The Vancouver Canucks started slowly Tuesday, but poured it on when they had to, winning their third consecutive game.
Jacob Markstrom earned his first NHL shutout and a defenceman led the way offensively at Rogers Arena.
Here is what we learned:
The Canucks defence can score
When a Canucks’ defencemen looks like Brock Boeser you tend to notice.
Heck, when a Canucks’ defenceman scores a goal, it’s generally worth a framed photo hung up in your basement. It hasn’t happened often in the past few season.
Take this one. The Canucks’ blue-line had five goals. Tuesday was the team’s 28th game.
Now, you can make it six goals. And you thank Derrick Pouliot, who didn’t score by a fluke. Instead, he managed a real goal-scorer’s goal. He cut across the slot. He got the goalie moving with him. And then he shot across his body, tucking the puck into the net and making it look easy.
Not unlike Boeser this year.Derrick Pouliot is congratulated by teammates after scoring his goal. Jeff Vinnick / NHLI via Getty Images
That’s funny, because offensively the Canucks’ defence hasn’t made anything look easy in years.
Pouliot would go on to add two assists for a three-point night, the first of his career.
Remember when people were complaining the Canucks traded a fourth-round pick to get him? Yeah, no more.
The Canucks continue to ride Markstrom as their No. 1
Against the Hurricanes, Markstrom got into his 20th game. He earned this one. And so much more.
For the first time in his career, Markstrom got himself a shutout. It took him 127 games to do it. But hey, who’s counting?
He carried the Canucks to a win Saturday against Toronto. Tuesday, he picked up where he had left off.Carolina Hurricanes left wing Joakim Nordstrom knocks down Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom. JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS
In the first period, the Canucks were outshot 12-3 and nearly run out of their own building. They needed great goaltending and they got it.
But Markstrom’s two best stops came in the second period. He calmly stoned Derek Ryan with a left pad save as Ryan swept right by Troy Stecher.
Then, he made his show-stopper.
A giveaway left Justin Williams taking target practice about 15 feet away. He sniped a shot destined for the top corner before Markstrom shot out his glove to get a piece of it.
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Difficult lineup decision loom and it won’t be Pouliot
With Derek Dorsett gone, it feels like Erik Gudbranson’s role on the team is expanded and more important.
The Canucks are not exactly oozing size. In fact, you could make the case Markstrom was the toughest player they had in the lineup Tuesday.
So when Gudbranson is healthy, he’s playing. And that means someone unexpected is likely coming out for him. Because it’s going to be just about impossible to pull Pouliot out of this group.
Interestingly, he’s been leading the Canucks’ blue-line in average even-strength ice time since mid-November.
But if not Pouliot then whom?
Some will say Ben Hutton, but he’s 24 years old. Sure, he hasn’t scored but generally he’s had a positive impact when he’s been in the lineup and not been on a pairing with Gudbranson.
Stecher is the future. Chris Tanev and Alex Edler are the two best.
That could lead to Michael Del Zotto, whose ice time is trending downward. But he was wearing an “A” Tuesday.
That’s not the only hard choice coming up
Nikolay Goldobin has been sound defensively, quietly under the radar for a few games.
In Tuesday’s third period, he came up with his first splash play of the season for the Canucks.
Goldobin made a slick move to steal some open ice, creating time for a nice wrister. But he hit the post. That was fine because he jumped on his own rebound and scored his first goal of the season for the Canucks.Hurricanes defenceman Justin Faulk looks on as Nikolay Goldobin scores his first goal of the season. JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Brandon Sutter could be back within a week. The easy decision would be to pull Goldobin out of the lineup. But if he’s scoring and playing well defensively why would a team, still trying to get younger, bury him in Utica, N. Y.?
Dorsett provides details into the injury that ended career
Things could still be raw and emotional when Dorsett meets with the Vancouver media Wednesday to address his retirement and the injury that caused it.
Dorsett was forced out of the game he loves because of a recurrence of similar issues that led to last year’s neck-fusion surgery.
A letter from him was posted on the website Canucks.com and in it he poured his heart and soul, re-tracing his career steps.
In it, he provided some needed details about the actual injury:
“First we looked at where the fusion was, the C5-6 area of the spine. It was still solid, the plate and screws were good. That was important.
“The C4-5 above the fusion had a small bulge, so we went back to see how it looked before surgery. It was worse, not terribly worse, but it had progressed more than we thought. Below the fusion, the C6-7 had something bigger. That was the main issue.”
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Vancouver Canucks
7 p.m., Rogers Arena, SNEP, SNET 650 AM
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