The Wild vs Canucks Win The Battle But Virtanen Was Impressive In The War
The Wild were able to take care of the Canucks 4-2 on Thursday night at Excel Energy Arena. They still are not out of the NHL western conference playoff race yet. Virtanen was impressive in an early fight but wasn't able to spark Vancouver and they were down 3-0 after the first period. Despite the 4-2 score, there were some positives to take from the game. Has Jake finally taken the next step in his development to become a true power forward?
Tonights Wild vs Canucks game was a night to forget for the road team. Elias Pettersson was a late scratch after taking warm-up so Zack MacEwen got the call. They were taken care of in the first period and after some pushback, they couldn't get closer than 2 goals down. Minnesota scored 4 seconds after a penalty to Jay Beagle ended. With control in the Vancouver zone, Luke Kunin cycled it around the net to Kevin Fiala who found Brad Hunt at the point. His wrist shot was able to beat a screened Jacob Markstrom for the 1-0 Wild lead.
The Wild doubled the lead 10:39 into the first period. After a dump in right on Markstrom, he made a bad decision and backhanded it off the boards. His angle was off and it came right to Captain Mikko Koivu, he wasn't able to score but his attempt went right to Ryan Hartman. He scored his 7th of the season on a nice backhand to beat the goalie. Vancouver got a powerplay when Koivu slashed Loui Eriksson but their anemic powerplay wasn't able to connect after having possession for most of the two minutes.
Vancouver would be next to take a penalty when Eriksson took a tripping penalty on Mats Zuccarello. Ryan Donato and Hunt got assists on the goal but it was all Fiala. He rushed into the Canucks zone and made Tyler Myers look silly before roofing it past Markstrom. The Wild vs Canucks were up 3-0 after the first period. A Marcus Foligno holding penalty would give Vancouver a powerplay to end the first and start the second but they again couldn't score.
Shots were 12-10 for the Wild after the first period. Goaltender Alex Stalock wasn't tested with many real chances in the first as Vancouver missed the net or choose to pass when they got in front of the net. The only bright spot that happened to be Virtanen was impressive in his effort to drop the gloves and stick up for Antione Roussel after a hit. Jason Zucker was the unlucky participant in his first fight and it gave the only highlight of the period for Canucks fans.
Canucks Fought Back In The Second Period
The start of the second period was back and forth with few whistles between the Wild vs Canucks. The fourth line for Vancouver was able to get some chances but was turned aside by Stalock. Minnesota came back and would have made it four or five nothing had it not been for Markstrom. he stopped Kunin multiple times once on a shot and then again on a tip-in front to keep it 3-0. The game rolled along and didn't pick up until about 10 minutes into the period.
Virtanen was impressive in his fight and sparked Zack MacEwen. Getting back in the lineup he would drop the gloves. A rush in by Vancouver led to a shot by Bo Horvat. Stalock made the save and MacEwen driving to the net was slashed by Jared Spurgeon. Rough stuff continued and Foligno dropped the gloves with MacEwen. It was an even fight and the Canucks looked to gain some momentum on the powerplay. J.T. Miller rushed it end to end and sniped a beautiful shot past Stalock and the Canucks were on the board.
The team took this as a wake-up call and found their legs for the rest of the period. The Canucks controlled most of the play at the end of the second but couldn't get to the middle of the ice. Horvat, tanner Pearson and MacEwen had some good shifts and Vancouver looked to want to make this a game in the 3rd period. Shots were 28-20 for the Wild vs Canucks after two periods. Markstrom also helped to keep his team in the game making several strong saves. Kunin despite getting the win is probably having a nightmare of Markstrom after how many times he was robbed.
Wild vs Canucks Trade Goals In the 3rd Period
Virtanen was impressive but no match for the so many of the other Canucks not showing up. Brock Boeser who was playing in front of his friends and Family was quick to pass the puck instead of shoot. That seemed to be the mentality of most of the team. After 10 minutes of Vancouver trying to dump it in and Minnesota clearing it out the home, the team was very happy. They were even more happy about all of the calls that were going there way.
Adam Gaudette did some hard work down low and after it looked it he was hooked he lost the puck. Fiala got it and Gaudette was called for a soft hooking call. the Wild vs Canucks had another powerplay and put the game out of reach. Jacob Markstrom was upset after he felt he was bumped but Zach Parise. Parise blocked Suters shot from the point and put the puck in on the powerplay. So much for the comeback.
Vancouver would skate out the period with a bit of passion but nothing to come back from 3 goals down. Virtanen was impressive all game with just 12:40 of ice time. Jonas Brodin took a holding call on Horvat at the 17:04 mark. Down three goals coach Tarvis Green pulled the goalie and was able to get one goal back. Alex Edler and Tyler Myers would get assists on a Roussel rebound goal. Vancouver cut the lead to 2 goals but that was as close as they would come.
The wild vs Canucks came away with the 4-2 victory thanks to 24 saves on 26 shots by Alex Stalock. The Wild get closer to a wildcard spot with the win up now to 56 points. Vancouver remains top of the Pacific Division despite the loss and returns home after the 5 game road trip. They went a respectable 2-2-1 on a tough trip across North America. They can take home lots from the trip and now have a season-long homestand. 6 games in 15 days before heading back out on the road should be good to the Canucks.
Minnesota will head off to Dallas after stopping the Canucks where Virtanen was impressive. They also played spoiler to a homecoming for Boeser. He has struggled of late and it continued tonight against the Wild. Several times he was open in the slot and choose to pass it. It wasn't until late when he tested Stalock but was stopped by the left pad.
The Game Was Lost But Virtanen Was Impressive
Vancouver fell 4-2 to the Wild in a game that saw them lose Pettersson in pregame and then Oscar Fantenberg late. It seemed Vancouver didn't know the start time expect for the game. The only one besides Markstrom and Miller to show up was Jake. Virtanen was impressive with the early fight sticking up for his teammate. He played a great game and couldn't be faulted for the loss. Neither could Jacob Markstrom who once again had a solid game despite the 4 goals against.
Virtanen was impressive in his limited time on ice. That could be a result of the 5-minute fighting major he took in the first period. He managed 3 shots, 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in his time on time on ice. He looked more dominant than the stats would show and the same could be said for the entire season. He was quick to stick up for his teammates dropping the gloves early with Zucker. Thursday night really showed the Jake we are all waiting for. He was big fast and dominant with the puck.
Virtanen was impressive against the Wild and has been all season long. Already with a career-high 31 points in just 55 games, Jake has smashed his previous 25 points from last year. He has seen a steady improvement in point production over the last 3 seasons. Virtanen has tied his career-high with goals at 15. And with 27 games to go the 20 goal mark is not out of the question. Another really positive stat from this season is the time that Jake is scoring his goals. he leads the team with 6 game winning goals this year.
Wild Vs Canucks Highlights: Virtanen Was Impressive
Canucks lost 4-2 to the Wild but stay in the top spot in the West. Check out the highlights here including a great fight by Shot Gun Jake. Virtanen was impressive all game and will be a big part off this teams run towards the playoffs.
For all your Sports News make sure to follow Sports Talk Line and subscribe to our youtube channel. It was a tough loss but things look positive for the future. Vancouver will take on the Calgary Flames Saturday night from Rogers Arena in the start to Sedin Week.