The Vancouver Canucks continue to deal with COVID problems but got some good news with their leading scorer J.T. Miller coming back into the lineup.
Miller joined the team while Bo Horvat, Conor Garland, Jaroslav Halak, and Thatcher Demko remained in protocol. On top of that, Tanner Pearson was added to protocol on Tuesday morning.
With Demko and Halak still in protocol, the Canucks sent Spencer Martin back to the crease to face the slumping Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers’ struggles have come from a variety of different avenues but one of the big ones has been goaltending. The Oilers sent Mikko Koskinen between the pipes to face the Canucks.
Miller’s return to the lineup simultaneously brought the return of the Lotto Line as Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser welcomed back the Canucks’ leading scorer with open arms.
It was a celebration of the Lunar New Year at Rogers Arena and after a beautiful pregame ceremony, we were all set for puck drop.
It’s that time, let’s go!
Miller looked good in his return and created space for the Lotto Line to put in work in the offensive zone early in the period. The Oilers battled right back with Kailer Yamamoto tipping a puck off the post and then Connor McDavid flew down the wing and set up a quality scoring chance for the Oilers. It was an exciting first handful of minutes in a game where both teams were desperate for a win.
Luke Schenn fired a shot that was tipped by Nils Höglander and sent Koskinen into a sprawling backstroke as the puck was free in the crease for a second before the Oilers’ goalie found it and covered it up. Another tough luck play for Höglander, who is doing a lot of really good things on the ice and still not being rewarded for his effort.
The Canucks took the first penalty of the game when Brad Hunt took a holding penalty while defending McDavid. It was a pretty soft call but he knocked McDavid to the ice and the Oilers’ potent power play went to work with 9:28 remaining in the period.
It was a good kill for the Canucks, who were able to disrupt McDavid on a few of his full-speed rushes into the zone and limit Leon Draisaitl’s shot attempts through the two minutes advantage.
The Oilers pressured late in the period. This led to the final two minutes of the period being spent in the Canucks’ zone with Martin making a handful of big saves. Draisaitl hit the post late and Martin covered the puck with 10 seconds remaining. The Canucks escaped the late push and ended the period in a scoreless tie.
Thoughts from the first
The Lotto Line looked good in its first period back as a trio. Miller was a driver of play and it was great to see him back in the lineup. They spent a majority of their ice time in the offensive zone and though Pettersson had a couple of slip-ups, Boeser and Miller played well and the line as a whole looked good.
Spencer Martin was huge at the end of the period when the Oilers pushed hard and dominated the final two minutes of the period. He lost his stick a couple of times in the defensive scramble but battled to keep the puck out of the net and had a clutch cover-up with 10 seconds remaining.
Tyler Motte took Pettersson’s spot for a half-shift with Miller and Boeser and had a couple of good scoring chances with the best being a Miller shot from the slot that Koskinen came out to challenge and make the save on.
The Canucks were doing a good job in the early parts of the second period as they controlled the neutral zone and flooded the Oilers’ zone with the puck.
Yamamoto beat Martin for the second time and for the second time in the game hit the post on a deflection. The game saw plenty of scoring chances but we were still in a scoreless draw at the halfway point of the game.
We saw coincidental penalties when Matthew Highmore took an embellishment penalty to go with McDavid receiving an interference penalty. It gave us some four-on-four action.
Martin made a good blocker save on an odd-man rush shot from Draisaitl. Martin was finding a pretty good groove as he stopped all 18 of the shots he faced through the first 35 minutes of the game.
Pettersson shook off a defender at centre ice, gained the offensive zone down the left wing, used an Oilers defenceman as a screen, and ripped a shot into the far corner to notch his 10th goal of the season. 1-0 Canucks.
The penalties to Highmore and McDavid expired and following that, Juho Lammikko took a penalty to give the Oilers another power play attempt with 4:38 remaining in the period.
Rogers Arena was sent into pandemonium when Miller saved a goal on a McDavid shot where he had a wide-open net. The play didn’t stop there as Miller skated up ice and sent Motte in for a breakaway and he fired the puck through Koskinen’s legs to score the shorthanded marker and give the Canucks a two-goal lead. 2-0 Canucks.
It looked like one of the most entertaining sequences of the season and showed how valuable Miller is to this team.
