Miller on trying to head into the break on a winning note: “It’s human nature to get on with the break. We’ve done a lot of good up to this point, we’d hate to have a bad taste in our mouth going into the break so we all know we need to be ready. Just have another good start like we have had lately and go from there.”
Miller on what he appreciates about Pius Suter’s ability to succeed in different roles: “I’ve been there before. When I was younger, I was just a guy that kind of filled in. Versatility is a great thing. I really respect how he’s basically getting called on most nights to play a different position on a different line. It’s really hard to do when it comes to chemistry. He’s been very consistent for us all season, so I’m happy for him to have some personal success last game.”

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