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Canucks 5 Red Wings 1: Power play leads the way in rout of Detroit


At the end of this long season, there will be a few games that we’ll look back and say “that one was a must-win.”

Tuesday night’s 5-1 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings at Rogers Arena will definitely be one of those games for the Vancouver Canucks.

And they did it in impressive fashion.

Other than an ugly blip on the game’s first shift, the Canucks controlled just about every aspect of the game, which is the least you’d expect from a team with playoff ambitions. This group of Red Wings, outside of the likes of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, isn’t much to look at at the moment.

Yes, these Red Wings are a far cry from their glory days ancestors.

On the night, the Canucks skated faster, passed better, were more creative with the puck, took their chances and mostly kept the Red Wings to the outside.

Their power play dominated. So did the penalty kill.

Heck, even their fourth line dominated when they were on the ice.

“I like it,” Travis Green said of his team winning three nights in a row at home, each win in different fashion.

“You want to win and you’re not going to win the same way every night. Tonight didn’t feel like a 5-1 hockey game. I like how we just stuck with the game. We’ve talked about being a 60-minute team. We want to be a team that kind of plays the same way all the time. When we don’t have the puck, we want to look very similar in our work ethic, in our compete. I thought tonight was probably our best game.”

The Canucks now head out on the road with some swagger in their stride. They’ve got plenty to feel good about right now.

The Canucks got goals from Troy Stecher, Alex Edler, Elias Pettersson and two from J.T. Miller, while the Red Wings actually opened the scoring on a Larkin goal just 30 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Here’s what we learned…

Hand-eye for Petey

A puck bobbing in the air, near the net and near Pettersson?

Was there any doubt the Alien would whack the puck home for the game’s third goal?


Power play prowess

Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Canucks had 51 shot attempts over their previous four games on the power play. As far as rates go, they were actually fourth overall in the league for how frequently they were getting shots off.

Now, not every shot is made the same, but given how often the Canucks were shooting, a goal did seem somewhat inevitable.

The Canucks bagged two power-play goals in the second period: the first by Alex Edler, as he fired a seeing-eye wrist-shot from the top of the slot through a screen and Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier; the second on a tip at the top of the crease by Miller off another Edler point shot.

They scored another in the third and were feeling so confident and moving the puck so well that all five Canucks seemed to be standing with a 15-foot radius of the net. Miller took a pass from Pettersson and picked out an opening in the left side of the net to pick up his second tally of the game.


Take ’em however you can get ’em

Brock Boeser racked up a trio of secondary assists in the second period.

At the end of the season, no one will remember that.

What they may remember is what he achieved: it was the first time a Canuck recorded three assists in a period since Henrik Sedin on Feb. 18, 2012.

“I’m not Henrik but I’ll take it,” he said.


Power from the back

The Canucks already have six goals from the blue line this season. They managed just 27 last season, which was actually up from 21 the season prior.

Recall that getting offence from the defence is a key to success for the Canucks this season.

Any season, really.

Perfect PK

Speaking of defending, the Canucks have conceded just one goal on the penalty kill this year.

Button-hook Jake

Stecher’s first-period goal was all about quick feet and full extension.

After leading a rush in the Red Wings’ zone, Jake Virtanen was able to collect a loose return pass by stretching out and pulling a full 180 degree turn to sweep the puck across the slot to an on-rushing Stecher.

Perhaps a bit of luck on the play, but you know the saying about being good and lucky.

“I mishandled it a little bit,” Virtanen said post-game. “I saw Leivo on my back door and I was going to try and go on my back hand and throw it back door, but it went ahead of me. I had time to turn and pass it. We’ve been talking about our D getting up into the play … I knew the D was going to be coming up.”

What wasn’t lucky was Stecher’s shot, which was perfect: he fired the puck into the top left-hand corner of the net. Bernier had no chance.

Stecher said he was thrilled to beat the goalie clean.

“Last year I only got two and I never beat a goalie clean,” he said. “To beat a goalie clean, it felt really good. It’s been a while.”

“If you watch our structure this year, our forwards are getting up in the play and our D-men are skating up ice a lot faster to help out with zone time in the O-zone and that was my thought.”

He said he was actually anticipating there were would be a rebound.

“You read and react,” he said.


On a Larkin

The only real blemish on the night was the Canucks’ first shift. They got caught breaking out before they had the puck and the Red Wings’ Larkin found a seam as the home team scrambled to recover their defensive shape.

Mantha slipped Larkin the puck and the winger, who is off to a red-hot start, found himself all alone against Thatcher Demko.


Hughes on two

Quinn Hughes’ skating is already making defenders nervous. In a first period shift, the rookie blueliner picked up the puck on the left point, skated to his right, which meant he switched positions with Chris Tanev.

He left the puck behind for his veteran partner to pick up, but it all happened so quickly he drew two Red Wings defenders along with him.

His slick skating in the second period drew a penalty as he attempted to manoeuvre his way to the Red Wings’ net, as Mike Green clipped his feet out from under him.

Spotted

Jim Benning looked mighty pleased when walking past the press box — and that was during the first intermission. The way the second period went, one presumes his smile grew ever wider, wider than the Joker’s even.

His team is off to a very fine start.


NEXT GAME

Thursday

Vancouver Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues

5 p.m., Enterprise Center , TV: SNET1: SNET 650 AM


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