Thatcher Demko stopped 38 of the 40 shots he faced to pace the Canucks to a come-from-behind win
It’s not how many shots you take, it’s what you do with them.
If someone in hockey has said this before — and it’s hard to imagine no one has — their name hasn’t been written down.
You are reading: Canucks 3, Kings 2 (SO): Vintage Demko steals a win in Los Angeles
But maybe Elias Pettersson should get credit, even if he didn’t say it post game.
The Vancouver Canucks’ star centre tied the game at 2-2 Saturday night at Crypto.com Arena against the Los Angeles Kings with a lethal wrist shot on a third-period power play. Vancouver would send the game to overtime and win it 3-2 in a shootout with J.T. Miller netting the winner.
Pettersson’s goal was just the 10th shot of the game for Vancouver as the Kings outshot Vancouver 40-17. The Canucks had just six shots in the first two periods. They managed seven on target in the third alone.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Anaheim Ducks
5 p.m., Honda Center. TV: Sportsnet. Radio: AM650
Thatcher Demko made 38 saves, stealing a win in what was a truly dire effort for the Canucks.
Thursday in Arizona, head coach Rick Tocchet called his team sleepy. And they looked even more sleepy in L.A., at least until Pettersson scored to tie the game up.
Tyler Myers missed the game because he felt under the weather, which makes you wonder if he was the only one not feeling well given the lack of energy in the Canucks’ game.
Brock Boeser scored the first goal of the game, then Alex Edler tied things up for the Kings.
Carl Grundstrom put the Kings in front in the second, before Pettersson’s third-period snipe off the right wing tied the game up and sent the affair to overtime.
Here’s what we learned …
So much of last season’s playoff push was about their goaltender.
So much of this season’s early-season struggles was also about their goaltender.
The real constant was that the Canucks were terrible defensively last year and even worse for the first half of this season.
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Since returning Feb. 27 against Dallas, Demko has been outstanding. He’s been the goalie that Bruce Boudreau praised so many times last season and Canucks fans lamented most nights last fall.
His 38 saves on Saturday marked the fourth time in eight starts since returning he’s faced more than 30 shots, though the first time in five games.
Deserve’s got lots to do with it
Brock Boeser hit posts the previous two games and had a couple other glorious chances to score.
He couldn’t find the back of the net, though.
Knowing how the hockey gods works, it was no surprise that he scored on a shot off the wing that was deflected by the defender — Edler, of all people — which put a nasty dip on his shot. The puck eluded L.A. goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
On a night where most Canucks were drowning in shots against, Boeser, skating on J.T. Miller’s win, was on the ice for nearly as many shot attempts for — 18 — as against — 19. The Miller line was making things happenon offence at five on five, even if they were just as poor defenisvely as the rest of their mates.
The Canucks have had a number of nights since Tocchet turned over where they’ve been better at breaking the puck out and that’s meant for a much better two-way flow to their game.
But they struggled to do so under the heavy forecheck of the Kings and the rising tide of shots against Demko was indicative of how much the Canucks got trapped in their own end.
Christian Wolanin (-22) and Guillaume Brisebois (-20) both got badly outshot while they were on the ice.
Both have been nice stories of perseverance this season, but in the long run the Canucks need to find better options for their blue line.
On Thursday in Arizona, the Canucks’ penalty kill was terrible — giving up two goals — and so was their power play, going goalless in five opportunities.
It was the reverse story on Saturday, as their penalty kill, the league’s worst, gave very little away to the Kings on two power plays, while Pettersson’s goal came on the Canucks’ sole power play opportunity, late in the third period.
The first period featured just eight faceoffs only took 25 minutes of real time.
Carl Grundstrom got what looked like it was going to be the winning goal for the Kings after leading a textbook forecheck behind the Canucks’ goal.
Hughes tried to collect a bouncing puck with his foot — the ice at the basketball-busy Crypto.com Arena is among the worst in the league — and it was Grundstrom who took the momentary lack of control by the normally sure-handed Canucks defenceman. He stapled Hughes into the boards, spilling the puck to Arthur Kaliyev, who found Rasmus Kupari in the slot.
Kupari then spied Grundstrom unchecked at the side of the net and while the Swede couldn’t collect the puck with his stick, he did redirect it with his foot and was credited with the goal.
Under the rules it probably shouldn’t have been a goal, but the Canucks didn’t challenge the play.
Down on the farm
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There’s not much for the NHL Canucks to play for but the AHL Canucks are almost certainly playoff-bound and the Canucks’ brass is very interested in their progress.
Canucks GM Patrik Allvin raved last month about the culture that’s developed in Abbotsford and from talking to players like Guillaume Brisebois and Christian Wolanin, who have spent so much time in the minors this season, it’s all about the energy the team’s youngest players bring to the table.
“The guys are young. They have energy,” said Brisebois.
The young players see their dream and they’re working for it, he said. It’s given him energy too.
“I’m 25 and I’m an old guy there,” he said with a laugh.
Arshdeep Bains is one of several interesting prospects in Abbotsford. Signed last summer out of the WHL, Bains’s work ethic would take him a long way, everyone said.
He’s forever had attention to detail and has worked hard to understand the flaws in his skill set and how he might be able to improve on them.
He scored a short-handed goal on Saturday against the Ontario Reign, the AHL affiliate of the Kings, that spoke to what a handy player he’s been in the AHL.
Ethan Bear was back in the lineup Saturday, having missed the last three weeks after taking a puck in the mouth on Feb. 25.
He dressed in place of Myers, who was under the weather.
The Canucks host Pride Night on March 31.
The Kings hosted Pride Night Saturday night. The designer of their warm-up sweaters this year is Mio Linzie who designed the Canucks’ Pride warm-up sweaters last season.
Linzie got to do a ceremonial faceoff before the game.