When you find yourself fighting for playoff positioning, you need to win the games you should win on paper. That was the case for the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night as they faced the Colorado Avalanche, who came into tonight’s game as the NHL’s worst team with just 28 points in 45 games.
They did just that, coming out of the Pepsi Center with a 3-2 win. Sven Baertschi was the hero of the night, scoring two goals, including the game-winner in the third period on the power play. Markus Granlund had the other goal on the night for the Canucks.
Playing away from Rogers Arena had not been kind to Markstrom (or the Canucks). Entering tonight’s game, Markstrom had a record of 3-7-1 on the road. But despite surrendering a two-goal lead, Markstrom hung on late and helped lead the Canucks back into a playoff spot.
Jakob Markstrom was tested early by Colorado as Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto both got good looks on net, but Markstrom was able to square up and make the saves. As you can tell from the screenshot, Vancouver’s defense was a bit out of place on one of the shots.
possible topic for the next time tryamkin advises biega pic.twitter.com/JdtRyc4XJd— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 26, 2017
Midway through the first period, Sven Baertschi got the Canucks on the board with a backhanded goal, sneaking the puck into the net past a crowd in front of the crease for his 12th of the season.
This was also part of a run where the Canucks came alive on offense. After the two sides started even in the shot department at five a piece, Vancouver registered 12 of the game’s next 14 shots on net.
Seven minutes into the period, Markus Granlund added to Vancouver’s lead with an unassisted wraparound. Granlund hustled in behind the net and when Nikita Zadorov misplayed the puck, Granlund scooped it up and put in in the net before Calvin Pickard even knew what happened.
Less than two minutes later, Nikita Tryamkin broke out on a rush with Loui Erikkson and nearly delivered a one-timer, but somehow, Pickard was able to keep it out of the net to prevent the Canucks from going up 3-0.
The shots kept on coming for the Canucks as midway through the second period, Vancouver had already put 27 shots on goal. They wouldn't finish the night on the rapid pace they were on, but they kept up the pressure all night.
Late in the 2nd period, the Avalanche cut Vancouver’s lead in half when a shot from Nikita Zadorov out near the blue line trickled in past Jacob Markstrom. Mikko Rantanen was there to finish the job, making it 2-1.
If you're the superstitious type, you can direct your complaints towards Jeff Patterson, who doomed Markstrom just moments before the goal. The Canucks noticed and they were none too pleased.
Just over six minutes into the third period, Matt Nieto took advantage of a turnover in Vancouver’s zone and beat Markstrom with a wrist shot to tie the game at 2-2 with 13:42 to play.
Chaput goes kaput with turnover and Nieto goes between Markstrom's arm and body and we suddenly have a game. 2-2. #Canucks— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) January 26, 2017
Midway through the third period, the Canucks got the opportunity they needed when Alex Burrows was slashed by Gabriel Landeskog, sending Vancouver to the power play. While on the advantage, Sven Baertschi struck again, this time scoring on a centering pass from Henrik Sedin to make it 3-2, which was all Vancouver would need to earn the win.
Sean’s 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Sven Baertschi - 2 goals
Sven Baertschi brought his A-game tonight, scoring twice, including the game-winner. Baertschi moved up from seventh to second on the team in scoring. His 13 goals are one behind Bo Horvat’s 14 for the team lead.
2nd Star: Canucks Offense - 41 shots
Who says an entire offense can't be a star? The Canucks pressured Calvin Prickard early and often tonight, delivering 41 shots on net. Vancouver came into tonight’s game averaging just 27 shots on net, so the barrage of opportunities went a long way.
3rd Star: Calvin Prickard - 38 saves, .927 save percentage
Poor Calvin Prickard. The dude gets tonight’s third star for facing 41 shots and only giving up three goals out of it. He made some really impressive saves tonight and if it wasn't for his efforts, this game would've been over before the final intermission.
Up Next for the Canucks:
The Canucks are right back at it tomorrow night when they head to the desert to take on the Arizona Coyotes. Like tonight, this will be another two points that the Canucks should be able to grab, if all goes according to plan. The Coyotes are the second-worst team in the NHL with 36 points. Puck drops at 6:00 PM PT.