The Vancouver Canucks were reeling a bit, having lost their last four contests. And after a second period in which they were thoroughly outplayed, you’d have trouble finding anyone who would have predicted it wasn’t going to be five in a row.
But the team’s powerplay came alive with two goals in the final frame (from Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette), plus a second from Pettersson to put the game away. It was still tight, with Filip Forsberg scoring a beauty late in the period to make it close.
But the young players on the team—Pettersson, Gaudette and goaltender Thatcher Demko were enough to beat one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Here’s what we saw in the Canucks’ 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators.
Birthday of the night
Elias Pettersson turned 21 and celebrated in fashion, scoring twice, both goals very much showcasing the young Swede’s insane offensive touch.
It just showed what the superstar is capable of if given even a second of space. And remember—it’s his second year in the league.
Celebrity appearance of the night
Did Bill Murray commit a foul by wearing a Chicago Blackhawks shirt to a game between the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators?
Does it matter?
No. Bill Murray rules. But you shouldn’t try it.
False alarm of the night
For a second there, it seemed like J.T. Miller might be dinged up. He went to the bench in some pain but never left it, thankfully. The Canucks are going to get injured, but they have to hope their top six stays at least mostly intact. They probably won’t be able to withstand any prolonged absences from the likes of Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser or Miller.
Stat of the night
Speaking of which, Horvat was an absolute machine tonight, playing a lion’s share of the minutes in a pivotal third period.
Nitpick of the night
It’s sometimes hard to adequately show off Chris Tanev’s value, given his proficiency in the less-advertised parts of the game.
Such was clear in the third when Forsberg brought the game within one on the powerplay. Moments earlier, Tanev had gotten his stick on a Forsberg shot from the right circle, deflecting it over the glass.
Then, Tanev went off, with Tyler Myers taking his place. Forsberg promptly scored from the same spot as Myers was a second late in preventing the shot.
We’re not saying the circumstances were the exact same, but they were pretty close, and it was interesting to see the discrepancy in result.
Celebration of the night
Adam Gaudette had a nice night with a goal, an assist and one hell of a celly.
If this game wasn’t enough to make him a permanent fixture on this roster, we’re not sure what is. Which brings us to…
Opportunity of the night
Coach Travis Green didn’t have an update on Brandon Sutter, who went down in the first period. The broadcast team speculated that it might have been a groin injury for the veteran centre, which would be a problem given he’s had issues of that nature in the past.
In any case, with Jay Beagle already on the mend the door is wide open for Gaudette to grab a bottom-six centre spot for the foreseeable future. And a chance on the powerplay was great to see for the youngster.
Harbinger of the night
This is the type of goaltender performance that sticks with you.
Thatcher Demko was at his best tonight, stopping 34 shots (the Canucks only garnered 25 on Pekka Rinne at the other end), including holding together the team during the second.
The time is coming for a close to equal split between Demko and Jacob Markstrom. In fact, maybe it’s already come.
The Canucks will be a tough spot this offseason as Markstrom’s contract runs out and he pushes for a lucrative extension. With Demko looking ready to run with the ball as the starter, the Canucks can’t afford to tie themselves down to Marky.
This story isn’t going anywhere.
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