Coming off a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, the Vancouver Canucks were looking to get back on the right track with a win against the Ottawa Senators.
Braden Holtby was back in net after the Canucks failed to provide any run support for Thatcher Demko on Thursday. Holtby is a goaltender who is at his best when he’s playing a lot, and given how he performed in his two starts against the Toronto Maple Leafs, this move made sense.
Olli Juolevi slotted in next to Tyler Myers. Speaking of Myers, he has probably been the Canucks’ best defenceman since the team returned. He’s been an absolute workhorse and has played some huge minutes for the club over their last three games.
Tyler Motte returned to the lineup and gave the Canucks’ bottom six some much-needed stability.
The Canucks celebrated Vaisakhi tonight, and the game was broadcast in seven different languages. Let’s do this!
The game came to a pause almost as quickly as it began as a big hit from Brady Tkachuk on Travis Hamonic caused the glass to need repairs just 28 seconds into the game.
A shot rang off the Senators’ post on the ensuing play. Shortly after, Nate Schmidt teed one up and opened the scoring with an absolute rocket that he got every bit of. 1-0 Canucks.
The Canucks had good energy to start this one, and were sure to finish their checks whenever the opportunity presented itself.
It was all Canucks early on in this one.
Then the Senators tied it up.
Resulting from a broken play in the Canucks’ end, Colin White was able to jump on a loose puck and tie this one up at one apiece with just over 11 minutes remaining in the opening frame. 1-1.
Soon after, Jayce Hawryluk made one of the best defensive plays of the game by disrupting an Ottawa zone entry by getting into a fight with Erik Brannstrom 60 feet behind the play:
The Canucks killed off the first penalty of the game after J.T. Miller took a high sticking penalty.
Once again, Holtby looked sharp in this game. If the Canucks want to have any chance of making the playoffs, they’ll need both of their goaltenders to be great down the final stretch of games.
Quinn Hughes took a tripping penalty, and the Canucks managed to kill that one off without much trouble as well.
Tyler Myers was the Canucks’ best penalty killer in the first period and continued to build off his strong performances as of late.
This one was headed for the second tied at one all.
The second period started with a vocal Travis Green, as the Canucks’ head coach wasn’t pleased after Matthew Highmore was tripped up right in front of the Canucks’ bench with no call being made on the play.
The Canucks did get a tripping call to go in their favour, however, as Matt Murray was given two minutes for tripping Jake Virtanen just moments later.
Murray was hurt on the play and needed to head down the tunnel, with Marcus Hogberg coming into the game in relief.
Hogberg went down after a collision almost as quickly as he entered the game, and everybody immediately checked to see what would happen if he couldn’t continue. Sens coach DJ Smith offered the following explanation post-game:
Brock Boeser scored on the ensuing power play from the Murray penalty, with J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes picking up assists on the goal. 2-1 Canucks.
The Senators began to push back, and Hughes took his second tripping penalty of the game.
There were a couple of close calls on the Sens’ power play — including a shot that beat Holtby that found iron instead of twine — but the Canucks emerged unscathed.
Jake Virtanen quickly followed that up by taking a careless high-sticking penalty on Tim Stützle, and the Sens were right back on the man advantage for four additional minutes.
And then, I kid you not, the Canucks took another penalty. This time it was Tyler Myers who took a slashing penalty and gave the Senators a penalty shot which was promptly stopped by Holtby.
The period came to an end and the two teams were dead even in the shot department at 21.
Much like the first 40 minutes of this game, the two teams went back and forth with not much structure and played a chippy game to begin the third period.
The Canucks headed back to the power play early, with a good chance to take a two-goal lead. They came close, but couldn’t manage to beat Hogberg.
The two teams traded chances, with the Canucks controlling play for the most part.
The Canucks had their best chance to take control of the game when the Senators took two penalties on the same play, putting the Canucks on a 5-on-3 man advantage for a full two minutes.
Brock Boeser hit the post, but the Canucks once again failed to convert — managing just one shot on goal for the entirety of the two-minute 5-on-3 power play.
Between the penalties they took in the second and their failure to convert on the man advantage, the Canucks truly were playing with fire while protecting their one-goal lead.
Then the Senators tied it up. 2-2.
Shortly after the Sens tied it up, Tanner Pearson sniped one short side on Hogberg to make it 3-2 Canucks.
The Sens had a strong pushback, and as the time on the clock dwindled down, the Canucks worked hard to keep the puck out of their own end.
The Sens pulled their goalie and J.T. Miller quickly converted, making it 4-2 Canucks.
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Tyler Myers continued his solid play since the team returned to play, and deserves some more love.
Nate Schmidt looked great and also scored the game’s opening tally.
Braden Holtby once again was great in net. Thatcher Demko wll get a start again soon, but right now, Holtby is the hot goaltender and the Canucks would be wise to ride with him as long as they can (while also managing his workload of course.)
This certainly wasn’t the Canucks’ best game, but it got the job done, and each win right now keeps them in the playoff hunt.
The Flames beat the Canadiens tonight, meaning the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division remains up for grabs.
Meaningful games in late April.
Against the Ottawa Senators.
Who would have thought?
The Canucks will fly out to Ottawa tomorrow and play the final two games against the Senators on Monday and Wednesday. Wednesday is a 2:30 Pacific start time, so get those excuses to leave work early ready now!