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Playoff Dreams Over, Flames Handle Vancouver Canucks 6-3

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Vancouver Canucks, Quinn Hughes
Quinn Hughes scores to put the Vancouver Canucks on the board against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

Calgary Flames 6, Vancouver Canucks 3

The valiant late season effort by the Vancouver Canucks to make up for their very poor start to the campaign came to an end with a hard fought 6-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. The score was misleading.

Historically, this was not a situation in which a team does well — their playoff dreams gutted two nights earlier in Minnesota, trying to come back in their next game in a difficult location, trying to prolong hopes that were hanging by a thread. That described the Vancouver Canucks situation to a T, but they still managed to fight back from a 2-0 deficit to make it a game.

Entering Action …

You’re aware already, but just to recap, these are the men who have played for the Vancouver Canucks this season who were unavailable for this must-win-to-keep-a-playoff-strand-alive game due to injury: Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson, Tucker Poolman, Nils Höglander, and Jaroslav Halak.

Special Teams

Staying out of the box is an urgent factor in a match like this one, so we monitor this all-important element throughout, if and when those penalties are taken.

So often it’s the difference.

No infractions in the first period.

Will Lockwood took the Vancouver Canucks first penalty at 2:07 of the 2nd period for high sticking Elias Lindholm off a D-zone face-off and it would be Lindholm making the Canucks pay with this 40th goal of the season. With a Canucks let down, the Flames scored at even strength 16-seconds later.

So indeed, special teams made the difference. The game turned. There were no more penalties in the second period.

In the third period, Mikael Backlund took a cross checking penalty at 7:07 and the Vancouver Canucks saw their only power play. They had two good chances but on the best opportunity Conor Garland’s stick shattered.

Calgary would get their second chance at 9:58 of the period when Brad Richardson went off for tripping. The Flames failed as the Canucks penalty kill dominated.

Goal Scorers

2nd Period 1-0 Calgary – Elias Lindholm (40) – Johnny Gaudreau, Noah Hanifin (2:44) Power Play

((– Alone in the slot near the RW circle with time, Lindholm went up under the bar glove-side.))

2nd Period 2-0 Calgary – Dillon Dube (15) – Calle Jarnkrok, Chris Tanev (3:00) Even Strength

((– From the slot on the opposite side with a screen, Dube ripped one glove side.))

2nd Period 2-1 Vancouver – Quinn Hughes (7) – Vasily Podkolzin, JT Miller (18:46) Even Strength

((– Short side shelfie alone in front for “Huggy” after a tenacious Vancouver Canucks forecheck.))

3rd Period 2-2 Vancouver – Conor Garland (18) – Tyler Myers, JT Miller (5:36)

((– Garland while moving past the far post, reached back and batted in a high speed pass that was two feet off the ice.))

3rd Period 3-2 Calgary – Brett Ritchie (3) – Chris Tanev, Trevor Lewis (5:50) Even Strength

((– A point shot hit Ritchie’s skate in the LW circle and redirected into the net past Demko. No chance.))

3rd Period 4-2 Calgary – Dillon Dube (16) – Elias Lindholm (13:33) Even Strength

((– Off a neutral zone turnover the Flames capitalized on a 2-on-1 as Dube kept it and when shelfie on a backhander.))

3rd Period 5-2 Calgary – Nikita Zadorov (4) – Mikael Backlund (13:45) Even Strength

((– A shot from the left wing boards hit Demko, bounced off D-man Tyler Myers, and then trickled through the goalie’s legs.))

3rd Period 5-3 – Vancouver – Elias Pettersson (32) Quinn Hughes (17:35) Even Strength

((– Petey simply ripped a shot from the top of the LW circle that went stick-side up under the bar.))

3rd Period 6-3 Calgary – Johnny Gaudreau (39) Matthew Tkachuk, Chris Tanev (18:31) Even Strength – Empty Netter

((– Johnny Hockey buries an empty-netter.))

Playoff Scenario

With a Vancouver Canucks loss, their playoff hopes would end Saturday night if the Dallas Stars were victorious. They were. The Stars took care of business a little earlier in the evening with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the visiting Seattle Kraken.

A loss by the Canucks meant the Pacific Division’s 3rd place LA Kings would remain out of reach and their game result became irrelevant.

Simmer’s Canucks 3 Stars:

3) JT Miller – Could have been Hughes but we’ll give it to the man with two assists. 

2) Conor Garland – He fought the hardest and had a goal and clearly created the most chances.

1) Thatcher Demko – As had been the case for stretches this season, Demko kept his team in the game and gave them a chance to win.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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