Powerplay finally breaks through
It was a tale of two stories for Vancouver’s special teams on Sunday night.
Heading into the contest, it was no surprise that both the powerplay and penalty kill were the two main factors that were sinking this team at home.
Over the past five games, the Canucks had only managed to score one powerplay goal, way back in their home-opener against the Minnesota Wild. As we all know, it went straight downhill from there, with the team going 0/17 over the next four contests, including a combined eleven missed opportunities against New York and Nashville.
And it definitely paid off.
The man advantage was able to deliver in a huge way, notching three tallies on six chances. None of these goals were just luck, either.
For the first time in a long time, the powerplay didn’t have difficulty carrying the puck through the neutral zone, and were able to quickly set up in the offensive zone as a result. The primary unit also made sure that they weren’t stagnant with the puck, constantly moving and cycling in the corners before getting pucks on net as often as they could.
This was particularly evident on Miller’s second goal of the game.
The play starts with Hughes, who sends a pass to Pettersson on his right. As soon as Pettersson receives the pass, he quickly hits Miller coming out from behind the net before immediately moving to the crease to screen Khudobin. This allows Miller enough time to move to the flank, pass the puck back to Hughes and then set up for the one-timer, which he eventually blasts past the Stars’ netminder.
Same could be said for Vancouver’s first powerplay goal of the game.
In this play, Horvat is able to cleanly win the faceoff and get the puck to Boeser on the flank. Boeser immediately cycles the puck back up to Hughes at the point, and then moves to the front of the net to allow Miller to take over his position. As a result, Dallas’s penalty killers weren’t able to achieve proper coverage, allowing Miller to walk in and pick his spot with a slick wrister.
Miller recorded his team-leading 13th and 14th points of the year, while Hughes finished the night with three primary powerplay assists.
Sunday’s man advantage dominance was also wake-up call for Pettersson, who recorded one goal and two assists, including this absolute dart from the blueline.
It wasn’t Pettersson’s strongest outing in the end, with the Swedish centre still creating turnovers and mishandling the puck in the neutral zone, but fans, medias and coaches alike are hoping that Sunday’s performance can catapult EP40 out of his early season funk once and for all.