Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from 3-2 win over Vegas Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 24: Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrate with teammates after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in a shootout at T-Mobile Arena on October 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 24: Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrate with teammates after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in a shootout at T-Mobile Arena on October 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Despite being without its top two forwards and losing three players to injury mid-game, the Vancouver Canucks escaped with a gutsy 3-2 shootout victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Here’s what we learned.

The Vancouver Canucks have officially defeated all 30 other NHL franchises.

That’s right, Wednesday evening marked the first time where the Canucks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights. They were swept in the four-game season series a year ago, but Bo Horvat and co. finally got the monkey off their backs.

This was despite being without Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, their top two forwards. Top blueliners Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev left the game due to injuries. As did forward Sven Baertschi.

But Horvat and Jacob Markstrom pieced together gutsy performances and led Vancouver to its sixth win of the season. And by the way, the Canucks now lead the Pacific Division with 12 points. Once Boeser and Pettersson return, the sky will be the limit.

Here’s what we learned from another impressive victory.

Bo Horvat puts stamp on captaincy resume

Alright, that’s enough. No more playing games and telling fans that they have a “difficult decision” to make. The Canucks know who their captain is, and it’s a matter of when they announce it, not if.

Horvat carried a depleted Canucks team on his back in this one. He scored both goals in regulation and chased down Golden Knights’ sniper Jon Marchessault in the extra frame, thwarting a breakaway chance and potential game-winner.

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The 23-year-old Horvat played 21:47, won 68 percent of his face-offs and dished out four hits. He was all over the ice in this contest, and the Canucks simply wouldn’t have defeated the defending Western Conference champions without his efforts.

This is what a real leader does. The Canucks were without five of their top players, including their two best scorers and top blueliners. Horvat elevated the play of the teammates around him, and it led to a victory. Give him that captaincy already.

Secondary scoring is still a problem

Though there were plenty of things to feel good about in this win, head coach Travis Green can’t be happy about the lack of scoring from his second line and bottom-six forwards. Horvat had to tally the two goals without Baertschi, Boeser and Pettersson.

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Horvat (seven), Pettersson (five), Baertschi (three), Boeser (two) and Brandon Sutter (three), have scored 20 of this team’s 30 goals. Loui Eriksson has still yet to find the back of the net. Speedstesr Nikolay Goldobin and Brendan Leipsic have just one goal apiece.

Jake Virtanen and Markus Granlund — both looking for bounce-back seasons — have combined for three goals. Adam Gaudette is still looking for his first NHL goal.

It’s impressive that the Canucks have been able to pull out these low-scoring affairs against top-tier teams without their rookie standout and All-Star Boeser. But how much longer can they rely on these 2-1 and 3-2 victories?

The Canucks are building this core around the likes of Horvat, Boeser and Pettersson. But down the stretch, these other forwards have to start scoring soon. All of them have the talent and skill set to be key contributors offensively. But when will it start coming together? The Canucks need to find a way to get the rest going.

Canucks are showing plenty of maturity

The last three seasons saw the rebuilding Canucks make plenty of mistakes in games. They’d have leads in the third period, only to commit brutal turnovers and blow the game late. They wouldn’t be able to erase third period deficits. If one or two key players went down, the others wouldn’t step up in their absences.

But here are the Canucks. Without Pettersson for nearly two weeks, they sit at 6-4-0 and lead the Pacific Division. And they’ve beaten top quality teams, too.

We’re seeing plenty of leaps from this young Vancouver team. They’re learning how to hold onto leads, how to overcome injuries and how to close out games. It’s a short sample size, sure, but you have to be impressed with how they’re staying together and playing much more disciplined hockey.

Sure, the Canucks could go on a slump soon and fall out of the playoff race by December — which happened last season. But you shouldn’t bet on that. This team has tuned in a handful of gutsy performances, and they’re finding different ways to win games.

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And to think Boeser and Pettersson are coming back too. Hold on folks, this could be a fun year in Vancouver. When’s the last time fans got to say that?