Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from victory over Flames

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 11: Sam Gagner /

Following their worst game of the season, the Vancouver Canucks offence exploded and left with a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. Here’s what we learned from the thrilling victory.

The Vancouver Canucks were far from perfect on Tuesday night, but there’s plenty to feel good about after a 5-3 road win against the red-hot Calgary Flames. That’s one way of forgetting about Monday’s frustrating 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

Jacob Markstrom — who has been arguably the most impressive and dominant Canuck thus far — didn’t have his best game. Once again, the defencemen were out of position too frequently and sloppy in their own zone.

But this time, the Canucks forwards took charge and led the Canucks to a thrilling 5-3 win. This back-and-forth contest may have been the most entertaining game each side has played all year. The Canucks are now 8-5-2 on the season, and passed the San Jose Sharks for third in the Pacific Division.

Now, let’s take a look at three key takeaways from this crucial Canucks victory.

Road warriors

The Canucks have completely flipped the script this season. Despite being the NHL’s second-worst team last year, they managed a respectable 18-17-6 home record. But their 12-26-3 road record was quite bad, to put it mildly.

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This time, the Canucks are in the playoff race, not very good at home (3-4-2), but excellent on the road with a 5-1-0 record. Don’t ask why or how, but Vancouver has enjoyed playing away from home this season.

Granted, the Flames aren’t so great in their own barn, holding a 4-5-0 record at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

But the Canucks have escaped with road wins over quality teams like the Flames, Minnesota Wild and Ottawa Senators. That’s nothing to laugh at.

The good news for the team and fans is that this road trip isn’t over yet. The Canucks now visit the three California road teams and don’t return home until Nov. 16, against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Canucks seem to be enjoying life on the road. There’s plenty of reason for optimism as they prepare for three tough games against a trio of perennial playoff teams.

Slump busters

Yesterday, I wrote about how the Canucks weren’t getting any secondary scoring, with the “Killer B’s Line” being responsible for most of the offence. Well, a large number of Canucks players broke some big slumps and gave Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Sven Baertschi some much-needed support.

For starters, Sam Gagner scored his first goal since last Monday’s loss to the Dallas Stars. The second Vancouver goal came from Thomas Vanek — who had his first goal since Oct. 26 against the Washington Capitals.

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Derek Dorsett also scored his seventh goal of the season, which was his first point since the aforementioned Washington game. The Canucks insurance goal came from Henrik Sedin, who finally scored his first goal of the season.

Also, Ben Hutton chipped in with two assists and redeemed himself after a forgettable performance against Detroit. This was a true team victory, with the Canucks getting offence from all four lines. This is going to be the key to Vancouver’s success (or lack thereof), going forward.

Jacob Markstrom is the No. 1

Anders Nilsson is on leave with his wife due for a baby, according to the team. With that, the Canucks have been rolling with Markstrom — who has more than shown his ability to handle the duties and responsibilities of being a No. 1 goalie.

With the win, Markstrom improves to 5-4-2 on the season. He now has a .917 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average. He was the reason Vancouver only lost to Detroit by a goal, and he was critical in helping Vancouver upset the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Markstrom hasn’t gotten a ton of support from his defencemen, and it hasn’t been easy without Alexander Edler, Troy Stecher or two-way forward Loui Eriksson. But he’s giving Vancouver a fighting chance to win every game. That’s what a true No. 1 does.

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It’s unclear when Nilsson will return. But with the way he’s been playing, Markstrom may finally put an end to this goalie controversy. He’s simply playing at a level no Canucks goalie has in some seasons.