The Vancouver Canucks welcome Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals to Rogers Arena for game two of a make-or-break seven-game homestand.
Tonight, the Canucks will sport their eye-popping custom Pride jerseys made by Swedish artist Hermine Linzie, who goes by the name Mio on social media.
In an interview with the Canucks, the designer revealed her muse behind the piece.
“I wanted to tell a story about being stuck trying to find yourself, but finding yourself in others, finding a community [and] growing to accept yourself,” said Mio.
Canucks For Kids Fund has also made a $10,000 donation to two 2SLGBTQIA+ non-profit organizations.
Tonight’s game marks the first time masks will no longer be required, since the pause in play during the 2019-2020 season. Fans are still required to show proof of double vaccination until April 8th.
In other news, local Surrey hometowner and leading WHL point scorer Arshdeep Bains has signed an entry level contract with the Canucks. The Red Deer Rebels forward is 21 years old and has 82 points (30 goals, 52 assists) through 55 games.
This is the second and final matchup between the fourth-best team in the Metropolitan Division and the Canucks. Vancouver won their last matchup on January 16 by a score of 4-2 on the back of a two-goal performance from Elias Pettersson – who was just getting the monkey off of his back. Now, he is two goals short of his third 20 goal campaign in the NHL.
In a gridlock shot contest, special teams were the end all be all. The Capitals were able to connect for two powerplay goals on the two Canucks penalties taken, while Vancouver’s penalty kill operated at 50% on the night.
Vancouver last played Washington at home on Oct 26, 2019, in a 6-5 shootout loss. Jacob Markstrom was between the pipes, and Tim Schaller netted two goals. Only eight members of that roster actively play for the team today.
The Canucks are coming down to the wire. With 24 games left in the season, and a 32.8% playoff chance according to MoneyPuck, Vancouver can’t afford to drop much-needed points with a home crowd advantage.
No new fixings on the lineup card for tonight. Abbotsford Canucks’ own Sheldon Rempal has reported to practice and is currently the team’s 13th forward. Rempal, who played for the Nanaimo Clippers for three seasons in the BCHL, has zero points in 10 NHL games.
Keys to the Game
The Canucks need to continue finding ways to win games. Washington has been hot and cold as of late, snapping their three-game winning streak to the Edmonton Oilers in overtime. Edmonton sits two points ahead of Vancouver with zero games in hand. Vancouver has had success at home against the Capitals, having a 24-18-5-2 all-time record.
Score fast and score often: in their last four games, Washington has scored 17 goals, and so have the Canucks. The great eight opened the scoring last time. Vancouver can’t surrender an early lead and play catchup all night long.
Since Boudreau’s takeover, the Canucks have the second-best penalty differential in the league. The Capitals take few penalties and sit in the top half of the league in penalty killing. Their powerplay, however, is a low point at just 17.8%.
Stay hot, top six: Vancouver will need all hands on deck. Starting tonight, they will embark on six games in nine days down the stretch. All four lines have to be rolling, and the likes of Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and J.T. Miller need to find the back of the net.
Players to Watch
Hammer time: that’s right, Travis Hamonic is among Miller for the most career points against the Capitals. Hamonic has five goals in 30 appearances, whereas Miller has four.
Pettersson has also recorded a goal in all four of his career meetings against the Capitals. He snapped a three-game goalless drought against the Canadians. He had eight shots on goal in 17:34 on the penalty kill.
History chaser: Ovechkin is one goal away from becoming the NHL’s all-time leading European-born scorer. Nicklas Backstrom, who recently tailed his 1,000-career point, is on a three-game point streak, and Evgeny Kuznetsov is at four.
With Thatcher Demko in net, the Canucks will look to catch a tired Capitals team who is wrapping up the final of a three-game western road trip. A win will tie the Canucks with the Oilers, and put them two points behind the third place Golden Knights but only if the Knights lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM. You can catch the game on Sportsnet Pacific or listen to it on Sportsnet 650.