The Vancouver Canucks won their third straight game with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on home ice when rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes scored a power-play goal halfway through the third period. The team was behind 2-1 starting the period, but a three-goal rally secured the Canucks’ victory.
Tyler Motte opened the scoring; Bo Horvat scored a contested goal that was reviewed; and, seldom-used but suddenly-important Loui Eriksson (with Josh Leivo’s injury) also scored.
The win gave the Canucks a 19-15-4 record and slid them into 10th place in the Western Conference, two points back of the Oilers (20-16-4). The Canucks have two games in hand. In this post, I want to help Canucks’ fans keep up-to-date with team news and rumors as the team heads into a Christmas break.
Item One: Jacob Markstrom Is Strong in Net
Jacob Markstrom got his third straight win, letting in only two goals on 29 shots in the 4-2 victory. The big Swede’s record improved to 12-11-3 with a 2.66 GAA and a .917 save percentage. During the time Thatcher Demko was out with a concussion (he’s now back), Markstrom made eight straight starts.
That steak will stop with Demko’s return and the team’s holiday break. Demko will likely start one of the upcoming back-to-back weekend games against the Los Angeles Kings at home on Saturday or the Calgary Flames on the road on Sunday.
Markstrom noted, “I think our team game today was really good, one of the better 60-minute performances we had.”
Item Two: What, Chris Tanev Scored Again?
Chris Tanev is on a scoring tear – for him. He had an assist in the 4-2 win. Although his streak is modest for many NHL players, this three-game point streak is rare. In fact, Tanev has only missed the score sheet once in his last six games. His 12 points in 38 games this season match his entire total last season.
Not that Tanev is on many hockey fantasy teams because he’s never had more than 20 points in a season, but this defense-first player might challenge his career-best scoring total this season. More to his game, he’s blocked 88 shots and picked up 12 PIM.
Item Three: Welcome Back Alexander Edler
Alexander Edler scored an assist in his return from an upper-body injury. He skated almost 20 minutes (19:47) in the game, although he’d averaged 23.38 minutes before facing the Oilers. Edler now has 16 points in 28 games this season.
Item Four: Brock Boeser Is Having a Hot December
Brock Boeser has had a December to remember. His power-play assist helped him retain his strong scoring pace of three goals and nine assists in 11 December games. He’s also been a demon on the power play and the assist against the Oilers was his 14th power-play point of the season.
The 22-year-old Boeser hasn’t quite hit that point-a-game pace, but he’s close with 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 38 games.
Item Five: J.T. Miller Has Another Power-Play Point
In a recent post, I noted that almost every post I’ve written about the Canucks contains a note about J.T. Miller’s scoring success. Well, he scored another power-play assist on Hughes’ game-winning goal and now has four points in his last three games and 35 points (also 15 points on the Canucks’ highly-effective power play) in 38 games this season. He’s on pace for a career season (he’s never had a 60-point season) and is close to a point-a-game pace.
Item Six: Bo Horvat Scores the Game-Tying Goal
Horvat’s scoring has slowed a bit, but he scored his 10th goal of the season to tie the game in the third period. The 24-year-old captain has only four points in his last eight games, but has 28 points in 38 games for the season. Scoring or not, Horvat is valuable as the team’s top-line center.
Item Seven: Tanner Pearson Continues His Comeback Season
Tanner Pearson had two assists, both in the third period, to aid the Canucks victory. First, he helped with Horvat’s game-tying goal and then set up Eriksson’s empty-net goal. Pearson, who came to the Canucks last season in a scoring funk, now has 24 points in 38 games and needs only three points to match his entire 2018-19 output. He’ll likely, should he continue to score at this rate, reach 40 points with a chance at 50 points by season’s end.
Item Eight: Loui Eriksson Scores an Empty-Netter
After trying like crazy to trade Eriksson in the offseason, he’s still on the team and has become more important after Leivo’s injury. He scored an empty-net goal in the game and will become at least a temporary fixture on the top line until Leivo returns.
Eriksson’s goal was only his second of the season, but he has a chance to contribute, and I, for one, hope he seizes it. In this game, he recorded his highest season’s ice time (16:46) and, for a change, he’ll get more time on the ice than in the press box. Is there any chance he can reprise his scoring prowess? It’s hard to imagine that he scored more than 70 points three seasons in a row with the Dallas Stars and, the season before he came to the Canucks, he scored 63 points with the Boston Bruins.
Item Nine: Is Tyler Motte Becoming a Scorer?
Although goal scoring is not his forte, Motte opened the Canucks’ scoring with an unassisted goal. He has only two points on the season, but he always racks up huge hit totals (44 this season in only 11 games). Motte’s physical presence is his game, but scoring the odd goal is the icing on the cake.
Item Ten: Quinn Hughes Continues His Calder-Worthy Season
Hughes power-play goal was his third goal of the season and the game-winner. The 20-year-old rookie defenseman has now scored 27 points (including 15 power-play points) in 37 games. As I note, Hughes’ play makes him at least a nominee for the Calder.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
The Canucks’ win was the team’s first three-game winning streak since October when it won four in a row. It was also the team’s last game this season against the Oilers, and the series ended tied at two games apiece.
Related: Canucks’ Virtanen Turning a Corner
One interesting note was that hard-working defenseman Jordie Benn had the night off with Edler’s return. It was his first night off with the Canucks. It was good to see Demko back from his concussion, especially because concussions can be career-ending conditions.
It must feel good going into the Christmas break with a three-game winning streak. The Canucks are doing better than most hockey commentators predicted, and it’ll be interesting to see if the team can keep up its success.