Things went perfect through the first two games for the Vancouver Canucks’ three-game series against the much weaker Ottawa Senators team.
They continued to go well as the Canucks rolled through the Sens by a score of 4-1.
With that win, they swept the Sens at home and got themselves back into the conversation for a playoff spot in the North Division.
The Canucks came into Thursday night looking to sweep the series against the much weaker Senators team. The Canucks had outscored the Sens 12-2 through the first two games of the series with 12 goals. Three of which came from both Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte, two from J.T. Miller, and one each from each Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, Quinn Hughes, and Tanner Pearson.
The team has been gladly accepting their bottom-six contributions as that will always be a key to how well this current roster performs, but The Lotto Line needed to get going as well. They have been better in this series as the trio of Brock Boeser, Pettersson, and Miller put together five points in the first two games against the Sens.
They need to be better at five-on-five though. The trio is only controlling 36.7% of the shot share when they are on the ice this season. They have been on the ice for four goals scored and four goals against, though their expected goal share sits at a miserable 39.1%. They are doing this all while having an on-ice shooting percentage of 22.2%.
There’s a lot of numbers there that I think most of you will understand but basically, they need to do a better job controlling the puck in the offensive zone. We have seen glimpses of their dominance in the offensive zone this season but instead of shift after shift like we saw last year, this season they are coming once or twice a game.
Game three against the Sens gave the Lotto Line a chance to have a breakout game on what was the final tilt of their six-game homestand. The Canucks head out on the road for a six-game road trip that won’t have them back playing in Rogers Arena until February 11th. They begin with a quick one-game stop in Winnipeg to face the Jets before two games in Montreal against the Canadiens and wrap things up with a much anticipated three-game series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
A quick boost of confidence is exactly what the Lotto Line needs before hitting the road, and Thursday night presented the perfect opportunity for it.
We will get into the Lotto Line as this postgame rolls on.
First, I wanted to just give ourselves a small pat on the back for a second.
I am currently writing this from the Encore suite at Rogers Arena. After years of working hard and the standard being set so high for CanucksArmy in the past by guys like Thomas Drance, Patrick Johnston, Harman Dayal, and many more, we have gained media access for this blog and I’m damn proud of how we made it happen.
So, live from Rogers Arena, it’s Thursday night!
Here’s what the lines look like.
Jake Virtanen and Juolevi were up in the press box as Adam Gaudette drew back into the lineup for the first time since their January 21st matchup against the Canadiens.
Using Gaudette as a winger has been a much-discussed idea on social media and here in the comment section. Thursday night’s game we saw how he looked with Sutter as his centre.
Matt Murray was back between the pipes for the Sens while Braden Holtby patrolled the crease at the other end.
It’s game time so…
The first period began with the Canucks getting some early shots but the Sens getting some extended time in the offensive zone. The Canucks struggled to keep up with the Senators as they were activating their defence in the offensive zone and it opened up extra passing lanes.
The Lotto Line was pinned early but would get to go to work on the power play just four minutes into the game.
They got set up and went to work on the power play, the pressure resulted in Brock Boeser picking up the puck on the side of the net and basically walking out front with no defence around him. He ripped a wrist shot from a foot out and it rippled twine. 1-0 Canucks.
As is tradition, Alex Edler took a minor penalty with 12:03 remaining to give the Senators their first shot with the man advantage. The Canucks showed well on their first kill with some solid clears from Schmidt and Chatfield.
The Lotto Line struck again, this time at five-on-five when Pettersson, Hughes, and Boeser came in on an odd-man rush and moved the puck around with pace before Boeser ripped a wrist shot and Pettersson got his stick on the rebound to bury his third of the season. 2-0 Canucks.
Aside from a few shifts, the Canucks were in complete control of the game through the first half of the period. The bottom-six lines were once again skating with pace and getting scoring chances on the regular. Early returns had the Lotto Line figuring it out as well. They were able to have a shift that lasted a full minute in the offensive zone before Pettersson stopped in the slot, sang the entirety of the Swedish national anthem, and rang his wrist shot off the crossbar.
He had a lot of time against a tired five-man Sens unit.
The Sens took the control of play late in the period, and had long possessions in the Canucks’ zone and eventually passed them in the count for shots on goal.
Both of the bottom six lines won the possession battle when it came to attempted shots while the Horvat and Pettersson lines both had a negative Corsi for percentage in the period.
Shots were 11-10 in favour of the Sens after 20 minutes of play but the Canucks led 2-0.