The period ended with the Canucks holding onto their two-goal lead and Spencer Martin holding onto McDavid’s jersey during a scrum around his crease.
What a world we are living in…
Thoughts from the second
It was an exciting period that saw back and forth action at even strength and really opened up during the four-on-four play in the middle part of the period. Both of the Canucks’ goals were exciting plays and you could feel the emotion in the arena through the TV screen on the second goal.
Martin continued to look excellent in the crease. He doesn’t look as sturdy as most NHL goalies look but he’s doing an excellent job of keeping the puck out of the net and scrambling with loose pucks around the crease. He stopped all 26 of the shots he faced in the first 40 minutes.
McDavid and Draisaitl came to play in the early part of the third period. The dynamic duo spent a lot of time in the Canucks’ end and even caught Tyler Myers out for one of his famous two-minute shifts. Martin stayed strong in the crease and Pettersson made a strong defensive play to intercept a pass and end an offensive zone possession.
Quietly, the Nils Höglander, Jason Dickinson, Alex Chiasson line was doing a good job as they matched up against the Oilers’ third line. It opened up a lot of ice for Höglander and Chiasson found himself with a few scoring chances throughout the game.
The Oilers finally broke Martin when Ryan McLeod came down the right wing and fired the puck into the short-side corner above Martin’s shoulder. 2-1 Canucks after the McLeod goal.
Oliver Ekman-Larssom took a cross-checking penalty when he hit McDavid behind the net. The Oilers went to work with 11:56 remaining and trailing by one.
Motte quickly had another shorthanded breakaway. He went to slide it under Koskinen again but this time the Oilers’ netminder was up to the task as he slid his pads in a baseball-like slide. The Oilers then tee’d up a few bombs from Draisaitl and Evan Bouchard but were unable to beat Martin on the power play. Martin made a massive save on a Draisaitl one-timer and it had the crowd going wild.
Unfortunately, the Oilers continued their pressure after the penalty expired and Draisaitl ended up getting another one-timer and this time, he made no mistake and buried it on Martin. 2-2 after the Draisaitl goal.
The Canucks earned their chance to strike when the Oilers took an interference penalty in front of Martin and with 7:36, the Canucks went to their first power play of the game.
After getting one shot on net, the power play expired and we were back to five-on-five with about five minutes to go.
Both teams chipped and chased away the final few minutes of the game as the Oilers brought the offence that they needed in the period on their way to recording 41 shots on their way into overtime.
Draisaitl had a couple of scoring chances to begin overtime. McDavid followed that up with some scoring chances of his own and the Canucks were fighting just to get possession.
Martin made big saves to keep the game going as the Oilers had five shots on net in the first three minutes of overtime.
Then, with 23 seconds remaining, Darnell Nurse came down with McDavid for a two-on-one and on the 50th shot of the game, McDavid tipped the puck past Martin.
The Oilers outshot the Canucks by a 9-1 count in overtime.
3-2 final (OT).
Once again, Spencer Martin came in and did a good enough job to deserve a win. He faced 50 shots on the night and made some outstanding saves off the sticks of two of the best players in the world. Martin’s save on Draisaitl as the power play was about to expire was remarkable and he scrambled around the crease giving an effort that was good enough for him to be the Canucks’ top performer.
The Canucks were just simply outplayed in this game. They had a good second period and were able to set themselves up with a two-goal lead going into the third period. The Oilers came out hot in the third period and were able to fight their way back into the game with their stars being the reason for the tying goal and the game-winner.
The goaltender was a big reason for the Canucks getting one point in this game and he was pretty happy with how he performed even though the team wasn’t able to take home two points on the night.
“I feel really good right now but having a two-to-nothing lead going into the third period, you want to close that out every time,” said Martin in the post-game availability. “It’s frustrating to not be able to finish that off. But as far as technically, I felt good.”
Even with a goaltender who was standing on his head for a good portion of the game, the Canucks simply weren’t going to win this game as they gave up 46 scoring chances against and were only able to achieve 23 scoring chances of their own. McDavid and Draisaitl can only be held off the scoresheet for so long when your team is getting 46 scoring chances.
The Canucks will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets. They should be content with scraping out a point in a game where though they had a two-goal lead, they were severely out-chanced. Here’s hoping for a Demko return as well as some other friendly faces coming off COVID protocol for Thursday.