COLUMBUS, OH – In a critical matchup for the Vancouver Canucks amid their ongoing turmoil and lack of on-ice success, they faced the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night at Nationwide Arena. Columbus thought they scored 56 seconds in, however Vancouver challenged it for being offsides and won the challenge to keep it a 0-0 game, needless to say the fans weren’t happy.
Post-game, Canucks head coach Travis Green said their coaching staff was confident with the challenge and wouldn’t have done so if they weren’t.
The Columbus crowd also known as The Fifth Line showed their displeasure with the officiating multiple times as the teams got in multiple scuffles.
At the 7:24 mark, Zach Werenski went to the box on a roughing call against Vancouver’s Nils Hoglander. Then with 6:06 left to go in the first, Columbus’ Gustav Nyquist got the puck on a breakaway and put it home for a 1-0 lead. Nyquist’s goal was his fourth of the season and eighth point overall. However, his goal further enforced Vancouver’s struggles on the power play and is just another blemish with their on-ice performance this season, particularly on special teams. With 27.6 seconds to go, Vancouver evened it up on a goal up close by Vasily Podkolzin assisted by Justin Dowling. The period ended 1-1 with Vancouver leading in shots on goal 13-4. Podkolzin’s goal was his fourth of the season and fifth point overall while Dowling’s assist was his first of the season and third point overall.
With 13:43 to go in the second, a Blue Jackets shot from top of the zone bounced off Thatcher Demko’s pads and came out for a rebound shot by Adam Boqvist who put it home for a 2-1 lead. Assist came by way of Cole Sillinger and Gavin Bayreuther. It was Boqvist’s second goal of the season and third point overall. Sillinger’s assist was his fifth of the season and ninth point overall while Bayreuther’s was his fourth of the season for his fourth point overall.
With 9:32 to go in the second, Columbus’ Yegor Chinakhov went off to the box for two minutes for delay of game. But just like the first period, Vancouver was unable to capitalize on the power play, which has been a struggle all season and one of their main weaknesses. Similar to the first period, Vancouver struck late to tie it, this time with 1:18 to go in the period. From a top corner of the zone, Tyler Motte scored his first goal of the season with assists from Quinn Hughes and Alex Chiasson. The goal was Motte’s second point overall with Hughes’ picking up his 13th assist and 15th point overall and Chiasson collecting his third assist and fifth point overall. The period ended 2-2 with Vancouver leading in shots 29-10.
Yet, despite the massive lead in shots, Vancouver couldn’t put anything past Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins. With everything the team is struggling with this season both on and off-ice, little things like this performance wise could see the end for the current coaching staff. Don’t expect changes to end there either as more will likely happen during the off-season.
Just like the first two periods, Columbus took the lead with 13:54 to go in the period on a top center zone shot from Jack Roslovic with assists to Jakub Voracek and Vladislav Gavrikov. It was Roslovic’s third goal of the season and eighth point overall. Voracek’s assist was his 16th of the season and 17th point overall and Gavrikov’s ninth assist and 11th point overall. The Blue Jackets would seal it on an empty net goal by Max Domi, his third of the season and ninth point overall. Assists came by way of Gustav Nyquist, his second point of the night and ninth overall on the season with Vladislav Gavrikov picking up his second assist of the night and 12th point overall on the season.
The Canucks recent struggles are evident with the way they get shots up, but fail to put much in the back of the net and the Canucks’ Conor Garland touched on that issue post-game. He said it doesn’t matter how well you play, but that they just need to start winning games.
“Just gotta find a way to get a third one in there, I thought we played well, our record’s not very good, so we need to start winning games,” Garland said. ‘We’ve played well a ton, just haven’t got the results and unfortunately they’re just stringing along right now.”
However, despite the result, Garland thought the team played faster and pushed the pace and said they had a lot that were close to going in. He said they just need to find a way to win one then get on a run.
Like Garland, Motte thought they played some good hockey, but just couldn’t capitalize on opportunities to the amount the Blue Jackets did. He also emphasized the need to win now and figure out how to win each day. He touched on finding a way to get pucks and bodies to the net, finding the right balance of quality vs. quantity especially in tight games.
“We gotta learn, continue to learn, continue to try and get better, whether we had success in the past or not, it’s a new day every day, we gotta find a way to win that day, we haven’t been doing it enough,” Motte said. “Some nights you see more quality than quantity and they don’t go in and other nights it’s the reverse, so but either way we gotta find a way to put the puck in the net,” Motte said.
He touched on the mental aspect of the game as well with the team’s recent struggles.
“It’s hard, there’s no way around it, but the only way is through, no one’s going to feel sorry for us, no one’s going to help us out, the guys in that room gotta figure it out and we gotta find a way to get better and win hockey games, I guess that’s the bottom line,” Motte said.
Like his players ahead of him, head coach Travis Green though the team played a hell of a game saying he felt bad for the group and that it was one of their better games of the year.
“I just think we were on our game, our details were sharp, gotta give our group lot of credit, they played a strong game and they’re going to have to bounce back, it’s tough to lose when you play well,” Green said.
Green touched on the amount of scoring chances they had and not complaining when they had the puck as much as they did. When it comes to the team’s future with possible trades and organizational changes, Green didn’t seem too worried about off-ice speculation. Just take a look at Thomas Drance’s tweet below.
He did however, say after games like these, they do worry about keeping the guys together and believing in themselves. Green thought it was an easier game to have them believe in and not get too down.
“They know they played a good hockey game tonight, I thought we were better tonight than we were in the Chicago game in areas that maybe wouldn’t show up,” Green said. “I thought throughout our lineup, everyone was buying in and playing the right way, we had a lot of good energy on the bench, they’re going to be disappointed though for sure, I don’t blame them.”
Green ended with saying that he thought all of the team’s lines had a pretty strong night.