VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks played like "such a team" on Saturday and still beat Drew Doughty's Los Angeles Kings.
This was less a charge against the Kings than a reflection of Vancouver's goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom, who had his 100th victory in the NHL with 49 saves in the Canucks' 3-2 robbery.
Doughty, who seemed to be making fun of the Canucks when he said that the Kings should not lose 2-8 against such a team after a blowout in Vancouver on October 9, was booed every time he did the puck in his first touched game at the Rogers Arena.
But on a night when the kings defeated the Canucks 39: 16 and 51: 26 in the last two game periods, the mockery seemed to be as misguided as the brazen internal advertising for the pre-game competition like Los Angeles against "such a team". Doughty was on the ice when the PA spokesman said it.
The Canucks were such a team for most of the game, and only Markstrom prevented the Kings from advancing within four points ahead of Vancouver in the Pacific Division standings.
Instead, the Canucks reached a season high with their fourth win in a row and returned to the playoff position in the wildcard race of the Western Conference.
"When you take a break, you never really know how you will feel," said Tyler Motte, Canucks winger. “I thought we played pretty well in the first round, but we got away with the second. We didn't care about the puck. In the third we improved there, but we still have a long way to go. "
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"We shot ourselves in the foot there," said striker Tanner Pearson, the ex-king. "We weren't strong enough on the walls. If you make sales on the blue lines, it looks like you are kept busy all night. We were able to stop the siege there and still got two points. But it is pretty clear, we have to play better. "
Motte, who scored his first goal of the season in a 4-2 win against Edmonton Oilers on Monday, blew a wrist shot past Los Angeles goalkeeper Jonathan Quick and scored 2-0 for Vancouver at 19:32 first period.
Jake Virtanen opened the game at 10:22 am by accepting Austin Wagner's terrible cross-ice sales and converting the generous rebound quick that was offered the first time the Canuck shot out of the slot.
Most of the rest of the game was played in Vancouver's zone. Overall, the shot attempts were 94-38 for the kings. (We just checked; this is not a typo).
Since Markström's return from his father's funeral in Sweden was brilliant in nine games, he had single-handedly led the Canucks when the kings defeated them 18-7 in the meantime.
When Los Angeles scored the 2-2 draw against Tyler Toffoli's rebound to score 6:46, Vancouver responded only 19 seconds later when Elias Pettersson got an excellent pass from J.T. Miller in a duel after the Canuck landed behind Kings Walk's defender Sean Walker.
"We didn't have our best game," said Pettersson. "We made a lot of sales, but that's why you have a good goalkeeper. He gave us the win today.
“We were sloppy with the puck. We tried to play too many games on the blue line and that cost us a lot of chances. It's good that we can win, but we can't go on as we did in the next game. "
The next game is Sunday in Calgary, and it seems impossible that Thatcher Demko will not make his first start against the flames since December 7th after a concussion after Markstrom's work on Saturday.
When Pettersson was asked about Markstrom's 50 shots, the Canucks Center corrected the questioner: "Fifty-one".
It has been the most shots fired by the Canucks since the St. Louis Blues shot 50:19 against them in a 3-0 draw in Vancouver on March 19, 2016. In 50 years in the NHL, the Canucks had never won a 50-stroke home game.
"If you look at it again, you throw a lot of pucks on the net," said Markstrom. “There were a few rebounds where they got a few hits that I might have been able to hold the first puck on. If you get the win, it's easier to go through the video afterwards. "
After four losses in five games just eleven days ago and the risk of losing contact with the playoff race, the Canucks were brought back into the fight by Markstrom. He has been 5-3 since December 10th and has won three times with at least 43 strokes.
"A huge win," said Markstrom, 29, after his milestone win. "To be back in the profit column right after the break is of course a good feeling."
"Incredible," said Pearson. "He definitely won it for us."