On a night where the Calgary Flames could have set a franchise record for most consecutive wins with 11, the Vancouver Canucks tallied their most goals in a single game this season.
Last night’s affair between the number one team in the pacific and the playoff-hopeful Canucks, was a startling contrast to last month’s matchup at the Saddledome, which needed an extra frame for the lone goal of the game. In ten meetings last year, 63 goals were shared between the two teams.
Heading into the toughest test of the three-game homestand, special teams, albeit sounding like a broken record, needed to work in the Canucks favour against a Calgary team who had only given up one power play goal in the last 10 games.
It certainly turned out that way for the full capacity hometeam, who gave their fans at least seven reasons to get excited.
Rogers Arena was certainly the place to be last night: the energy was certainly palpable before the drop of the puck. Thatcher Demko, making his 40th start of the season, looked to stifle the dynamite Calgary offence in an absolutely gorgeous Kirk McLean set-up, while Jacob Markstrom looked for his ninth straight win back in Vancouver in front of fans.
Quinn Hughes also squared off against his first-year D partner, and 10-year Canuck veteran, Chris Tanev. There was plenty of Vancouver influence to go around, including hometowner Milan Lucic and former Canucks, Erik Gudbranson and Tyler Toffoli.
The first period was lively with chances: a pass in the slot to an unguarded Bo Horvat slid through his feet for one of a few dangerous Canucks looks. The Flames equally countered, met with a few key Demko saves to keep the game scoreless. Demko is 10-7 at home this season with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
Then, the break Vancouver needed, in the form of a Matthew Tkachuk slashing penalty against Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who didn’t engage with Calgary’s resident instigator.
Fortunately for the Canucks, their first power play wasn’t an indicator of how the rest of the game unfolded. The disjointed unit didn’t test Markstrom and even gave up a golden breakaway to none other than Toffoli, who’s found the back of the net twice in four games with his new team.
Despite the best Canuck chance of the period coming from a wide-open Vasily Podkolzin shot, fans witnessed a fourth consecutive period between both teams remain deadlocked.
Heading into the second, the Canucks needed to be quicker on getting pucks on and off their stick with traffic in front of the net. Success was going to come on pressing forechecks: not losing 50/50 neutral zone pucks.