The Vancouver Canucks lost in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 4-3 on Sunday night. The Canucks had been ahead during the game 2-0, but couldn’t hold the lead. For the Jets, it was a two-game sweep of the up-and-down Canucks. The Jets shut out the Canucks 2-0 on Friday when goalie Thatcher Demko was on the wrong end of a shutout.
The weekend would have been a complete loss except for the fortunate play of Elias Pettersson, who pushed the game into overtime by scoring a goal with only 38 seconds left in the third period. Still, gaining only one point of a possible four isn’t good enough for the Canucks if they mean to claw their way into the postseason.
In this edition of Canucks’ News & Rumours, I’ll comment on some of the game’s results as well as the play of Cancuks’ players. Simply stated, the team hasn’t lived up to most fans’ expectations and their game simply hasn’t come together yet. Can the team turn things around?
Item One: Can Elias Pettersson Begin to Heat Up?
Pettersson’s goal came during an extended six-on-four power-play after an inadvertent delay of game penalty when Winnipeg’s defenseman Josh Morrissey sent the puck flying over the glass. The Canucks pulled goalie Braden Holtby with just under two minutes to go in the game – then Pettersson scored. The team was fortunate.
Sadly for Vancouver, the joy of knotting the game up with about 30 seconds left was short-lived – almost exactly a minute in actual game time. New Jets’ center Pierre-Luc Dubois scored about 30 seconds into overtime to secure the Jets’ victory.
Pettersson was frustrated after the game suggesting that his team had to “be more crisp with the puck … I mean, we had the game in our hands but we kind of let it go.”
Pettersson was also self-critical when he noted that “I was trying to make some plays, I was losing too many puck battles.” Still, it was Pettersson’s play that helped his team gain a point in the standings. He scored two goals in the loss; but, without his play, the Canucks would have likely been out of the game much earlier.
Is there a chance Pettersson’s good game will help light his fire? These were his first goals since Feb. 8. and it was also his first multiple-goal game of the year. Pettersson’s now sitting at seven goals and nine assists (for a total of 16 points) in 22 games this season.
During the 2020-21 season, Canucks’ fans just haven’t seen the young Swede play the kind of game they’ve come to expect. The success of the Canucks might hinge on Pettersson’s ability to shift gears and return to the kind of production fans have now – for right or wrong – come to expect.
Pettersson remains a quality producer, but he’s certainly off the scoring pace we’ve come to expect during his first two seasons with the team. Perhaps it’s not fair to expect more, but those expectations seem to exist. There are probably few Canucks’ fans who doubt that he’s capable of doing better than he has so far this season.
Although this game ended in an overtime loss, might Pettersson leverage what was his best game of the season into a forward shift to his momentum?
Item Two: Canucks’ Brock Boeser Scores an Assist
Surprisingly, Brock Boeser didn’t score a goal during the game. However, he did help set up Pettersson’s first goal of the game to give the Canucks a 2-0 first-period lead. Sadly for the team, that lead didn’t last.
Boeser now has 12 goals and 10 assists (for 22 points) in 22 games this season. If he’s able to maintain a point-a-game pace this season, it would be the first time he’s done that in his career. He certainly beginning to show what he’s capable of.
It’s too bad for the team that the two youngsters – Pettersson and Boeser – are not going at the same time. That’s obviously one reason the Canucks haven’t been the team we expected this season.
Item Three: J.T. Miller Adds Two Assists During the Game
J.T. Miller scored two assists during the game. Both were secondary assists on Pettersson’s two goals. The 27-year-old Miller, who was the team’s leading scorer last season, now has four goals and 14 assists (for 18 points) in 19 games for the 2020-21 season. Half of his 18 points have come with his team with the man advantage, and the other half obviously when his team has played five-on-five hockey.
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Item Four: Quinn Hughes Gains a Power-Play Assist
Quinn Hughes was credited with the primary assist on Pettersson’s game-tying power-play goal late in the third period. The 21-year-old emerging star is scoring points at a fast pace, and he’s currently has two goals and 19 assists (for 21 points) in the 22 games he’s played this season. Of his 19 assists, 11 have come on the power play.
What’s Next with the Canucks?
The high-flying Edmonton Oilers come into Vancouver on Tuesday night. So far this season, the Oilers have a 12-8-0 record, which is almost the opposite of the Canucks 8-12-2 record. During the Oilers’ last game, superstar Connor McDavid scored a natural hat trick as the Oilers took it to their Alberta rivals the Calgary Flames by a score of 7-1. In doing so, the Oilers absolutely overwhelmed former-Canucks’ goalie Jacob Markstrom.
It could be an interesting game between the two teams, especially if both Boeser and Pettersson can get going at the same time. I look for a high-scoring game. The Oilers certainly have been on a nice little run lately and, as a result, have moved into second place in the North Division of the NHL.