By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / March 26, 2023
Game 67: March 19th vs. The Anaheim Ducks
The Canucks took on fellow basement dwellers, the Anaheim Ducks, in their first game of the week on Sunday. In classic Canucks fashion they once again proved that they may not be able to dominate against most teams in the league, but they can sure show up against the worst that the league has to offer.
The Canucks came on strong and peppered the shots early in the game, something that they did not stop doing throughout the course of sixty minutes of play.
Halfway through the first, we saw the game’s first goal as Quinn Hughes, who is normally receiving drop passes from J.T. Miller, decided to be the one to gift J.T. Miller a drop pass this time around, after a brief moment spent cutting to the boards near the top of the faceoff circle, Hughes left a drop pass for Miller at the blueline, and #9 made no mistake with it.
The Canucks wasted no time getting right back into it in the second period as just over a minute and a half into the frame, off of a nice set-up by who else but Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller, Pettersson let loose one of the cleanest and quickest wristers you can ever hope to see in the game of Hockey. On both Millers’ clapper and Petey’s wrister, Gibson was paralyzed.
The ice continued to tilt in the Canucks favour even though the goals would stop coming after Petey’s last one, the shots would not stop. By the time the game would wrap up, nearly every single Canucks player would have at least one shot on net, and seven players had between 3-5 shots each. The only holdouts that didn’t get the puck on net at least once in these 60 minutes against the Ducks would be Dakota Joshua and Vitali Kravtsov.
Before the third period even began however, the Canucks would have 30 shots to their name, whereas the Ducks were just barely cracking double digits. Vancouver’s offence was shooting volume and their defence was letting Delia see as few pucks as possible. There is not much more you can ask for from a hockey team.
The third period would see ten more Canucks shots and continued Canucks dominance, but no more goals for the Canucks. With eight minutes and change left in the Third period the Ducks would ruin Delia’s shutout chances as Ryan Strome scored off of a Troy Terry assist. The goal was largely the result of both a Tyler Myers and J.T. Miller defensive fumble, showcasing that even though the Canucks can perform against poor defensive teams, they are themselves a team with poor defence.
The Canucks would take a 2-1 victory in this one dominating in shots 40-18, as well as faceoff wins at 26-19. This was a decisive victory for the Canucks despite how close the score was.
Game 68: March 21st vs. The Vegas Golden Knights
The Canucks would take on the Vegas Golden Knights and their shiny new toy Jonathan Quick. If Quick could win this game, he would be the second-winningest American goaltender in the history of the NHL.
The game’s scoring opened off of an awful turnover from Ethan Bear. Bear would look to make a pass across the blue line to his linemate and didn’t pick up on Phil Kessel streaking into the zone. Kessel would pick off the pass and outwait Thatcher Demko to score the game’s first goal just three minutes into the game.
The next goal would come off of a comedy of errors in the Canucks end. After some poor passing and whiffing on some passes, Brock Boeser came in to help his defenseman. But he would miss play the puck along the boards by passing behind him to no one. Vegas took possession of the puck and Riley Smith would get all of the puck on his one-timer up and over Demko’s shoulder.
It wasn’t all bad news through the first period, the Canucks killed off a lengthy two-man advantage and the following five-on-four with a little help from the post and Demko’s raw talent. The period would end 2-0, but the Canucks were badly outshot 13-5.
JT Miller would continue his excellent offensive penalty killing when he created a turn-over to spring himself a breakaway. The chance on net wasn’t anything to write home about… due to the slash he received. But don’t worry the ref caught it and awarded JT Miller a short-handed penalty shot.
Miller would perform his classic, out wide to the left-hand boards, drift slowly across the net and outwait the goaltender for a goal to bring the Canucks within one.
JT Miller now leads the Canucks with five SHG, and leads the NHL this season. Elias Pettersson is hot on his heels with four.
Teddy Blueger would score to put the Golden Knights up by two again with a quick shot that found a seam on Demko. It was not pretty, it was a fast shot that just found a hole, but it was enough to reinstate the two-goal gap. Miller would score a second goal on four on three power play. Miller would simply walk down the slot and fire a wrist shot, but the goal doesn’t happen without a perfect screen from Brock Boeser. He may not get any counting stats for his contribution to that goal, but it doesn’t happen without him.
The last goal of the game would be from Dorofeyev. Dorofeyev would simply keep his stick on the ice and Alex Pietrangelo would let go a low fast shot that Dorofeyev perfectly elevated over Demko. The Canucks would end the second period down two goals for the third time in the game.
Di Giuseppe would finish off a scramble play with a backhand shot into a yawning cage to bring the score back to within one. After a flurry of chances and rebounds Quick found himself far outside his net when the Di Giuseppe had the puck pop out to him. PDG would get the shot off before Quick was able to get back into position.
