Vancouver Canucks leading scorer JT Miller had the first scoring chance of the hockey game as he rushed into the left wing circle and ripped a shot off the mask of Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger at the 3:28 mark.
JT was picking up where he left off. One got the sense it would be just a matter of time before he played a part in the scoring. Miller is top-4 in the NHL in terms of the positive offensive impact he has on his team, factoring in on 42.2% of the Canucks goals this season.
There was a sense of MIller-inevitability against the Stars, although there was a blip at the 7:07 mark when he took an awkward hit in the neutral zone in front of the benches and seemed to tweak his knee. Miller limped to the bench but came back out for his next shift about a minute later.
Obviously not a guy the Vancouver Canucks can afford to lose. Tied for 9th in scoring in the NHL with 78 points, 26 points ahead of the next closest guy on the Canucks, defenceman Quinn Hughes, Miller has 32 points in his last 18 games.
2nd Period Intensity
With the Canucks gradually finding their road legs in their third game in four nights, we expected Vancouver’s offensive intensity to pick up in the 2nd period.
Five minutes in, Miller won two consecutive offensive zone draws in the left wing circle, the second one leading to a scoring chance that he set up for Conor Garland. Garland ripped the shot off the post and the carom ended up behind the skates of Tanner Pearson with an empty net. The puck skidded wide.
Dallas would score the opening goal of the game on the next shift.
Eight minutes in, Miller deflected a Hughes shot on net and Oettinger was up to the task.
When the Canucks earned their first power play opportunity of the game at 15:10 of the period, it took them just 14-seconds to score. Miller won the face-off, Vancouver controlled, and Elias Pettersson scored on a one-timer. ‘Petey’ from Hughes and Miller.
So there it was, the four-game point streak extended for MIller, with points in 17 of his last 20.
Would Miller be the difference in this urgent game? Place your bets …
As it turns out, he wouldn’t be THE difference, but he played a gigantic role as usual. He added a goal in the final minute for his 3rd two-point night in his last four games.
He played three more minutes than any other Vancouver Canucks forward at 22:16. He lost one more draw than he won, but he took 27 of them in a road game. Miller finished with six shots on goal.
He played 2:03 on the first power play unit, one that only needed 14-seconds to score on its first attempt, and he finished with 2:58 of penalty killing time, as the PK went a perfect 3-for-3. It got dicey in the third period, but it survived.
Wonky knee? Not likely, as Miller appeared to shake off the limp quickly and it obviously didn’t impact his performance.
it won’t get any easier Monday night in St. Louis, and it seems JT Miller wouldn’t have it any other way.