The Vancouver Canucks got off to fast start scoring three goals, then held on like crazy to beat the New York Rangers 3-2 in an early-afternoon game on Sunday, October 20th.
What’s interesting is that the goals came in all ways – one on a power play, one at even-strength, and one short-handed. The power-play goal was especially welcome, because (for all the good they were doing this season) the Canucks had the league’s worst man-advantage and were 0 for 12 the previous two games. They needed one, and they got it.
As soon as the game started, the Canucks came out flying, firing 20 shots at the Rangers – they scored three. They are lucky they got those three goals because, once the second period started, the Rangers came roaring back. They scored one. Then, when the third period started, the Rangers came out even more aggressively – out shooting Canucks 17-6. They got one more. They couldn’t get the third.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. And, a win is good. In this post, I want to review five takeaways from the game.
Takeaway #1: Jacob Markstrom Is Back, and the Goaltending Is Good
Jacob Markstrom is a good goalie. He hadn’t played since October 12, but he stopped 38 of 40 shots to win his third straight game. He had lost his first two on the team’s beginning-of-the-season road trip.
Today, in a Swedish standoff, Markstrom took on one of the best NHL goalies of all time – Henrik Lundqvist. And, he prevailed. In fact, it didn’t look as if the Canucks’ starter had missed a beat with his time off.
If the Canucks are going to make any kind of a playoff run, they’re going to need good goaltending. And, so far, it looks as if they have it. Markstrom looked sharp in his return to the ice, and made stop-after-stop in the third period alone as the defense in front of him was overwhelmed by the Rangers’ pressure.
From my perspective, there’s no denying that the team was tired from its back-to-back.
Markstrom is ably helped by the play of backup Thatcher Demko who, in three games when Markstrom was gone, won two games and only gave up a single goal in the other – actually being named one of the three stars in the loss.
In total, Demko was 2-1 with a 1.64 GAA and .943 save percentage. That’s good. But Markstrom’s been good, too. After five games this season, his record is 3-2 with a 2.19 GAA and a .932 save percentage. That kind of goaltending can take a team a long way.
Takeaway #2: Elias Pettersson Is Back on His Game
Pettersson had first-period assists on goals by Bo Horvat (power play) and Brock Boeser. After starting the season slowly, the second-year center has two goals and six assists in his last six games to begin his second NHL season.
On goal #1, Horvat took a pass from Pettersson and beat Lundqvist from the inside edge of the left circle for his second goal of the season and the 100th of his career. On goal #2, Boeser fired Pettersson’s pass past Lundqvist’s glove for his second goal of the season.
Takeaway #3: Bo Horvat Is Showing His Leadership
Vancouver now has a captain, and this captain entered this game angry. Bo Horvat set out to change the tone early after a difficult loss during the first back-to-back. He noted: “I took that onus on myself to be the guy to get the boys going. I was really upset about the last game, we should have scored more power-play goals and we should have at least gotten a point out of that.”
Horvat hit a milestone when he joined the Calgary Flames’ Sean Monahan, Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, and Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov as the only three players from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft to reach 100-goals.
Takeaway #4: Jay Beagle Has His First Goal of the Season
Jay Beagle just keeps working, and today he was rewarded. He scored the game-winner (a short-handed goal) and gave the Canucks a 3-0 lead with less than five minutes left in the first period. He made a great individual rush up the ice. It was his first goal of the year and it held up as the game-winner after a comeback attempt by the Rangers fell short.
Give the Rangers credit. Although they kept trying, they couldn’t tie the game. As a result, Beagle’s goal stood up for 45 minutes of play.
As Beagle noted, it was “a little bit of redemption, but our team played amazing, we really did.” Then he gave his goalie the credit: “Marky stood on his head. It was just a good overall win.” (from Vin A. Cherwoo, “Canucks get off to fast start, hold on to beat Rangers 3-2,” Times Colonist, 10/20/19)
Takeaway #5: Advice: Come Out Strong in a Back-to-Back
The winner of a hockey game is the team that scores the most goals, and it doesn’t matter when these goals are scored. It was an odd game in that the Canucks scored so early and often that it seemed there was no hope the Rangers could come back. But they did – just not all the way.
There’s little doubt that the Canucks were tired after playing less than 24 hours earlier against the Devils. But, 20 minutes of stellar play and 40 minutes of desperation equaled a win. And, when the numbers are totaled at the end of the season, it will look like a blowout.
What’s Next for the Vancouver Canucks?
The Vancouver Canucks are crawling up the standings and are now fourth in the Pacific Conference with 10 points and a 5-3 record. They play a winnable game in Detroit on Tuesday evening before they return home.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the team will play there. They’ve had a good road trip thus far, and a win would make it a really good trip. I’m predicting a 4-2 win by the Canucks.
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