The chance to win their third straight game tonight even had the coach mentioning playoffs today. But even the most optimistic Vancouver Canucks fan was doused with an ice bucket full of cold reality tonight. The Winnipeg Jets dominated after the first five minutes of the game, using a hard forechecking style to hem the Canucks into their own end and win 5-2. Worse, the Canucks were forced to play most of the game without Luca Sbisa and Markus Granlund, both lost to upper body injuries. Late in the game Alex Biega took a puck in the side of the head and did not return.
The game began with a noticeably loud crowd, including lots of Jets fans with their trademark "truth north" yell during the anthem.
Vancouver was awarded a power play one minute into the game. Unfortunately, the Canucks zone entry continues to be a clown show. Adam Lowey stripped Ben Hutton and was off to a shorthanded breakaway. He tried a 5 hole move on Jacob Markstrom, but Markstom made a great save. Four minutes into the game, Vancouver built a 6-1 shot advantage, with Lowry's shorthanded breakaway Winnipeg's only shot.
Who knew that would be the high point of the game for Vancouver?
Marko Dano scored on the Jets first rush. Tyler Myers centered the puck, and while Jacob Markstrom thought it was going to the other side of the zone, Marko Dano deflected it in from directly in front of the Vancouver net.
After the goal, the Canucks were on their heels and could not clear the zone. Matthieu Perreault had a good chance, Markstrom misplayed it with his glove, but the puck hit him nonetheless.
After the commercial time out, the Jets maintained a large territorial advantage over Vancouver. Sven Baertschi was part of a four player Canucks rush just before the 10 minute mark. He didn't score, but it was the first of many standout shifts. Jake Virtanen took a foray down the ice as a chance to lay out Adam Lowry with a decent hit.
Watching Virtanen take down 6"5 dudes never gets old: pic.twitter.com/GMbi7sKSND— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 15, 2016
Jets fans cheering hard tonight. Don't they realize draft position may be on the line?!— Rich Brown (@richbrownsports) March 15, 2016
Still, Winnipeg largely maintained pressure, their strong forecheck causing the Canucks to repeatedly turn the puck over. At the 6:30 mark, Markstrom made a great glove save on Paul Postma, who had room to tee his shot up.
With just under 5 left, Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund combined for another promising play in the Jets zone. Hopefully, that pair of former Abbotsford Heat can continue the chemistry they had in the AHL.
Period one, though, was all Jets, their pressure continuing to cause Vancouver lots of trouble.
When a puckwatching Canucks team failed to take Chris Thorburn, Tyler Myers' attempted clear went off Derek Dorsett's leg and in.
A promising start for Vancouver was derailed by a poor power play and their inability to do anything under heavy checking by the Jets.
With 2:30 gone in the period, Baertschi's line held the Jets in their own end for a good while. Sven had three good chances, but was not able to score. Henrik and Daniel Sedin followed that shift with some pressure of their own. Then, Derek Dorsett took an offensive zone hooking penalty, sending the Jets to the power play.
Henrik's slap shot from the high slot in the Jets' zone with 30 sec in the power play was the best scoring chance of the penalty. Marko Dano took a silly retaliation penalty in the offensive to end the Jets power play. Winnipeg had the best of the 4 on 4, with two solid chances.
At full strength, the play became very scrambly. Jets maintained pressure in Canucks zone while Sbisa was shaken up, unable to move his left arm after an Adam Lowry hit. None of the Canucks could get possession of or clear the puck, until finally Jacob Markstrom grabbed the puck in his crease with his bare hand.
Sbisa to the room at the end of that unbelievably horrible by shift by all..— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) March 15, 2016
As with the first period, though the Canucks came out well in the period, Winnipeg changed momentum and took over the game. The line of Alex Burmistrov -- Marko Dano -- Matthieu Perreault combined on a rush. Burmistrov scored as Hamhuis struggled with a bouncing puck, and Alex Grenier screened Markstrom by falling right in front of him. Though Grenier was on the ice for all three Jets goals, it was also his fourth game in four nights, and therefore one that's probably not fair to judge him on.
Down 3-0 at the end of the period, the Canucks night was done.
Canucks would be relying on different pairs and lines to deal with injuries tonight. They are 3-23-1 this season when trailing after two.
Less than three minutes in, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler combined on a 2-0, when Alex Biega fell at the Jets blue line and Hamhuis fell in the Canucks zone lunging for the streaking Jets players.
Biega falls, Hamhuis falls, Scheifele scores. 4-0— Rich Brown (@richbrownsports) March 15, 2016
Alex Grenier took an elbowing penalty 11 seconds later. Jets had some pressure, but didn't score.
Alex Burmistrov got a shot away after Alex Biega was hurt blocking a shot in the Canucks' zone and couldn't move. Marko Dano and Dan Hamhuis were tussling at the side of the net and the puck went in off of Dano. Jacob Markstrom's bad luck with deflections continued, in what must have been a frustrating night for him.
The Vancouver Canucks did get two garbage time goals to make the scoreboard look a tiny bit more respectable. Jared McCann got one deflection back, pinballing the puck off Julian Melchiori and bouncing it awkwardly past Michael Hutchinson, breaking the shutout bid.
Not your typical McCann style goal but a little puck luck was overdue after some of these Jets goals tonight. 5-1 game.— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) March 15, 2016
goals galore in #NHL tonight. Goalies must not be wearing the big gear tonight— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 15, 2016
With 5:28 left, Alex Biega took the puck off the side of his head while skating in front of the goal after his man, Adam Lowry. He left the game, bringing the Canucks down to four defensemen for the balance of the game.
Jake Virtanen scored in the last minute. Derek Dorsett forced Melchiori into rushing his pass, which was intercepted by Virtanen and shot in.
Another disappointing night for the Vancouver Canucks at home this year. But the Canucks can hardly expect better when they succumb so meekly to sustained pressure in their zone. They are back at it Wednesday against Colorado.
If you missed your chance to drive up the number of comments in the gamethread -- each comment meant $ for Canucks for Kids -- it's not too late to pledge on your own.
visitors now 21-10-4 at Rogers Arena this season. 46 of 70 points (.657 hockey)— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 15, 2016
#Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa has left arm in a sling after the game; big hit from Adam Lowry knocked him out of game in second period— Kevin Woodley (@KevinisInGoal) March 15, 2016
Willie says Tryamkin will play on Wed. That was the plan all along. #Canucks— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) March 15, 2016