10 minutes, 25 seconds. That’s how long it took for the Vancouver Canucks to register their first shot on goal against the LA Kings in tonight’s 3-2 victory.
The Kings were aggressive and peppered goaltender Jacob Markstrom with nine shots before the Canucks even managed to get one on Jonathan Quick. Lucky for the Canucks, their third shot of the game resulted in the game’s opening tally — a wrist shot off the stick of Jake Virtanen.
With the Canucks up 1-0, the teams alternated unsuccessful power plays before Tyler Motte extended his team’s lead to 2-0 after 20 minutes of play.
Anze Kopitar scored the only goal of the second period, and Tyler Toffoli tied up the game 6 minutes into the third and final frame.
Elias Pettersson scored what turned out to be the game winner, after efficiently putting home a backhand feed from J.T. Miller less than a minute later.
From that point on, it was all Markstrom, who turned in what may be the best performance of his season to this point. It surely is comparable to the 1-0 victory he stole for his team against the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this month.
Jake Virtanen scores again, but can he keep it up?
Jake Virtanen has been producing at a very respectable top-6 forward rate for the last month or so. He’s up to 11 goals and 10 assists on the season, which has caused some fans to speculate as to whether or not the young forward has finally turned a corner.
Is his all-around game starting to come together? Will he be able to score 20 goals for this team? If you were to only look at his play over the last month, you’d likely answer yes to both of those questions. It’s important to remember that Virtanen reached the 11 goal mark on December 20th last season, so this isn’t exactly new.
While there’s certainly an argument to be made that Virtanen has played a much better all-around game than he did last year, consistency will be the key for him. It’s still too early to claim that Virtanen has finally figured it out, but if he can continue to turn in performances like this one for the remainder of the season, it’ll go a long way towards convincing this market that he’s the real deal.
Another solid performance from Jacob Markstrom
It’s becoming more and more apparent with each passing game that Jacob Markstrom is a good bet to be one of the best players on the Canucks on any given night.
He has the ability to not only keep his team in games, but steal them, too. Tonight, Markstrom turned in a career-high 49 saves in what turned out to be the 100th win of his NHL career. He made some extremely timely desperation saves late in the third period to help his team secure their fourth straight victory.
It will be interesting to see if the Canucks elect to start Markstrom tomorrow against the Calgary Flames. Thatcher Demko is healthy, but hasn’t played a game since December 7th. Do the Canucks stick with the hot hand, or try to give their starting goaltender a much-deserved rest?
Life moves fast
With the Western Conference standings so close, it’s insane how fast the mood amongst fans changes after a couple of wins. Just a week or two ago, some fans were calling for the heads of Jim Benning and Travis Green and were gearing up for another season where the team fails to make the playoffs yet again.
The Canucks have games in hand on the teams ahead of them in the Pacific Division standings, and if they manage to beat the Flames tomorrow, they will tie the Arizona Coyotes for second place in their division, trailing the Vegas Golden Knights, who sit at 48 points.
Here are the current Western Conference standings:
The Canucks do battle with the Calgary Flames tomorrow from the Scotiabank Saddledome. Puck drop is at 6:30 PM.