Four and a half minutes into the period, the Lotto Line did what they do best once again. After a sloppy line change from the Sens, Holtby fired a pass up the ice to Pettersson. He tapped the puck in the zone perfectly for Boeser to take in stride and he made Murray look like a practice dummy once again as he ripped his wrist shot past Murray’s nonexistent blocker. 3-0 Canucks.
The Sens were really trying in the first half of the period, but just aren’t skilled enough to mount much consistent pressure. At the halfway point of the game, the shots were 20-15 in favour of the Sens.
They had some scoring chances but couldn’t put together the real high danger chances like the Lotto Line was doing when they pushed up the ice. The Sens did generate enough time in the Canucks’ zone to draw their second power play of the game and you could hear superfan Clay Imoo boo the refs alongside anthem singer Marie Hui.
The penalty was a slashing call on Tyler
Minors Myers. The Canucks were able to kill off the penalty thanks to some good clearances from Motte and Schmidt.
The Sens do have a few young studs and one of them scored with 5:45 remaining to break the goose egg for the Sens. Defenceman Thomas Chabot came down the right wing and drove the net hard as he tucked in a puck on Holtby. 3-1 Canucks after the Chabot goal.
Tanner Pearson took a stick to the face after mixing it up behind the Sens’ net and that put the Canucks right back onto the power play with 5:02 remaining in the period. The first unit controlled the puck for a full two minutes but was unable to get a good shot off. The Sens killed off the penalty and we were back to even strength hockey for a couple of minutes. Then, the Sens took an interference penalty to send the Canucks first unit back out there with 48 seconds remaining in the period.
Holtby stopped a shorthanded breakaway attempt to close out the period. The Canucks took 1:13 of power play time into the final period of the game.
It felt like the Canucks were going to put this one to bed with ease as they moved into the final frame with a two-goal lead and control of a majority of the offensive zone possession even though they were being outshot 30-19.
The Canucks began the period with a man advantage but were unable to capitalize on the power play. Just seconds after, Nils Hoglander’s excellent forechecking got Pearson possession of the puck and he fired a couple of shots on Murray, the second one going off the post, then off Murray’s back and in. 4-1 Canucks.
The Canucks were right back to the power play with 15:32 remaining. The Canucks needed to keep the pressure going to help build some momentum into this coming road trip. Even with the Sens down and out, the Canucks needed this time to tune up some things like the power play.
The power play was moving the puck well but was unable to score on this opportunity, but there was more rotation this time around. Boeser and Horvat swapped spots around the net and the three guys up top were moving around the ice a ton to confuse the penalty killers. More movement is key for this unit as they can’t rely on Horvat slot shots and Pettersson slap shots to score every goal.
They will still get a good amount of goals if that’s all they got though…
With 10 minutes remaining in the period, there was a mix-up between Chatfield and Tkachuk at centre ice. Both players received minor penalties, with Chatfield getting an extra two minutes. 30 seconds into the ensuing Sens power play, Alex Edler took a cross-checking penalty and the Canucks were down two men for 90 seconds.
The Canucks killed off the 90 seconds as the Sens whiffed on a handful of shots and flubbed a few passes during their extended two-man advantage.
Tkachuk and MacEwen dropped the gloves in a spirited fight after an Adam Gaudette cross-check with 50 seconds remaining. That was all she wrote as the Canucks swept the Sens with a 4-1 victory to seal it.
No Fancies tonight
NST was down. *sad face*
The Lotto Line: The Canucks top-scoring trio combined for six points in Thursday’s outing. Brock Boeser had two goals and three points while Pettersson added a goal of his own off of a Boeser shot. J.T. Miller had an assist but something about his game felt off. He just didn’t feel in-sync like so many of his teammates were. The trio looked dangerous at even strength and on the power play. They skate much better in the game and a lot of their scoring chances came from them just being quicker to loose pucks.
After being led by their bottom six players in the first two hames of the series. The Canucks top line came out and showed well in the series finale against the Sens. The Lotto Line got on the scoresheet at evens and on the power play while their defence played good enough to limit the Sens’ ability to get to the high danger areas.
Braden Holtby was one of the better Canucks on the ice as he faced 36 shots but not many of them came from dangerous areas. He also notched his first assist in a Canucks jersey. You got to give the assist shoutout anytime a goalie gets one. The Canucks did a fine job in front of Holtby, but this Sens team needs a lot of help, and they will have to be even better to get some road wins against tougher competition.
The Canucks now embark on a six-game road trip that begins on Saturday night in Winnipeg.