Despite scoring the first goal of the game, the Vancouver Canucks dropped this one to the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome, 5-2. Halfway through the game, it was clear which team played the night before and had to travel, and which had the night off. The Canucks came out hot but lost their legs by the second period, getting outshot 39-22 in total.
The most notable line for me tonight was the Mikheyev-Pettersson-Garland line. This line led the team in expected goals for with 0.344, per MoneyPuck. Although the line finished as a minus-2, they generated a lot of pressure early on. Conor Garland seemed to fit right into Kuzmenko’s spot, continuing his impressive play from the night before.
This game started very similar to how overtime started last night: an early shot on a two-on-one for J.T. Miller. Quinn Hughes took an early penalty, but Elias Pettersson got the Canucks back on course after drawing a penalty on the penalty kill. After the power play set up, the league-leading trio caught Jacob Markstrom looking, finishing off a crisp set of passes with a wide-open look from Pettersson.
The Canucks have been heavily linked to Nikita Zadorov amidst the rumours of his trade request. Zadorov seemed to want to show off for his potential suitors, as he had two shots and a hit in the first 10 minutes of the first period. In the final two minutes of the first, a successful Flames breakout lead to a high-danger chance on the rush, with Elias Lindholm finding A.J. Greer at the top of the slot. Greer directed a nice touch pass back to a streaking MacKenzie Weegar, who gathered it in stride and wired it passed Casey DeSmith. The period closed in a 1-1 tie, and things would only go downhill from here for the Canucks.
It was a slow, defensive start to the second period. It wasn’t until halfway through we saw a crack in the defense. Dillon Dube was hit into the boards from behind by Noah Juulsen, but the play was not called for a penalty. The fans showed their frustration with the missed call, but that frustration was short-lived. A failed Juulsen clear went right to Dube, keeping the play alive. Rasmus Andersson then took a Lindholm pass down the wing and threw a harmless wrister on net. His shot squeaks through DeSmith, where Dube got his revenge and buried the rebound.
Later that period, Martin Pospisil laid an open-ice hit on Hughes, in which Phillip Di Giuseppe challenged him to no avail. It wasn’t until later that shift – after a net-front battle – that Filip Hronek was able to stand up for his captain. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Noah Hanifin tricked the Canucks defense, feigning taking the puck behind the net. Instead, he quickly pulled the puck back, getting a shot off from a tough angle, and extending the Flames lead to 3-1. The second period was a period to forget for the Canucks, as the Flames outshot them 17-5.
The final frame was when the Canucks’ fatigue really started to show. Everybody was sloppy with the puck, which lead to multiple defensive turnovers in their own end. Maybe the biggest story for the Flames in this game was Jonathan Huberdeau getting the monkey off his back, breaking his 11-game goalless streak with a sharp-angle shot over DeSmith. Nils Hoglander drew the Canucks within two shortly after, tipping in a Tyler Myers shot from the point.
There was a glimmer of hope for the Canucks when Pospisil took a penalty when he slashed DeSmith’s stick out of his hands. Head coach Rick Tocchet was impressed with Garland’s play enough to put him on the top unit at the most critical time of the game. Garland had a great scoring chance tipping a Miller slap pass on net, but in an attempt to get his rebound, he tripped Zadorov. This penalty ultimately ended the game, as the Canucks weren’t able to restore the momentum that they had built.
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We were a Nazem Kadri point away from back-to-back article sweeps; Kadri couldn’t find the score sheet on any of the five Flames goals. Pettersson found the back of the net early on. Garland was a lost cause, heading into the third period with zero shots on goal. He came up clutch with two in the period, though.