A slow start and dumb luck saw the Vancouver Canucks down 2-0 in the first period of last night’s game at Rogers Arena, but a strong third period effort not only got them to even things up, but they were able to take the lead thanks to two goals from the Captain. Sadly, the Canucks Achilles Heel let them down again, as Evgeny Kuznetsov got his third of the game on a late Caps PP to send it to OT, before Lars Eller sealed it, making amends for the penalty he took earlier in the third that led to the tying goal.
It was a disappointing effort through forty minutes, but the way they took over in the third was pretty impressive. Still, they can’t have more games like this if they hope to catch Dallas, Nashville and Vegas and secure a playoff spot. They certainly can’t play like this tomorrow night, because the Lightning will eat them alive.
A point helps though, as they inch closer to the second Wild Card slot, but it puts a lot more pressure to get out of Sunday with a win as they play Tampa for the second and final time this season. The Lightning are in Edmonton tonight, so the Canucks could have a bit of an advantage in a tired Tampa team coming in, and that also means Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely be the one they use to try and stop Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and roll with Brian Elliott instead. Elliott’s having an okay season, but has started just ten games so far, but putting up decent numbers as a backup with a 6-2-2 record.
While much of the Canucks efforts to get to the post-season has to be by their own hands, they will need some help, so we’ll take a look at games that affect their quest. Last night had a couple interesting ones, and we’ll start in Pittsburgh, as the Vegas Golden Knights were in town to visit the Penguins.
Jack Eichel and Alex Pietrangelo scored second period goals to tie things 2-2 after forty minutes, but Mark Friedman’s first career goal in the third would be the winner as the Penguins skated off with a 5-2 win. The Golden Knights have now lost three straight, and sit three points ahead of the Canucks, who have a game in hand. One thing that did happen last night was this garbage from Max Pacioretty on Kris Letang.
You really hate to see a guy with the concussion history like Letang get sucker punched like this, but it’s especially infuriating that it comes at the hands of one of the players who was responsible for one of those concussions.
Pacioretty’s been a cheap shot artist for a long time, but never seems to get called on it, which sucks. Karma may have taken care of it however as Pacioretty left in the third and did not return. No word on what type of injury he’s suffered, but he joins a growing list of Vegas players on the IR, including Robin Lehner, Mark Stone, and Alex Martinez. Next up for Vegas is the Columbus Blue Jackets, that game goes at 4pm Pacific time.
The other impactful game for the Canucks last night saw the Winnipeg Jets on Long Island to take on the New York Islanders. Josh Bailey scored twice as the Isles handed the Jets a 5-2 loss, keeping the Jets from gaining any ground on Vancouver.
Today there’s a number of games that we need to keep an eye on, starting off with a big daytime game in Nashville. The Predators play host to the St Louis Blues at 9:30 Pacific time, and we’re going to need St Louis to do us a solid and win this one in regulation. The Preds sit five points ahead of the Canucks in the first Wild Card slot at the moment.
At 4:00pm the Calgary Flames host the Detroit Red Wings, in another one we’d like to see end in regulation. The Canucks host the Flames next Saturday, so we’d appreciate them not adding to the twelve point lead they currently hold over Vancouver.
The Anaheim Ducks are just two back of the Canucks, and this afternoon they’re in New Jersey to take on the Devils. Both teams are 4-6-0 in their last ten, and the Ducks have lost two straight.
The late game is the Lightning and Oilers, and we’re definitely hoping to see the Lightning take them out in regulation after the Caps lost in OT to the Oilers the other night.