The Vancouver Canucks got a big boost from the return of Brandon Sutter, and pulled off a 3-2 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild. Here are three takeaways as they head into the bye week.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the Vancouver Canucks will happily take two points as they head into their bye week.
An unusually quiet and monotone Xcel Energy Center watched the Canucks and Wild play the ultimate defensive game. Mind you, the crowd was probably just a tad bit excited about the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings advancing to the NFC Championship Game on a last-second miracle. Both trapped up the neutral zone and made this game quite the yawn fester, until the final minutes of the third.
Late goals from Daniel Winnik and Thomas Vanek provided some pump into this game, sending it into overtime. In his first game back from injury, Brandon Sutter roofed a shot over Devan Dubnyk to hand Vancouver its second straight win.
It was one of the team’s better all-around games of 2017-18. Now, let’s break down three key takeaways from this thrilling Sunday night game.
Loui Eriksson shows up
Loui Eriksson entered Sunday’s game having not scored a goal since Nov. 30 against the Nashville Predators.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
He had also been held to just one assist in his last eight games — further making the front office look a tad bit silly for handing out a $36 million contract.
But Eriksson finally had himself a game against the Wild. He finished a nice feed from Alexander Edler to tie the game up late in the first period.
He also picked up an assist and had three shots on goal. Eriksson played 17:01 on the night.
The Canucks could obviously use more performances like this from Eriksson. He is making $6 million a year through the next four years after this, after all. He doesn’t have to score, but setting up plays, logging big minutes and playing like a force on defence sure helps.
A nice bounce-back game for Eriksson. Can he keep it going after the bye week?
Canucks love the Xcel Energy Center
With the win, the Canucks swept the two-game series in Minnesota this year. It also marked the team’s third consecutive victory in the State of Hockey — and their fourth in the last five meetings there.
Some things just don’t have much explanation. The Wild are consistently among the NHL’s best home teams, while the Canucks have been one of the league’s most consistent bottom-feeders in the last five years.
But there’s something about this rivalry that seems to favor the Canucks. They have inferior scoring depth, defence and goaltending. Yet, trips in Minnesota always seem to bring positive results.Too bad this was their last trip to Minny or the season.
Jacob Markstrom’s regaining his form
In a game where the Canucks were outplayed in many areas, Jacob Markstrom constantly shut the door on a lethal Wild offence. He stopped 21 of 23 shots faced, and made a phenomenal save on Jared Spurgeon just minutes before Sutter’s overtime game-winner.
This came two days after Markstrom shut the door on the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of the top teams in the NHL. In that game, Markstrom stopped 27 of 29 shots to help the Canucks win their first game of 2018.
Markstrom has shown signs of busting out of a month-long slump. He was terrific when the Canucks needed him most in these last two games. Hopefully, the momentum and confidence can be sustained.