The Vancouver Canucks turned a sliver of hope into a glimmer of optimism with their 4-2 victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. The playoff door is slightly ajar.
From metaphors to the actual numbers …
3rd Place – Pacific Division – Los Angeles Kings – 73 games played, 86 points (The Kings play this evening in Minnesota)
1st Wild Card – Nashville Predators – 71 games played, 86 points (The Predators play this afternoon in Pittsburgh)
2nd Wild Card – Dallas Stars – 71 games played, 84 points (The Stars play again this evening in Chicago)
Vegas Golden Knights – 73 games played, 84 points
Vancouver Canucks – 73 games played, 80 points
Winnipeg Jets – 72 games played, 77 points (The Jets play this evening in Ottawa)
— The Vancouver Canucks host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday and the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
“Dickie (Jason Dickinson) to get that goal, for a guy who hasn’t played a lot lately, it was really good to see,” Vancouver Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Any time you can get balanced scoring or you can get scoring from other ways, because our power play wasn’t very good tonight, those are ways you find a way that you haven’t done in awhile, it was good to see.”
Both Dickinson and Conor Garland ended personal 20-game goalless droughts with Dickinson’s stretching across a lengthy injury absence.
Friday we wrote about Vasily Podkolzin’s improvement. Saturday night ‘Gabby’ evaluated his play.
“Thought he played really good,” Boudreau said. “He was stickhandling, thought he was making moves, passing, I think a little bit of bad luck. This stuff next year will be going in the net for him, but he’s certainly gaining a lot of confidence and I’m gaining a lot of confidence in him. Him and (Alex) Chiasson, two big guys who can play that kind of game where they can forecheck really well and are pretty responsible right now, so I hope he keeps it going.”
The Game Winner
With a three point night against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday and a two-pointer Saturday night, including the game winning goal against the San Jose Sharks, Chiasson was a postseason media guest for back-to-back games for the first time this season. He talked about tallying the go-ahead goal at 2:07 of the third period.
“Just a good play for Bo (Horvat) to get back on it,” Chiasson pointed out. “Feels like when we play that way, we shoot it, we get it back, we create second opportunities. Nice to get off to a good start there in the third.”
After what the team considered an inconsistent performance for much of the night, the Canucks turned it on at the end.
“Seems like the third period always brings out the best in us,” Chiasson said, “it felt good to get rewarded, to score right away, and find a way to play the rest of the twenty minutes there. Obviously having ‘Demmer’ in net helps a lot, made some key saves, and just two points and move on.”
Thatcher Demko stopped 35 of 37 shots with one of the Sharks goals coming on a 5-on-3 power play.
“Our starts haven’t been that good at home, so we wanted to come out and make sure we came out hard and I thought we did that,” defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said, “but at the same time I thought we took too many penalties. We’ve gotta stay cool and focus on the way we have to play. So we kind of got away from it a little bit but at the same time I like the way we kind of came out and yeah, you can tell the guys wanted to win this game.”
Once OEL smirked and another time he hopped across referencing Kyle Burroughs’s massive hit in the first two minutes on Sharks defenceman Ryan Merkley. The crunching blow that sent Merkley to the San Jose dressing room led directly to the Canucks first goal.
The physicality and the chippy play in the first period was a true indication of the Vancouver’s desire and investment.