Well, the Vancouver Canucks are now the only undefeated team in the league!
I know, I know. We’re all still waiting for the bottom to fall out, the chickens come home to roost or the other shoe to drop. The last time the Canucks started a season with 4 consecutive wins was in 1992. Pavel Bure was playing his second season and despite Ben Hutton’s moves on that preseason goal against Phoenix, I don’t see him putting up 60 goals in his second year like Bure did.
The Canucks are winning games with a strong defensive system and forwards are committed to back checking. Aint it crazy? Our defence and goaltending actually looks good when we aren’t giving out odd man rushes left, right and centre!
Going into this game, the biggest question wasn’t just about winning, It was if the home team would finally score a goal before the opposition. While it may have taken half the game, we eventually got an answer.
The Canucks got off to a great start, keeping Buffalo hemmed in their own zone until Jacob Markstrom faced his first shot from Brian Gionta on the rush (his first of 27 saves tonight).
The 4th line is looking dangerous again and Brendan Gaunce is reading the play well when forechecking. I’m not sure if it’s the coaching or line-mates, but Gaunce is continuing to develop well and I’m all for the slow and steady approach if it keeps trending in the right direction.
Sutter and Hansen continue to make nice plays all around the net. This line is constantly creating chances to score and excellent at using their speed to create odd man rushes and take advantage of turnovers.
I still really liked the look of Larsen’s shot and we saw it a few more times in the first period. With the Sedin’s feeding him the puck, I can’t imagine he stay goalless for long.
In addition to creating offence, Sutter and Hansen have also impressed on the penalty kill. Even when they don’t score, they still create their own chances like the 3 on 1 opportunity near the end of the opening frame. The Vancouver Canucks 91.7 PK% is 9th best in the league and these two have had a lot to do with that.
In the second period, we saw a little but of line juggling from Willie Desjardins. Sven Baertschi and Alex Burrows switched spots on the third and fourth lines to start the period but were back to their original lines before the 10 minute mark. Later on, we saw a rare sight when Daniel Sedin was moved to Horvat’s line with Skille and Sven Baertschi spent some time on the top line with Henrik Sedin and Loui Eriksson.
Buffalo were in control of face-offs near the halfway mark of the game, leading 15 to 9 in the first 25 minutes. Going into this game, the Buffalo Sabres were 4th in the NHL with a win percentage of 56%.
With 8:50 left in the second period, Brandon Sutter took advantage of a bad line change by the Sabrer, rushed into the Buffalo zone with room and fired a shot from the middle of the circle. Robin Lehner may have got a piece of it, but Jannik Hansen was there to tuck in the rebound and get the Canucks their first lead of the season. It was only fitting that it was his first goal of the season and 100th of his career. This line has been firing on all cylinders so far and it’s great see them rewarded for it.
Markstrom continued his solid play in the second period. He made a number of strong saves against Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo, who were buzzing the net all night. Buffalo turned up the intensity after Hansen’s goal in the middle frame and would end up outshooting the Canucks 27 to 18.
Later in the period Johan Larsson took a run at Jacob Markstrom but after a few tense moments, Markstrom was back up and in the game.
When mom yelled at you in the morning and you take it out on Markstrom pic.twitter.com/gZZuMy0CUM— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) October 21, 2016
Thankfully, the Canucks kept up their steady play and finished the period leading 1-0.
In the third period, Derek Dorsett drew an interference call when Dmitry Kulikov sent him to the ice after chipping the puck past him. A minute into the powerplay, the Canucks broke another drought with Daniel Sedin scoring the first power play goal of the year after a great pass from Loui Eriksson. It was great, heads up play to make the quick pass out to Daniel instead of trying to force the puck through.
Alex Edler made a great play on the goal line to keep the puck out of the net after Ryan O’Reilly got the puck around Jacob Markstrom. This would end being a huge play in the long run.
With 8:37 left in the game, Buffalo got their first goal after Nicolas Deslauriers crashed the net and the puck took a number of unlucky bounces to end up in the net. While it wasn’t originally ruled a goal by the officials on the ice, the crew in Toronto had them change their tune.
This would be the last goal scored in this game and Jacob Markstrom would go on to lead the Canucks to their first win in regulation time this season. It’s been a wild wide so far and I for one, am loving every minute of it!
Up next, the Vancouver Canucks hit the road and play the Los Angeles Kings who are coming of their first win of the season over the Dallas Stars.