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Canucks Back to Winning Ways with Road Victory Over Capitals

Photo by Rusty Barton

Canucks Back to Winning Ways with Road Victory Over Capitals

The Vancouver Canucks have seen a wild 2o21-22 season thus far. From a slow start to the firing of both head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning, to the hiring of replacement Bruce Boudreau and the team’s subsequent seven-game winning streak to follow, it has been a rollercoaster of emotion in Canuck-land.

Since Boudreau took over for Green on December 6, Vancouver has found a new style of attack. The team won its first seven games, before dropping a 2-1 shootout loss to Los Angeles on the penultimate day of the year. The Canucks then got a 5-2 win in Seattle, improving their record to 8-0-1 in their first nine games under Boudreau.

It was at that point that COVID postponements clashed with the team’s hot run. Having home dates with the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators delayed due to Canadian large venue attendance restrictions, the Canucks ended up having 10 days off before heading out on a road trip through the South.

Things did not go well in Florida, with the home team picking up a 5-2 win on Tuesday. In moving to Tampa Bay, Vancouver enjoyed the sun, but the result was similar to that of their other sunbelt loss. The team then just managed one goal in a 4-1 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, slipping into their first three-game losing streak since a four-game skid in mid-November.

The concern was real heading into Sunday’s slate with Washington, as the three-game mini streak had the team spiralling back down to seventh place in the Pacific Division. With Edmonton also sputtering, every point gained or lost will be at a premium.

“I think we deserved better in some of the games,” forward Elias Pettersson said of his team’s recent struggles. “It was like we just have to stay the course. We’ve been playing good hockey. … I think we just came into this game with the right mindset: keep on working, keep playing the game.”

Things did not start well for Vancouver on Sunday, as Alexander Ovechkin launched his 26th of the season past Thatcher Demko on a first period power play, but it was all Canucks after that.

Pettersson got himself off the schneid, scoring his first and second goals over a span of eight games, before Bo Horvat and JT Miller added solo strikes. Tom Wilson responded for the Capitals, but it was too little, too late for Washington, as Vancouver took its first ‘W’ since January 1.

“I know what I’m capable of. Of course, there’s been a very slow start for me,” he said post-game. “But it’s a good win for us today, and I’m very happy with my two goals today.”

For the Swedish forward, it was just his seventh and eighth goals of the season and his first two points in five contests. He is now up to 19 total points on the year, producing at just a 0.5 points-per-game pace. His production has dropped off significantly this season, but the 23-year-old is poised to get back on track.

“He’s a confident player,” coach Boudreau said. “But it’s not easy to keep your confidence when every day the media wants to talk about you and you’re seeing it on TV, you’re hearing about it on the streets. When you’re a really good offensive player like Petey is, you think about it almost all the time. So to stay with it and to keep going at it is a tough thing. But he’s been able to block the noise out and keep working at it.”

The Canucks will need to keep working at it as well, as things really don’t get any easier for Vancouver in the coming days. The team’s lengthy five-game heater sees its conclusion on Tuesday with a test against the 24-12-3 Predators in Nashville. According to the coach, another win will go a long way.

“The confidence will definitely be brewing,” Boudreau said. “We couldn’t wait to get back in front of our fans. This is nine games on the road in a row (since Dec. 14). It’s not an easy stretch, and to stay at .500 or hopefully be above .500 on that, it keeps our nose above water… It would be a great way to end the trip. You wouldn’t even remember the first three games.”

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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