At the beginning of March, we highlighted this month-ending road trip as having the potential to be a make or break point for the Canucks and their playoff aspirations, and lo and behold, that’s what it’s turning out to be. But given their play heading into this four game Central Division swing, who they were playing and when, even the most optimistic of Canucks fans had to have feelings of dread about Vancouver’s chances. I love being wrong about this.
Following up an impressive three of four possible points in the Colorado/Minnesota back to back Wednesday and Thursday, the Canucks could hardly be blamed for mailing this one in, playing their third game in four nights on the road.
Asked Boudreau about the challenge of a 3rd game in 4 nights. The day off is always a quiet day, he said.— Patrick Johnston (@risingaction) March 26, 2022
Need to find energy the morning of game 3.
He's nervous: "You have to have a good morning skate to get them out of it. And our morning skate was pretty lethargic today."
Not a good sign, to be sure. Give them credit, while it wasn’t a fantastic period, the effort was there. What wasn’t there was scoring opportunities, as Dallas did a fantastic job of keeping the Canucks from getting shots in on Jake Oettinger. Still, they did manage to get nine through. It looked like it might not be their night as we had a little deja-vu from Thursday. After a clearing pass from Quinn Hughes was bobbled by Alex Chiasson, Jamie Benn got it to Jacob Peterson who backhanded it by Thatcher Demko.
One of the most crucial moments happened not long after, as Demko gave us a preview of how the rest of Dallas’ night would go.
Demko was incredible in 3rd period. But his breakaway save in 2nd off Glendenning at 1-0 might have been the most important of the night. Not sure #Canucks were coming back from 2-0 deficit— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 27, 2022
The Canucks struggled to get calls Thursday night in Minnesota, where the home team was lavished with them by comparison. It was looking as though it might be more of the same until Jani Hakanpaa with one of the oddest delayed calls of the year gave Vancouver a shot with the man advantage and naturally, it was Elias Pettersson who made them pay.
The Canucks were the better team in the second, and were a little unlucky to come out of that frame tied up at 1-1. That set the stage for the third period, and an important question:
Canucks playing 3 in 4 with minimal opportunities for rest and recovery— Patrick Johnston (@risingaction) March 27, 2022
Stars on their 5th game in 8 nights (with a road trip this week broken up by a single game at home)
How much energy is left for the third?
Pettersson’s goal in the second period set him up for a milestone on his next point, as he would become the first person from the 2017 draft to hit the 200 point mark. If you’re gonna collect a milestone, you wanna do it like this. What an absolutely filthy shot!
Absolutely perfect snipe from Elias Pettersson using Pavelski as a screen pic.twitter.com/u7jkg3YmIK— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) March 27, 2022
The Stars threw everything they had at the Canucks net in the final frame, but Thatcher Demko, with his mother in the stands watching, was having none of it. And he gave us what could end up being his biggest save of the season.
What an incredible save, and an incredible call by John Shorthouse. But we know Shorty and Cheech are the best, so that’s not a surprise at all.
Cheech and Shorty on a Saturday night broadcast pic.twitter.com/9mTtZqtNbp— Nucks Misconduct (@nucksmisconduct) March 26, 2022
Dallas pulled Oettinger but it was Bo Horvat, who scored in his fourth straight game, to put some icing on the that cake, and a few seconds later JT Miller with his 28th of the year put the cherry on top as the Canucks skated away with the 4-1 win and two valuable points. It moved them two points behind the Stars, who have three games in hand still, and helped them stay three behind Vegas, who picked up two points in that infuriating collapse by the Chicago Blackhawks, who entered the third period leading 3-0 and lost 5-4 in OT. On the ice or off it, the Blackhawks never do the right thing.
Up next for the Canucks are three massive games, each one being The Biggest Game Of The Season™, starting Monday in St Louis. They’ll head home to do battle with the Blues again on Wednesday, then get some well-deserved rest before a huge afternoon game hosting the Vegas Golden Knights.
Just a couple games today to keep an eye on for the Canucks, the first one has the Nashville Predators, currently holding down the top Wild Card slot, as they host the Philadelphia Flyers. Nashville is five points up on Vancouver and will use one of their two games in hand tonight. There’s a big match between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild, but the other game of note has the Winnipeg Jets at home to the Arizona Coyotes. The Jets are sitting one point back of the Canucks, and will use their game in hand in this one. We need Arizona and Philly to play the spoilers tonight and win in regulation.