The Vancouver Canucks are starting to heat up.
After dismantling the Calgary Flames by a score of 7-1 to wrap up their homestand on Thursday night, the team headed east to kick off their four-game road trip against Artemi Panarin and the New York Rangers.
Vancouver was on a bit of a roll heading into Madison Square Garden, having won four of their past five games, but definitely had a daunting task ahead of them with the Rangers, who have been one of the top teams in the Metropolitan Division all year long.
Cue the praise.
Vancouver was able to hit the ground running on Sunday night, showcasing good speed, puck movement and physicality en route to one of their most complete victories of the year.
With the win, Vancouver was able to inch their way closer to the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference, now just sitting three points back of the Dallas Stars, who leaped over the Edmonton Oilers after their 2-1 regulation loss on Sunday.
Without further ado, here are three takeaways from Sunday’s 5-2 win in New York:
Demko does it again
There’s no doubt that Thatcher Demko has easily been the team’s MVP all season, and he proved that point once again on Sunday night.
New York appeared to be the better team at the beginning of the opening frame, forcing Demko to make a few stops early on, including a big left pad save on Mika Zibanejad in tight. The Canucks were able to collect the puck and start a counter-attack on that same play, which eventually led to Tanner Pearson’s 10th goal of the year to open the scoring.
Demko continued his heroics throughout the remainder of the first period, turning aside Chris Kreider on a breakaway, as well as robbing K’Andre Miller at the back door with a sprawling right pad denial before Tyler Myers was able to double the lead just before the first intermission.
The Canucks were able to pick up some of the slack in the second period, outshooting New York by a margin of 7-2 in the first 10 minutes, but Demko still had to be sharp. The former 2014 second round selection once again stymied Kreider, who was looking to break the shutout on another partial breakaway halfway through the frame.
The Rangers were eventually able to accomplish that task halfway through the final frame, thanks to Alexis Lafrenière’s 12th goal of the season, but the Canucks were fortunately able to close out the game for their netminder, with Elias Pettersson finding the empty net with just over two minutes to go.
Demko even managed to notch the primary assist on the play.
In the end, Demko turned aside 31 of 33 shots faced, including 14 in the third period alone.
With the victory, Demko was able to improve his record to 23-16-2 with a .916 SV% and 2.60 GAA. More importantly, however, Demko continues to provide the team with multiple bursts of energy throughout the contest, and his teammates are finally starting to take advantage of those key momentum swings.
Let’s hope they can continue to return the favour for their All-Star netminder.