With Olli Juolevi’s first-career goal, Brandon Sutter’s first-career hat-trick, and Thatcher Demko’s first win of the season, the Vancouver Canucks had a great game Monday night. It was a win the team absolutely needed and here’s what contributed to the “W”.
Thatcher Demko Showed Up
It wasn’t that the Ottawa Senators played poorly — they had several good chances throughout the game. The Canucks just had everything going for them including the play of 25-year-old goalie Thatcher Demko who has struggled more than expected starting the season.
Demko came up with several big saves early in the game to keep the Sens off the board. The lone Senators goal came off a weird bounce: off Demko’s mask, way up in the air, and down into the net. Aside from that, he was perfect. If Demko plays like that more consistently, we might see a major turnaround in the Canucks’ season.
Olli Juolevi Starting to Look Better
Canucks General Manager Jim Benning has received a lot of criticism for drafting Olli Juolevi 5th overall in the 2016 Draft- especially because the 6th player taken was Calgary Flames star Matthew Tkachuk.
Juolevi has struggled with injuries throughout his career thus far, limiting his NHL regular season experience to just seven games. But now that he’s here, he’s starting to look better and better every night.
During Monday’s game against the Senators, the Finnish defenceman blasted a slapper directly off the face-off, up and over the shoulder of Matt Murray for his first-career NHL goal, making it 6-1 in favour of the Canucks. The sheepish smile on Juolevi’s face afterwards told it all: It doesn’t matter if it’s the 2-1 goal or the 6-1 goal, it’s a special moment when a player gets his first-ever tuck.
Canucks Rough Stuff
Canucks agitator Antoine Roussel had, well, a fight and a half during the game. Halfway through the 3rd period, Roussel attempted to fight Josh Brown, but couldn’t get his gloves off until moments before the officials broke them up. This resulted in minor penalties for both parties. However, with 22 seconds left in the game, Roussel made sure to do it right, mixing it up with Austin Watson, who had already fought Zack MacEwen earlier in the evening. Roussel currently sits at 981 penalty minutes over the 526 games he’s played in the League, and would sure love to hit that 1,000 PIM milestone.
Sutter’s Hat Trick
And, of course, Brandon Sutter had himself a night with his first-ever NHL hat-trick. Due to the obvious lack of fans in the building, not many hats were thrown onto the ice. There was, however, one: the hat of Canucks back-up goalie Braden Holtby, who did his part to celebrate the achievement of his teammate.
Sutter said regarding his first NHL hat trick: “It only took me 13 years.” That said, he couldn’t have picked a better time to get it. There was tons of talk Benning was on the hot seat as GM and the poor play of the Canucks this season was starting to become an issue.
The Canucks also had goals from Tyler Motte, Tanner Pearson, and Quinn Hughes, while Ottawa’s goal scorer was Austin Watson.
Game 2 of this 3-game series will be played Wednesday, where we’ll see if the Senators can come back with an answer, or if the Canucks will continue to capitalize.
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