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19th of January 2018

Canada



Canucks 5 Blue Jackets 2: Discovering winning in Columbus, with luck

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There was nothing wrong with the Vancouver Canucks’ offence that some luck couldn’t fix on Friday.

The Canucks got a month’s worth of puck luck all in one period, riding a wave of good fortune to a 5-2 NHL win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This is what we learned:

Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom makes a save as teammate Ben Hutton, right, and Columbus Blue Jackets’ Boone Jenner look for the rebound during the second period.

Canucks get several gifts from hockey gods

The first Canucks goal went in after the puck was deflected multiple times.

Another one came from their stay-at-home defenceman. Another went off a Columbus blue-liner.

The second period was all good karma for the Canucks. They needed some. Off a wickedly bad run that had seen the Canucks win only two of the first 15 games Bo Horvat missed, the Canucks were in need of some good fortune.

The middle frame was their luckiest of the season. The Canucks had 12 shots. They scored on four of them.

And each of the goals, you could make the case, was a fluke.

It wasn’t just the goals scored, either. The Blue Jackets hit the post behind Jacob Markstrom four times.

Leading into this game, Vancouver head coach Travis Green said sometimes when a team wins it feels like it’s never going to lose again.

We don’t think that’s how the Canucks will be viewing it after beating Columbus, who one night earlier dropped a 3-1 decision to the Sabres in Buffalo.

They should, however, be feeling lucky, and it’s been a long, long time since they were feeling that.

Jake Virtanen checks Columbus Blue Jackets’ Seth Jones  in the first period.

A monster night for the trade deadline

The two likeliest candidates to be moved at the NHL trade deadline had huge games.

Thomas Vanek had two assists, both backhanders, while Erik Gudbranson did something he hadn’t done all year. He scored.

There’s been something different about Gudbranson lately. He’s been a much more physical player. He’s been chasing hits. And he’s been landing several of them in a big way.

He’s also doing a much better job mowing down traffic in front of the net. Maybe he’s playing to be traded.

Then again, he’s on an expiring deal and there used to be a sense he was seeking a new contract that would pay him $5-million-plus a season.

If he is going to get that payday, it’s now or never.

Vancouver Canucks players celebrate a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky in the second period.

Brendan Gaunce still hasn’t scored a regular goal

It’s almost hard to believe.

Brendan Gaunce has played 103 NHL games. He has now scored three goals. None of them conventional.

The first two of his career went off body parts. He finally scored with his stick Friday, but what a bizarre play it was.

Gaunce tried to put so much torque into his shot, the motion actually broke his stick. But it was probably the best thing that could have happened.

The mis-hit meant the puck never left the ice. It skimmed across the surface and under Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

The goalie seemed so shocked by the shot, he actually lifted his stick. He would have made the save off Gaunce’s shot had he kept his stick on the ice.

Markstrom beat for another soft goal

If he could stop giving up goals on what should be simple saves, Markstrom could be having a good season.

The curse of the soft goal haunted Markstrom yet again as the fiery Canucks netminder got beat by a long Seth Jones wrister.

Alex Edler did sweep into his line of vision just as the puck was being launched, but in the end it went right through Markstrom.

After, Markstrom did what he’s done so often this year — he shook it off and got better. The last few minutes of the game was probably peak Markstrom. He made several difficult saves and he’s now had three decent games in a row.

The way the Canucks’ goaltending has gone since mid-November, that’s probably reason enough for celebration.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky makes a save on the Canucks’ Nic Dowd in the third period.

Coach is open to suggestion

One day Green was asked why he hadn’t used Markus Granlund with the Sedins this season.

The trio enjoyed some success last season and it seemed to be something worth revisiting back in training camp.

Green explained he liked Granlund in a shutdown role and really liked him playing with Nic Dowd. Until, it seems, he didn’t.

Because at the next practice, he had Granlund with the Sedins.

Wait, what? And that’s exactly how the Sedin line looked to start Friday’s game.

The line was fine, but it’s interesting that it took until January for Green to take them for a test drive.

It seems Green didn’t like what he saw, because it didn’t take long for him to replace Granlund with Loui Eriksson with the Sedins.

jbotchford@postmedia.com

twitter.com/botchford

NEXT GAME

Sunday

Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild

5 p.m., Xcel Energy Centre, SNETP, SNET 650 AM

The Canucks are on a big eastern road swing and so are Jeff Paterson and Jason Botchford, so it’s time for another Pat-cast, powered by Eagle Ridge GM. This week, we ask: Will anything stop this Canucks free fall? And will the Canucks themselves keep it together? Listen here:

http://media.blubrry.com/theprovincesports/p/archive.org/download/jan_11_pat-cast/jan_11_pat-cast.mp3

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Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com

Town Talk: Reflections on a busy 2017 Read More




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