By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / November 6, 2023
Game 9: October 31st vs. The Nashville Predators
Even without the added fear factor of the sharp yellow, black, and red flying skate jerseys that the Canucks wore on Halloween night, the Predators should’ve already been fearful of the Vancouver team. The Canucks beat the Predators in their last head-to-head the Tuesday prior, and the home team was coming into this game having won three of the last four contests.
The opening five minutes of play were largely uneventful, with both sides evenly finding their chances and making their own blunders. The game almost took a turn for the worse with a Tyler Myers penalty call that resulted in a Liam Foudy penalty shot early on. However, the early opportunity only resulted in a ‘worst plays of the week’ clip when Foudy slipped and feel while skating toward the net, barely managing to get a shot off in time after getting back up.
Over halfway through the frame, Garland nearly capitalized on a Predators giveaway in their own zone. Unfortunately for the Canucks, this chance rang off the far post. However, with just over six minutes left on the board, the Canucks were able to net the game’s first goal, as a Quinn Hughes point shot took a weird bounce off of Sam Lafferty in front of Nashville’s net, and then found it’s way over the goal line.
Quinn Hughes was involved in yet another goal, this time initiating a turnover that sent a quick Nashville rush towards Demko resulting in a goal by BC native Colton Sissions. Before the period ended Nashville made the score 2-1 as a screened Demko missed a well-placed shot by Coquitlam’s Dante Fabbro.
The Canucks didn’t waste much time as they entered the second period, as less than a minute in off of a team break in Elias Pettersson found a lane from the slot and just like that the game was back even.
The rest of the period saw a conservative amount of chances for Vancouver, who only earned one more shot on net after Petey’s goal early in the frame by the time the clock ticked down to just under five minutes remaining in the period.
However, it was Petey again who changed the game’s score. Despite the team’s limited shots through the period, Pettersson and the team capitalized on a late power play and exited the period with the only two goals in the middle 20 minutes.
The Canucks weren’t done in the second either. It took less than five minutes for the Canucks to strike again off of strong control in the Predators zone and a Brock Boeser shot on net. J.T. Miller aided a bobbling rebound to find its way into the back of the net for the team’s fourth goal of the night.
The game was basically over from this point on, but more formally ended after Petey capitalized on a Predators empty net earning him his second career hat trick, and giving Canucks fans a nice treat on Halloween evening.
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Game 10: November 2nd vs. The San Jose Sharks
It’s hard to know exactly where to start with this one because it feels wrong to speak ill of the dead. The Canucks unequivocally destroyed the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. If you somehow missed this blood bath, sorry but we’re going to spoil the final score up top because pretty quickly into reading this, you’ll see the trend anyway. The Canucks dominated the Sharks 10-1 in this away contest.
It took the Canucks less than three minutes to open the scoring, which came in the form of a Brock Boeser power-play goal assisted by Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson.
Moments later Brock Boeser involved himself in the second goal of the game, assisting off of a stretch bank pass to J.T. Miller who single-handedly broke into the Shark’s zone, and quickly buried the second goal of the game with a top corner shot off of his backhand.
By this point, the game was certainly tilting in the Canucks favour but it hadn’t completely run away from the Sharks just yet. Over the next few minutes of play, both teams generated a few chances each, with the Canucks only outshooting the Sharks by four as the halfway mark in the first period approached.
However, as the first-period clock struck 12:00 on the dot, a Quinn Hughes wrister from the point found its way through traffic in front of the Shark’s net and brought the Canucks goal total to three in less than ten minutes of play.
The Sharks found themselves with a couple more chances in front of Demko, yet the Canucks netminder handled his light workload with ease, not letting anything past him in the opening frame.
The final goal of the period came on another Canucks powerplay with Brock Boeser batting a cross-crease attempt out of the air and into the Sharks’ net. Power-play dominance was the trend for the Canucks throughout the game with their power-play percentage by the end of the night sitting at 80%.
By the start of the second period, the writing was on the wall with regard to how this game was going to turn out. This was then immediately reinforced by the Canucks less than two minutes into the new frame. Pettersson orchestrated a dominant zone entry by catching an aerial puck with his stick before crossing the Shark’s blueline and ending with a tick-tack-toe goal credit to Ilya Mikheyev.
The next Canucks goal came off of a Sharks turnover resulting in a solo Andrei Kuzmenko break-in and glove-side snapshot that found the back of the net. Just over the halfway mark in the period and the game, the Canucks had earned six goals to the Sharks’ zero and had more than doubled the Sharks in shots, with their 22 to San Jose’s 10.
