Final Score: Vancouver Canucks 6, Ottawa Senators 2
The Vancouver Canucks entered the game tied with the second fewest points in the Western Conference while the Ottawa Senators came in with the fewest points in the NHL. That’s sixteen and nine, respectively. The Canucks feature slew-foot victim Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Brad Marchand) while the Senators featured bite victim Brady Tkachuk (Brendan Lemieux).
Ottawa also comes in having just removed their final player, Drake Batherson, from Covid protocols, a situation that forced the club to postpone three games. Everyone’s back. Will we see a simple game of shinny like we saw in the Canucks 2-1 win in Montreal Monday evening, or something more dynamic?
Even Better Start
Lately the Canucks have been scoring their share of first goals, something that became an extreme rarity the first twenty games of the season. In Ottawa, Vancouver waited only 1:38 into the first period to get on the board. Who else – the catalyst Conor Garland with a sweet move along the end-boards to find Tanner Pearson in front of the net for an early 1-0 lead.
The Garland, Ekman-Larsson acquisition is proving to be Canucks GM Jim Benning’s best move of the summer.
Another weakness this season for the Canucks has been adding to that goal total on the rare occasions they’ve had an early lead. Vancouver has scored two goals or less in 16 of their 23 games. That puts a lot of pressure on their goaltenders, both of whom have performed well this season … sometimes heroically.
Just after I pointed out that last bit, Ottawa tied the game just past the midway point of the 1st period with a power play goal from former Canuck Adam Gaudette. Not only did the Canucks not get back-to-back goals, their penalty kill percentage dropped a little further, entering action the worst in the NHL at 63.4%.
The Canucks did kill off the Senators second opportunity. The first period ended tied 1-1. Ottawa 1-for-2 on the PP, the Canucks 0-for-1. The better start was short lived in what was a relatively emotionless, evenly played period. Shots were 11-11.
Boeser Picking it Up
His shot hasn’t been the one Vancouver Canucks fans have grown accustomed to. His confidence appeared to still be wavering. During the first power play of the game, he had an excellent chance from the left wing circle with a one-timer and shot it wide. He has the 4th most shot attempts on the team entering action tonight, 107, and he’s missed the net on 35.4% of his unblocked shots.
Boeser made a sweet backhand saucer pass on the rush to JT Miller, who fed Tyler Myers heading to the net on the right wing for a Grade-A scoring chance late in the first period. Senators goalie Filip Gustavsson robbed him. Very nice creativity and execution on the rush.
Keep in mind, Boeser entered action against Ottawa having tallied just one point over his last ten games, with a cumulative minus-10. A primitive stat’, but telltale. He’s ready to snap out of it.
Boeser let two drives go early in the third period. The first one was blocked from the mid-point, the second one from the high slot was just wide. Noticeable however was the release. It was a wicked drive and Boeser got all of it. A good sign.
As for Pettersson, I didn’t really notice him in the first period. Now I know why. He played just 4:39 and didn’t generate a stat’. He was slotted on the third line with Justin Dowling and Vasily Podkolzin.
After the Canucks scored early in the 2nd period to take a 2-1 lead, they then found themselves heading to the penalty box. With no Petey on the PK, it meant less ice time again. The Canucks killed off a Senators 5-on-3.
At 10:05 of the 2nd period the Canucks picked up their second power play. Early on, Petey wired a one-timer wide from the right wing circle. The carom ended up in the neutral zone. His next shot from the left wing circle was deflected out of play.
Quiet night. Petey picked up an assist on Miller’s goal with 2:50 remaining in the game.
Now We Wait …
… briefly. Of all the chatter surrounding the Vancouver team, trade talk, etc., one concept that seems realistic is that we could see a change or two when the Canucks return from this trip. There’s a level of logic there, but then again, why would we start applying logic to what has thus far been a very bizarre Canucks hockey season.
There’s also the possibility the club kicks the can down the road a wee bit, a wait and see, after wins against the Canadiens and Senators. I’m only sort of joking.
There’s no question the Canucks will get a boost of confidence. It’ll be a much nicer cross-country flight home.
By the way, the Senators were awful, and it was their sixth loss in a row.
Simmer’s Canucks 3-Stars:
3) – Conor Garland – Going with the stat’s this evening and could go a number of ways, but Garland with assists on the first two Canucks goals and some solid shift disturbing. He and Miller had a team high 5 shots each.
2) – Luke Schenn – What the heck! Give the big veteran, Hughes’s partner, some love. His cut to the net for a goal in the final minute of the 2nd period gave the Canucks the breathing room they needed and he finished with a goal and an assist.
1) – Quinn Hughes – Based on his ice time and importance he would, could, and should be a regular on this list. Tonight he kicked in four assists, his first career four point game.
In case you missed them, here are the quarter-pole report cards. Hopefully for the sake of Canucks fans, I don’t have to repeat many of these: