What a comeback. Down by a score of 2-0 to the Detroit Red Wings going into the third period, the Vancouver Canucks came roaring back to record a 5-2 win over the Red Wings in Detroit. It was an especially great game for new captain Bo Horvat, who is from nearby London, Ontario. Because he was so close to home, he had lots of family in attendance.
How did he do, you ask? He scored his first-ever NHL hat trick in the third period.
Congratulations to the Canucks, who are playing like a force to be reckoned with and who have now won six of seven games after starting the season with two road losses. The team’s only blemish was a 1-0 shutout to the Devils in New Jersey. If Micheal Ferland ever begins to play like he can (he has only a single goal and a single assist in his nine games), the team should settle in nicely.
In this post, I want to keep Canucks fans up-to-date on news that is emerging from the team.
Item One: Horvat Nets Third-Period Hat Trick
To say that Horvat had a good game against the Red Wings is a bit of an understatement. Horvat scored three goals (in seven shots) in Tuesday’s 5-2 win. He also was a demon in the faceoff circle, winning 11 of 17 faceoffs (64.7 percent). As noted earlier, all his goals came in a wildly exciting third period – at least exciting for the Canucks.
Of Horvat’s three goals, two came on the power play as the Canucks came storming back from a 2-0 deficit. It was Horvat’s second milestone game in a row. Against the Red Wings, he scored his first NHL hat trick. Against the New York Rangers on Sunday, the 24-year-old center had his 100th career goal.
Horvat is hot. After not scoring a goal in his first five games, he’s had five goals in his last four. If he continues this pace, he might make 30 goals for the season. His best so far is 27 goals, which he scored last season.
About scoring the hat trick when so many of his family were in attendance, Horvat noted: “That was great, especially because I had so many friends and family in the crowd to see it.” He also admitted, “Obviously, it couldn’t have come in a bigger situation with us having to come back, so that was a lot of fun.”
Item Two: Ashton Sautner Sent Back to Comets
Although he was around the team for a while, 25-year-old depth defenseman Ashton Sautner didn’t suit up for the Canucks and was officially reassigned to the Utica Comets in the AHL. He traveled with the team because the team’s seventh defenseman Oscar Fantenberg was suffering from an unknown ailment. Obviously, he’s healed now and is ready to play. Although the illness wasn’t identified, I’m thinking it might have been the still-lingering effects of a concussion he had during preseason.
Speaking of illness, about the only Canucks player who remains on the mend is Antoine Roussel. He’s still recovering from ACL surgery and needs to be reassessed before a timetable can be set for his return to the line-up.
Item Three: Pettersson Is on a Scoring Streak
Elias Pettersson started slowly, but he’s beginning to heat up. Without a point in the team’s two losses to open the season, Pettersson now has two goals, eight assists, and 10 points in nine games. He’s starting to play like his old self. That’s good news for the team.
Item Four: Hughes Shows No Signs of Being a Rookie
Quinn Hughes simply looks as if he belongs. I am constantly amazed at his confidence with the puck. In the victory over the Red Wings, he had two assists (and now has three assists in the past two games). It’s his first time scoring in consecutive games in his young NHL career.
Although this Hughes (Quinn) is not considered as good a player as his younger brother Jack (the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft who now plays with the New Jersey Devils), Quinn has scored a goal with six points through the first nine outings. His brother Jack, for fans who care, has only a goal and an assist in eight games this season.
Quinn played two seasons of hockey at the University of Michigan, so playing in Detroit was less than an hour from his university home in Ann Arbor.
Item Five: Virtanen Finally Scores
To my eyes, Jake Virtanen has been playing better than the score sheet suggests. He was finally rewarded when he scored the game-winning goal for the Canucks on Tuesday. It was his first goal of the season and third point in nine games, which is about his average. Last season he had 25 points (15 goals) in 70 games – just over a point every third game. This season his three points in nine games is just that – a point every three games.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
The Washington Capitals, so far 7-2-2 this season, show up at Rogers Arena on Friday evening. The Canucks might be catching a break because the Capitals will be coming off a quick turn-around after playing the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night in Alberta’s capital city.
Jacob Markstrom has been on a roll. He’s only allowed two goals in each of his last five starts and is now 4-2-0 and sports a strong 2.16 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. With back-up goalie Thatcher Demko, they are leading the way for the Canucks’ recent surge. We’ll see how they do against the Capitals.