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Shoot-out Win – Canucks 4, Jets 3 – Turbo Takeaways

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The Vancouver Canucks celebrate Nils Höglander's opening goal of the game.

Final Score in a Shoot-out: Vancouver Canucks 4, Winnipeg Jets 3

Pregame: Where the anticipation heading to the rink a week ago would have involved wondering what could possibly go wrong next, the anticipation now involves looking forward to seeing determined, high-energy hockey. Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau spelled out the gist of his philosophy this week, which centres around aggressive puck pursuit in all three zones.

The Canucks have executed successful puck hunting the last two games, creating turnovers all over the ice. The Friday night crowd at Rogers Arena was amped to see more of the same.

It’s only been six nights since the embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that ended the run of Canucks general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green, it just seems longer.

Goalie Town

Thatcher Demko made some extraordinary saves in the first two periods. His thievery of a Blake Wheeler attempt in the first period will ride the highlight reels for awhile.

In the final minute of the first period, Demko made two remarkable saves, the second of which led to a break-out and Nils Höglander’s second goal with :20-seconds remaining. It was definitely a softee from Jets goalie Eric Comrie, who fumbled a wrist shot and let it sneak in behind him. Demko initially earned an assist on the play but later had it taken away.

Sitting next to Kevin Woodley of NHL.com and InGoal Magazine in the press box, I get some nifty netminding insights on a regular basis. Friday night was no exception.

“Demko was already on top of his game coming into this one and a massive part of the Canucks recent run, climbing all the way to 7th in the NHL with 10.01 goals saved above expected, according to Clear Sight Analytics, and it may have gone up by a couple more goals in that first period alone with some of the high degree-of-difficulty saves he made.”

If he played in New York …

Holy moly, Kyle Connor would be a superstar doing soda pop commercials. He’s hockey’s best kept secret, tucked away in the chilly environs of southern Manitoba. He’s definitely no secret to opposing players and coaches, nor for paying customers who’ve bucked up to see the Jets.

His second period rush literally mezmerized the Canucks; it involved gaining the zone, a high speed pivot, and a cross-ice pass that found Mark Scheifele in the left wing circle for a successful one-timer.

The Canucks were caught watching, just like the rest of us.

“He’s a hell of a hockey player,” Boudreau said postgame. “When I was in Minnesota it was his first year and he has progressively gotten better and better and better. Now, he’s not only skilled, he’s extremely quick and he’s matured in his game, so he’s a really good player.”

The effort and the goal tied that game at three at the 11:08 mark of the second period and swung the momentum in the Jets favour. Winnipeg actually took the lead later in the period but the goal from Andrew Copp was waved off due to goaltender interference.

The Canucks settled down at that point and the rest of the game saw chances pretty much even.

This was a tremendously entertaining NHL hockey game. Shots on goal after regulation stood at 32-32.

Injuries:

The Canucks started the game without two key defencemen with the injury absence of lefty Oliver Ekman-Larsson and righty Travis Hamonic. Adjusting for depth, the replacements were Kyle Burroughs and Brad Hunt.

The two held up well. Hunt finished with 14:39 in ice time, two shot attempts, one on goal, while Burroughs skated for 14:44, had the same exact shot stats and three hits.

They Said It:

Conor Garland – “They’re a good team, they play with a lot of pace, so it was fast,” he said. “Probably traded too many chances, more than we’d like to, but we’ve got “Demmer” there, one of the best goalies in the league. Maybe too many shots for him tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”

Nils Höglander – “I don’t know, I don’t think we played our best game today, lots of turnovers and back and forth. We got points from the game. Even though we didn’t play our best game we got the win.”

Simmer’s 3 Stars:

3) Bo Horvat – Two assists, 19:21 TOI, 4 hits, and won 58% of his face-offs.

2) Nils Höglander – Two goals on five shots-on-goal in 13:34 of ice time.

1) Thatcher Demko – As repetitive as this may seem, it’s unavoidable. They mixed it up in the bulding with their choices, but this guy was the main reason the Canucks were victorious, especially when you throw in the shoot-out.

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