After taking three of a possible four points on their California road trip, the Vancouver Canucks rolled into Seattle to face the Kraken.
Quite the story dropped this morning as Brian “Red” Hamilton, told his story of how a Kraken fan held up her phone saying “the mole on your neck is cancer,” and it turned out she was correct.
Quadrelli has the full story here
. Here’s a video of the pair meeting for the first time since Nadia informed Red about his cancerous mole.
Within an hour to puck drop, Canucks’ winger Jason Dickinson entered the NHL’s COVID protocol. With that loss to the active roster, the Canucks only had 11 forwards on their active roster and were forced to use Brad Hunt as a forward.
The Kraken have a league-worst save percentage and sent out Philipp Grubauer to guard their crease while the Canucks countered with their stud goalie Thatcher Demko.
Here’s how the Canucks lineup shook down.
It’s time for puck drop as we see a bit of a shake up to the lines due to COVID. We have a lot to talk about with the new lines but we will do it as the game goes on.
There wasn’t much action until 5:12 into the period when Carson Soucy threw a big, high hit on Conor Garland. The hit looked high but Soucy avoided a penalty for the hit. Tanner Pearson took exception to the hit and dropped the gloves with Soucy. It was a spirited fight and Pearson held his own.
The hit and fight sparked a bit of nastiness between the two Pacific Northwest teams. Bo Horvat was getting involved with Kraken players after the whistle.
The Canucks pounced on a Kraken turnover as J.T. Miller and Nils Höglander forced a turnover on a strong forecheck. The puck rolled out to the slot and Vasily Podkolzin didn’t hesitate as he ripped home his seventh goal of the season. 1-0 Canucks.
Former Canuck Jared McCann took a slashing call with 6:51 remaining in the period and gave the first power play of the game to the Canucks.
The first unit wasn’t able to get much going but the second unit funnelled shots towards the net and Höglander picked up a loose puck around the crease and used his quick hands to roof it over Grubauer. 2-0 Canucks.
The Canucks were massively in control of the game as they were up 14-4 in the shot department after their second goal of the game.
Quinn Hughes took a penalty with 1:44 remaining in the period and opened up the door for the Kraken to get back into a game where the Canucks were dominating early on.
The Canucks killed off the first 104 seconds of the power play and went into the intermission with a two-goal lead.
Thoughts from the first
It was a great defensive period for the Canucks as they held the Kraken away from the their own net and held them to just a few shots from the outside in the first.
The two goal scorers were two of the best players as the duo of 20 year olds in Höglander and Podkolzin. Each had a goal in the period and had a massive control of the shot share at five-on-five.
The Canucks were able to kill off the remainder of the penalty and the teams traded a few early chances at even-strength.
Höglander had a good look from the slot where he spun and fired, looking for his second goal of the game. Grubauer was there to keep it a two-goal game.
The Canucks iced the puck after a long shift and the Kraken took advantage as they won the ensuing faceoff and Calle Jarnkrok scored off a point-shot to cut the lead in half. 2-1 Canucks after Jarnkrok’s goal.
The Kraken began to press and battle back with momentum as they gained ground in the shot department and had multiple scoring chances but struggled to find the net on their attempts.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson left the bench late in the period. He went down the tunnel to work with the medical staff.
The Canucks were down a defenceman but up a goal as they went into the second intermission up by a score of 2-1.
Thoughts from the second
It was a slower period for the Canucks and the Kraken did a good job of getting themselves back into the fight. It felt like the Canucks were going to run away with this game if they played like they did in the first period but the Kraken came to play in the period. The Kraken cut the lead down to one with co sirens pressure that was missing in the first period.
The third period set up for the Canucks to play the Bruce Boudreau way. It’s not about trying not to lose, it’s about going out and winning the damn game. Too many times, the Canucks have gone into a period and simply try not to lose. Under Boudreau, they have been aggressive and tried to extend leads, and they had another opportunity to do that on Saturday night.
There was some good news to start the period. OEL returned to the game after leaving late in the second period.
Garland drew a holding penalty on Soucy just 2:11 into the period.
The Canucks weren’t able to score on the power play but the fourth line went to work on the next shift and was rewarded for their efforts. Juho Lammikko initiated contact to turn the puck over and Matthew Highmore made a quick pass to Tyler Motte, who ripped it home. 3-1 Canucks.
The fourth line looked good against the Kings a couple of nights before and was rewarded for their strong effort in the third period to give the Canucks an insurance goal.
Just minutes after, the Kraken went to work in the Canucks’ zone and had a great screen from Ryan Donato, who was battling with Tyler Myers in front of the net. Will Borgen fired a shot from the point and scored his first career NHL goal. 3-2 Canucks lead after the Kraken goal.
The Canucks had a great screen of their own as Pearson was right in Grubauer’s face for a Garland shot from distance. Garland found an opening and beat Grubauer to bring back the two-goal lead. 4-2 Canucks.
Garland became the third Canucks player to hit double-digit goals this season.
Motte took a high-sticking penalty with 5:35 remaining in the third period. A door to a Kraken comeback was opened but Demko was excellent and made a sprawling right-pad save to maintain a two-goal lead.
The Kraken pulled their goalie with just under three minutes remaining in the period. Pearson returned to his old form of being the empty-net king as he fired the puck into the open net to secure the Gordie Howe hat trick and make it 5-2 Canucks.
The seconds ticked away and the Canucks pulled out another two points.
Nils Höglander and Conor Garland both drove offence for their lines on Saturday night. The duo combined for 11 shots on net and each player had a goal. Both players looked like Boudreau type of players as they sent shots towards the net from a variety of spots on the ice.
The Canucks have now taken 17 of 18 points since Boudreau took over. Tyler Motte said it best in the post game interview with Scott Oake. Motte said, “if we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to make them at 100 miles per hour.”
This has shown with their penalty kill more than anything but it’s a new effort level from the Canucks at five-on-five. Boudreau has the team flying around the ice and they are not scared to make mistakes. With Demko playing at an elite level, it’s beginning to look like this team is figuring it all out at a point where this team needs to rally in order to even come close to clinching a playoff spot.
Unfortunately, the Canucks now need to take six full days without a game before Ottawa comes to town on the 8th. The team now heads into another long break without games but they are once again entering on a winning note.
We will have to see if the Canucks can keep up their momentum through the break. It’s going to be a long week of practice for the team.