Final Score: Anaheim Ducks 3, Vancouver Canucks 2 in Overtime
With the Vancouver Canucks trailing 2-0 in the 2nd half of the 3rd period, JT Miller appeared to get pissed off. Not at anyone in particular, just the situation. Or maybe himself. While backchecking midway through the period he accidentally booted an Anaheim Ducks’ rebound into his own net after his goalie Jaroslav Halak had made a save. It gave the visitors their second goal.
Regardless, the concept of finishing this seven game homestand with two wins and five losses appeared to turn up his heat metre. He led an increase in Canucks intensity.
It’s appropriate Miller’s goal started the late comeback with a shot through a heavy screen at the 13:29 mark. Elias Pettersson would then score the Canucks first shorthanded goal of the season, with Vancouver’s net empty, actually skating five-on-five, with 55-seconds left in the game.
Troy Terry scored for the Ducks at 3:52 of overtime to win it.
The Canucks outshot the Ducks 43-30. The home power play went 0-for-2, the road team finished 1-for-4.
The Canucks finish their homestand 2-4-1.
The game progression …
Groundhog Day … Again
Here’s something different … NOT! The Canucks played a very good first period at five-on-five and had a very productive single power play that produced multiple chances but failed to score. Vancouver outshot the Anaheim Ducks 12-8 but found themselves trailing after twenty minutes.
That’s because, also customary, the opponent scored first, and they did it against the Vancouver Canucks league-worst penalty kill that came in with a success rate of 63.9%. That number went further south when defenceman Cam Fowler tallied at 11:18 on the man advantage from Sonny Milano and Terry.
For the eleventh time in thirteen Vancouver Canucks games, the opponent scored first. More come from behind hockey.
Pacific Division Blues …
All Western Conference games are important for the Canucks because of the wild card race, so winning the match-ups against Central Division opponents is imperative. That said, the Pacific Division games head-to-head take on a greater significance as you try to bury your closest rivals. Finish in the top three in the Pacific and you don’t have to worry about the wild card. Every game is important but in-division matches are essentially four-pointers.
The Canucks entered action Tuesday night with a 1-1-and-1 record against division foes. It stayed at an NHL .500 of 1-1-and-2.
All three games on the upcoming road trip are against Western Conference opponents, the first against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night in Denver and the latter two in the Pacific against the Vegas Golden Knights and these same Ducks. A friendly reminder, all three California teams were supposed to still be in rebuilding mode but have started solid out of the blocks. Of course, often, young teams with hot starts will cool off as the season bears down.
More Olympic Dreamin’
We didn’t see a head-to-head match-up Tuesday between potential Team USA Winter Olympic goaltenders John Gibson of the Ducks and Thatcher Demko of the Canucks. Demko was due a night off and it was clear early on in the homestand that it was shaping up for a Halak start Tuesday night.
Having watched Demko this season, Canucks fans might assume that he’s not only a shoe-in to make the USA roster, yes, but that he’s also the likely starter. Not so fast. Gibson, a veteran stalwart, who some have described at times as “having ice in his veins”, jumped out to a quick start this season, including being named the NHL 2nd star of the week for the period ending Sunday. He just ran his all-time record against Vancouver to 11-2-and-1 with a goals against average around 1.8.
He has a history with the USA program, if you will, he was the World Junior Championship Most Valuable Player when Team USA won Gold in Ufa, Russia in 2013 (JT Miller was a teammate) and he also led the senior men to a very rare bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF World Championship later that same year.
Another development to pay attention to could actually go against a Canuck. Brock Boeser might no longer be a shoe-in on the right wing for the Americans. The aforementioned young Troy Terry of the Ducks, who had a goal and an assist Tuesday night to extend a 12-game point streak, is a threat to displace a veteran. Like Gibson he also has a history, he was a shoot-out hero for Team USA against Canada in the 2017 World Junior Championship.
Either way, a great majority of Canucks fans will be rooting against all of them come February.
At the other end of the ice, Halak could use some love, love in the form of some offense from his teammates. There really hasn’t been a drop-off from Demko to Halak thus far between the pipes, their numbers are very similar. Although less spectacular than Demko, he’s always given his teammates a chance to win. In his three starts this season, Halak has seen his team score one goal, one goal, and then two.
By the way, Halak has already been named to the Slovakian Olympic team. His personal career goal before this season started was to eventually reach 300 career wins. With the Canucks thus far, he’s stuck at 281.
Simmer’s Canucks 3-Stars:
3) Brock Boeser – A two assist night with four shots and two takeaways in 20:44 of ice time. He edges out his captain here.
2) Jaroslav Halak – “Another solid performance,” said Canucks Head Coach Travis Green, “Would have been nice to get him another goal.”
1) JT Miller – Forget the bad bounce on the 2nd Ducks goal, Miller was the guts behind the Canucks comeback, tallying a goal, four shots and two blocked shots in more than 24-minutes of ice time.