Sam Lafferty delivered the Canucks’ seventh goal on the night with a seemingly effortless one-man break-in/wrap-around that bounced off of Mario Ferraro’s skate and into his own net. At this point, the Sharks weren’t just deflating, they were being rolled up and put into long-term storage.
The Canucks final goal of the period came on a three-on-one break in between Hughes, Lafferty, and Suter, with a Quinn Hughes pass to Suter for the one-timer and the one-timer easily finding the back of the net. It was at this point that both fan bases began to wonder if a mercy rule might be a good idea for the NHL.
Production and pace from both teams slowed down during the third period, as it’s hard to find the drive to keep up the pace during a contest that has already so definitively been decided long ago.
Yet although production slowed, it didn’t stop completely as the Canucks still got on the board once again early in the frame, with an Anthony Beauvillier power-play goal.
As the clock passed the ten-minute mark, and the sight of sweet release was nearing for the Sharks, Anthony Beauvillier also earned the tenth and final goal of the Game for the Canucks. This goal came off of a top cheese shot as Beauvillier skated across the Sharks’ slot.
With just over three minutes left in the game during the Sharks’ fourth power play attempt, they were able to finally get a puck past Thatcher Demko. A seeing-eye wrist shot from Fabian Zetterlund marked the Sharks’ first goal of the game as well as the game’s last goal. The game finally ended in a 10-1 Canucks victory that felt like it should somehow be worth more than just two points.
Game 11: November 4th vs. The Dallas Stars
The Canucks facing off against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night was the first true measuring stick for the Canucks this season. The Canucks have made the best of the schedule and capitalized off every game they could and it has shown. But Saturday’s game is the first true Stanley Cup contender they have come face to face with (sorry Edmonton).
Edmonton had all the hype in the world coming into the season, but have absolutely fallen on their face in the early goings of the season, the New York Rangers were another potential contender the Canucks faced, but they are in the East. Dallas is in the West and a team the Canucks need to worry about much more when it comes to playoffs.
Early in the first period, Demko needed to send fans a reminder this is more than just the Pettersson-Hughes show. Demko wants us all to remember that while Hughes is going to win the Norris and Pettersson the Art Ross, Demko is going to win the Vezina.
The end of the first period arrived with no score. The Dallas Stars had the statistical advantage throughout the first period, but Demko was a magician making sure to keep the ice at an even tilt for his club.
The second period is when all the action took place. The first goal of the game went to Pius Suter. His second goal in a Canucks uniform.
Dakota Joshua attempted a pass across the slot to Conor Garland, but it was broken up. The Canucks suddenly being a relentless team had no problem adjusting to this. Suter jumped onto the loose puck and got a quick shot on goal to put his team up 1-0.
The second goal came off a beautiful play by Filip Hronek and Elias Pettersson. Having Hronek on this team adds a huge threat that has to be respected by other teams. Hronek doesn’t have a goal on the season yet, but he has a shot you need to be ready for because he can absolutely blast it.
Hronek gets the puck at the top of the Dallas zone, walks the line like a regular Quinn Hughes and skates into the slot telegraphing shot all the way. Imagine Oettinger’s surprise when a no-look pass lands on Pettersson’s stick for a tap-in.
When was the last time we got to see Pettersson with the easy tap-in? Talent is abundant on this team and it makes the job so much easier for the stars. In previous seasons we saw a play like this only from Hughes, but now we have another defender that will leave teams shaking in their boots.
Ian Cole wanted his own moment in the spotlight too so he did everything he could to hit Duchene hard enough to knock him clean out of his jersey.
This hit was clean as a whistle and as devastating as throwing an empty beer can into an oncoming freight train. Duchene was absolutely crunched. Mason Marchment saw the hit and went “Damn, I want a piece of that” and immediately went to fight Cole. It didn’t go well for Marchment either.
In the final moments, while the Canucks were on the power play, the Dallas Stars had a good chance on the net, but Demko was out there doing Demko things. There was a huge scramble around the net in which Demko scrambled and by some miracle held the puck out.
Bonus points for Boeser getting extra physical making sure no one gets a free pass getting shots on their star netminder.
In the end, the Canucks won 2-0 against the Stars giving Demko the shut-out he deserved on Friday. This win had the Canucks leapfrog the Stars in the standings and sent them up to third overall in the league standings only behind the Boston Bruins and the Vegas Golden Knights. The New York Rangers have the same record as the Canucks as of Sunday morning, but because of the Canucks league-leading goal differential (tied with Vegas with +26 despite Vancouver playing one less game) they have the tiebreaker for sitting alone in third place.
There is something in the water here in Vancouver this year and if it keeps up Canucks fans have a very very fun season to follow.