Boeser would have the game on his stick in the dying moments of the game and get of a vintage wrist shot, but it wasn’t enough to get one passed Quick. The Canucks would end the game short-handed and down 4-3. Quick got the win he needed and take sole possession of second place on the all-time win list of American-born goalies with 375 wins. He now only trails Ryan Miller’s 391 wins.
Game 69: March 23rd vs. The San Jose Sharks
On Thursday night the Canucks would take on the San Jose Sharks and look to complete the season sweep for the second season in a row. Thursday Filip Hronek would lace up the skates for the first time as a Vancouver Canucks on a line pairing with Ethan Bear.
JT Miller would continue his hot streak by opening the game’s scoring on the first Canucks shot. Miller’s strong awareness saw him pick off a Tomas Hertl pass and waste no time going bar down on James Reimer. This is JT’s 29th goal of the season.
The second goal of the game would come from Kuzmenko would deke Reimer clean out of his jockstrap after a nifty passing play with Pettersson. The Canucks had their second goal on just three shots. Kuzmenko officially broke Bure’s first-year scoring record with his 35th of the season.
Tomas Hertl would make up for his turnover scoring off of a beautiful Erik Karlsson pass. To this point, there have been three goals on a combined seven shots.
Dakota Joshua would score his 10th goal of the season with 0.4 seconds remaining in the first period of this high-scoring affair. The Canucks would start the second period with a comfortable 3-1 lead. Unfortunately, Christian Wolanin would not return for the second period after sustaining a lower-body injury.
Pettersson would get hit from behind and on the broadcast, the instant he was hit and went down, it didn’t look pretty. Petey would be fine, but notably, the new guy, Hronek was the first to jump to Pettersson’s defence. No fight would break out, but the immediate reaction of Hronek was nice to see.
Conor Garland would score the fourth Canucks goal. Myers shot the puck wide of the net right into Garland who recovered the puck and put it in the wide-open net. Garland hadn’t scored in 14 games and finally broke that streak.
Right before the third period, seemingly out of nowhere, John Garrett announced he would be retiring at the end of the season. Garrett has been the colour commentator for as long as I can remember and he will be dearly missed.
The Canucks would give up a short-handed goal while we all emotionally recovered from Cheech’s announcement, but Podkolzin would score off the rush following the ensuing faceoff. That would be Podkolzin’s fourth goal of the season and it was sorely needed.
Shortly after that Hughes would take a shot from the blue line in which Phil Di Giusuppe would redirect for the 6-2 goal. In the final moments of the game, Sheldon Dries would score yet another short-handed goal by faking forehand a scoring backhand for the Canucks 14th short-handed goal of the season. The Canucks now lead the NHL in short-handed goals.
The Canucks have now swept the season series on back-to-back years and the Canucks are within one penalty kill of reaching the 70% mark for the first time this season. From the first game of the season. It’s hard to say this team doesn’t look better and a more complete team in recent games.
Game 70: March 25th vs. The Dallas Stars
The Canucks just recently handed Dallas an L in their contest on March 14th, where the Canucks beat them 5-2. This game though would start off a little different as instead of the Canucks scoring within the first five minutes as was the case in their last contest, it would take nearly half of the first period before Ryan Suter for Dallas would put one past Demko.
Dakota Joshua and the Canucks would not let that stand however, as in the final minutes of the first frame, Joshua, off of a nice feed from Nils Aman, was gifted a great scoring opportunity at centre ice off of their rush into the Dallas zone. This was an opportunity that Joshua did not let slide by as he picked his corner and left Murray looking between his legs.
The period would wrap up shortly thereafter, and despite Dallas’ best efforts they could not get a leg up on Vancouver and hold their lead into the second period.
Early in the second period, the Canucks would tilt the scoreboard in their favour as J.T. Miller would deliver a drop pass for Boeser to capitalize on and put the Canucks up 2-1.
Boeser’s shot was sharp and right on the money, something that you love to see once and a while from a player that has transitioned more toward being a playmaker this year.
Tonight was also Rathbone’s return to the Canucks lineup as he has spent most of this season with the Abbotsford Canucks. Rathbone would get the Canucks third goal of the game thanks to patience and control by Andrei Kuzmenko who held the puck down low without a clear shot or passing lane and waited for the trailing Jack Rathbone to slide into the slot for a skillful one-timer.
The third period would see no goals from either team and not a lot of action in any other regard, aside from two power play opportunities that the Canucks gifted the Dallas Stars in the form of a Tyler Myers cross-check and a Dakota Joshua tripping call.
On paper, the Dallas Stars should have no problems beating this Vancouver Canucks team. But for some reason, this version of the Canucks has the playbook on Murray and the rest of his Dallas Stars teammates. This win by the Canucks does have the potential to hurt the Dallas Stars in terms of where they end up falling in the final weeks leading up to the playoffs, but in a larger sense, this win hurts Vancouver more, when considering what they are doing to their lottery odds. Good teams should be helping them lose, instead, they are taking a different path in these games.