The Vancouver Canucks have been struggling lately, but on Jan. 18 they started a patch of contests that seemed ideal for burying that slump. They would play five straight games against teams that don’t hold a playoff spot and host four of those matches.
They closed out that stretch with a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, bringing them down to 3-2-0 during that stretch. Vancouver didn’t win a single game by more than a goal and haven’t since Dec. 29.
This also means that the Canucks are just 4-7-3 over their past 14 contests.
At least Jordan Schroeder provided the Canucks with a silver lining. The 23-year-old forward scored twice in his first game with Vancouver since October. Schroeder has missed most of the 2013-14 campaign due to foot and ankle problems.
David Perron opened the scoring at 9:11 of the first period and found the back of the net a second time just before the first intermission. He ended up collecting an empty-netter as the contest was winding down to complete the hat trick.
It was Jesse Joensuu that got credited with the game-winning goal though. The 26-year-old scored for the 10th time in 98 career NHL contests.
Vancouver’s schedule will pick up now with a match against the Chicago Blackhawks before they begin a five-game road trip that will take them to the Olympic break. The Canucks still have a five-point lead over Phoenix in the battle for a Wild Card spot, but they have also played in two more games.
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.