Recap: Depleted Canucks Dominated by Penguins

In two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, the Vancouver Canucks lost 7-0. If it wasn’t for Ryan Miller, the Canucks might have lost this game 7-0.

Miller was the best player of the game, making 45 saves in the contest. He single-handedly kept the Canucks in it by constantly stoning the Penguins. They weren’t able to beat Miller until late in the second period. The line of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Conor Sheary caused chaos for the Canucks all night long.

Give credit to Matt Murray as well, who shut out the Canucks in both games versus Vancouver this season. He didn’t have to make too many incredible saves, but he was solid when he had to be.

The Canucks were already missing eight regulars heading into this game. That was before Chris Tanev and Markus Granlund were pulled out of the game at the last minute due to food poisoning. AHL call-ups Joe LaBate and Alex Grenier made it into the lineup, while Alex Biega played his second game as a forward.

Michael Chaput had one of his best games as a Canuck against the Penguins on Saturday night. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re looking for moral victories, Michael Chaput and Joseph Cramarossa had solid games for the Canucks. Chaput looked comfortable during some shifts with the Sedins, and he played with confidence. Cramarossa threw the body around while getting one glorious chance to score.

Still, these are the moral victories the Canucks have to settle for as they continue to spiral down the standings.

First Period

Typical low-event Canucks hockey went by the wayside early on. There were tons of chances at both ends, but both goalies were able to keep the game scoreless. Grenier was gifted a spot with the Sedins with Granlund out of the lineup, but it was Chaput who made himself noticeable on the top line.

After a little give-and-go, Daniel Sedin threw the puck towards the net, and Chaput tipped it past Murray. However, the goal was waved off since Chaput had his foot impeding Murray’s left pad. On his next shift out there, he nearly scored again when he tipped a Philip Larsen on net.

Evgeni Malkin should have made this game 1-0, but his tipped shot went just wide even though he had an open net. Cramarossa also had a golden opportunity that just trickled wide.

The Penguins sure looked like the tired team early on, but they had a flurry of chances in the last few minutes of the period. Crosby also missed a golden opportunity from the side of the net, the same side of the net from which Malkin missed.

Second Period

There wasn’t much time for blinking through the first half of the second period. Both teams raced up and down the ice while the referees had a six-minute stretch where they didn’t touch their whistles.

Pittsburgh eventually started to pull away, as they absolutely peppered Miller with chance after chance. Crosby drew two penalties in the period with his speed. On the second drawn penalty, the Penguins skated laps around the Canucks in their own end for more than a minute. The whistle didn’t blow until Miller robbed Sheary’s cross ice one-timer.

On that power play, the Pens continued to overwhelm the Canucks. For the third time in the game, Phil Kessel couldn’t bury the puck into a wide open net with Miller pretzeled on his stomach, lying in the crease.

You knew that the Pens had to score eventually. Ian Cole fired a wrist shot past a screened Miller to finally give Pittsburgh a well-deserved lead. Miller went into the intermission having stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Third Period

The Canucks once again had a disallowed goal on an early third-period power play. Sven Baertschi batted the puck into the net with a high stick, allowing the refs to make a pretty easy decision. After the power play, Murray robbed Henrik Sedin with his glove to make his best save of the game.

Still, this game was all about Miller, as has been most of the Canucks’ season. With the Canucks “pressing” for the extra goal, the Penguins got a couple of odd man rushes. Crosby was stopped by Miller on a two-on-one. Afterwards, he stoned Sheary on a breakaway.

The Pens were able to get one more goal past Miller. Sheary made a great pass to Guentzel that fooled Miller. Guentzel buried the feed over a crouched Miller. Sheary continued his strong night by burying an empty net goal to seal the victory for Pittsburgh.

Scoring Summary


No scoring.


Ian Cole (5) assisted by Tom Kuhnhackl (6) and Scott Wilson (16)


Jake Guentzel (10) assisted by Conor Sheary (22) and Sidney Crosby (37)

Conor Sheary (19) assisted by Jake Guentzel (9) and Sidney Crosby (38)

THW Three Stars

1. Ryan Miller (45 saves)

2. Sidney Crosby (2 assists, 9 shots)

3. Matt Murray (27 saves, shutout)

Next Up

Pittsburgh Penguins at Calgary Flames

Monday, March 13, Scotiabank Saddledome, 9:00 p.m. EST

Broadcast Channels: SNW, ROOT

2016-17 Season Series:

Boston Bruins at Vancouver Canucks

Monday, March 13, Rogers Arena, 7:00 p.m. PST

Broadcast Channels:

2016-17 Season Series: Bruins lead 1-0