By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / March 5, 2023
Game 58: February 27th vs. The Dallas Stars
On Tuesday, the Cancks took on the Stars in recently acquired Vitali Kravstov’s first game in a Canuck uniform. Thatcher Demko returned to game action after being injured in early December and JT Miller missed the game with a mysterious lower-body injury that listed him as week-to-week; more on that in a bit.
The Canucks scored on the rebound of their first shot on the night. Pettersson blindly threw a shot from along the boards on Jake Ottinger, who redirected it towards the far side boards. Bad news for Ottinger, Beauvillier was streaking down the far side at the time and was able to bat the puck into the net.
Conor Garland had a breakaway opportunity but was denied; and not long after, Jamie Benn scored on a short-handed breakaway, making no mistake by going five-hole on Thatcher Demko. On that same power play, Conor Garland took a shot from far that Sheldon Dries tipped in for his ninth of the year.
The Canucks scored for a third time in the period when Raty passed to Podkolzin who made a nifty move and scored off the rush for only his second goal of the season.
Dadanov then scored on a breakaway while dancing around Demko to slide one passed him. Beauvillier scored a second goal off of a redirected Quinn Hughes pass by getting his stick on it for a one-time shot to put the Canucks up 4-2. In the 17th minute of the second period, Hintz brought the Stars back within one on the power play. 2:25 into the final frame, Nils Lundkvist scored to knot up the game. Both teams continued to trade chances, but ultimately, a fourth frame was required.
Kuzmenko (the greatest anti-tank weapon ever created) scored the game-winner. Unfortunately, because Beauvillier was carrying the puck in backward, the goal was automatically reviewed for off-side and it took well over five minutes before the call on the ice would stand. The Canucks won a game they had no business winning (that sounds familiar), but thanks to Demko finding his game right away and turning away 34 shots, the Canucks were able to squeak out two points.
JT Miller’s Miraculous recovery
JT Miller’s situation over the last couple of weeks has been strange. Rumours of trades have been flying around Vancouver for over a year, and they started circulating once again at this trade deadline. The Canucks made a massive bet on Miller when they signed him to a $56M deal that kicks in at the end of the season. Miller has an NMC that kicks in at the same time as the deal starts, so it made sense for the Canucks, who are obviously farther away from contention than management originally thought, to listen to offers.
As these rumours of trade speculation arose, so did a mysterious lower-body injury leaving Miller out week-to-week. Many thought this was the Canucks protecting an asset for trade protection without trying to draw attention to a potential trade, while many others thought he was just hurt.
What makes this situation strange, is by March 2nd’s game, Miller was healthy again. The official story from the Canucks was Miller came to the rink and felt healthy enough to play. First of all, that is a terrible way to operate if Miller was truly week-to-week with an injury. Second of all, he was obviously not hurt because as talks cooled off around JT, he became magically healed.
While we may never know what truly happened with JT over the course of those few days, it is certainly very odd to watch from the outside looking in.
Game 59: March 2nd vs. The Minnesota Wild
March 2nd was a special night for the Canucks, as they honoured Gino Odjick, by sporting a warm-up jersey designed by Gino’s cousin Jay Odjick. The jersey was undoubtedly the most impressive thing on display that night.
Kirill Kaprizov wasted no time dampening the vibes in the building by scoring the game’s first goal for the Wild less than a minute into regulation. Kaprizov’s goal was the result of terrible puck control by the Canucks in their own zone, which the Wild capitalized on as Zuccarello was able to spring Kirill with a sharp pass from behind the goal line, which allowed the puck to be rocketed into the back of the net with time to spare.
The Canucks would take a little while longer to answer, but answer they did, as with just over five minutes to play in the first period Brock Boeser was able to put one past his hometown team’s netminder to tie the game at one side.
Brock’s goal had him filling in for former captain Bo Horvat, as Boeser occupied the top of the near faceoff dot during a Canucks powerplay, and after respectable passing a zone possession new Canuck Vitali Kravtsov was able to find Boeser for a one-timer.
This would then take us to the end of the first period, where despite the Wild controlling most of the play, the game somehow remained tied at one a side.
As the second period kicked off a similar story would play out, as a Kirill Kaprizov would yet again find himself in a scoring opportunity early in the frame. This time, in the form or a brake away Kaprizov got an initial shot off on returning Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko, and then followed up his initial chance by netting a rebound that Demko left sitting infront of the net.
After that goal, the game would see a scoring freeze for the rest of regulation. Both squads had chances, but ultimately neither team was able to add to their totals.
The big story of the game however was Thatcher Demko’s return between the pipes. Despite what team tank Canucks fans may want to see, Demko did finally make his return from the injury reserve. Thatcher faced a respectable 36 shots and only did let in the two goals, which is far from the started of 5-6 pee game that the Canucks have gotten used to, but even Demko couldn’t save this one, for a team that couldn’t put the puck in the net.
Near the end of the third period there was a high spirited fight between the Wilds Brandon Duhaime and Kyle Burroughs. The pair landed quite a few hefty punches between them, but it would ultimately be Burroughs who narrowly found himself on top. Shortly after the game would end with the score unchanged 2-1 Wild.
Game 60: March 4th vs. The Toronto Maple Leafs
The Canucks last game of the week was against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s always an annoying site when the Leafs come to town, as Roger Arena can in some sections, begin to resemble the Air Canada Centre. However, the Leafs and their Vancouver based fans were in for a suprise, as Saturday night’s game ended up being more annoying for them
The game started with a bang, literally as Tyler Myers absolutely crushed Leafs captain John Tavares with a beautiful open ice hit.
The hit lead to a fight between Myers and Jake McCabe, which pumped even further life into the building.
The rest of the period however would not live up the excitement that exploded at the start of the first, as the goals would have to wait for period number two.
And wait the Rogers Arena crowed had to do, as it wasn’t until 17 minutes into the second period that who else but Andrei Kuzmenko opened the scoring for the Vancouver Canucks.
The goal came off of a man advantage and an impressive cycle inside the Leafs zone. It was Quinn Hughes who took the shot, but Kuz got just enough of it to sneak it past Matty Murray.
The third period is where the action really kicked off. In a fit of payback Taveras with the help of Nylander and Rielly would even the score for the Leafs just one minute thirty seconds into the frame.
Thankfully though Canucks fans wouldn’t have to wait long for their team to start silencing the west coast Leafs fans in attendance. As Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller would team up on two different short handed opportunities, and in record speed score two short handed goals just 44 seconds apart. That will take the wind out of the sales of just about any team.
Nils Aman, would go on to round out the Canucks goal total with a contribution of his own, and objectively better Leafs team would go home deflated by the basement Canucks.
Notably during this game Quinn Hughes also earned is 200th career NHL assist. Hughes reached this milestone in record fashion as well.