The Vancouver Canucks played arguably their most complete game of the season, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. Here are three key takeaways from the team’s third consecutive victory.
Just about everything went wrong for the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, and they held off the pesky Carolina Hurricanes with a 3-0 victory. There won’t be many complaints about this effort — and the Canucks jumped back into the third spot in the Pacific Division.
It was Vancouver’s third straight win, and just their fifth victory at Rogers Arena this season. It also ensured that Carolina’s losing streak in Vancouver extended to 18 games (they haven’t won here since Oct .15, 1999).
The Canucks didn’t get too much help from the out of town scoreboard, unfortunately. The Los Angeles Kings staged a third period comeback against the Minnesota Wild, while the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout. Not good for any Pacific Division team.
But hey, the Canucks played a heckuva game, and it’s all that matters. Here are three takeaways from the 3-0 win over Carolina.
Markstrom finally gets a shutout
It took his 129th career start, but Jacob Markstrom finally registered his first NHL shutout (as pointed out by Joey Kenward of Sportsnet 650). He came awfully close against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, but James van Riemsdyk scored with 2:52 left to spoil the party.
But Markstrom finally caught his big break, stopping all 30 shots in the victory. That included this terrific save on Justin Williams:
Markstrom continues to show he’s capable of being a legitimate number one goalie in the NHL. The 27-year-old is now 8-8-3 on the season with a 2.41 goals against average and .919 save percentage.
And the good news? There’s simply no way Markstrom goes that long without registering a shutout again. The monkey is now off his back.
Derrick Pouliot: Early Christmas gift
General manager Jim Benning looked to add more depth on Vancouver’s blue line heading into this season. So he traded Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Derrick Pouliot. And boy, has it paid major dividends for the Canucks.
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Pouliot — who has succeeded as a shutdown defenceman — provided a goal and two assists in the victory.
In this game, he played 20:47 of ice time. Pouliot was all over the ice, and it’s just the latest reminder that he has finally found his game here in Vancouver. The Penguins didn’t know it, but they gave the team an early Christmas gift in Derrick Pouliot.
Oh, and this is quite the stat you’ll have to tell your friends about:
Is it too early to talk about the Norris Trophy?
‘Killer B’s’ Breakup
With Sven Baertschi struggling to score, the Canucks moved him down the lineup and placed Nikolay Goldobin on the top line. It did wonders, as Goldobin scored a goal in the third period to ice the game.
Bo Horvat also left the game, though head coach Travis Green said that it was a small injury and there’s no update, per the team’s Twitter account. That’s where Sam Gagner moved up to centre and finished the game with Brock Boeser and Goldobin.
Baertschi has been held pointless in his last six games, and hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 21 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
His ice time has been cut, and it’s hard to see him getting back on the top line should the Goldobin experiment work — and it has so far.
Green’s latest line combinations could just be temporary, and he may decide to put Baertschi on the top line eventually. If Horvat does miss a couple of games, the Canucks will have to decide who the new top line centre should be.
Right now, the future of the ‘Killer B’s’ sticking around as the top line is in question. It’ll depend on if Horvat is healthy, and if Baertschi can return to his old form.