There was plenty working against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.
Playing the fourth game of their six-game road trip, and on back-to-back nights, the Canucks entered Detroit to play the Red Wings carrying the baggage of three losses in a row, shut out defeats in two of those games, and without captain Henrik Sedin due to a lower-body injury.
That was on top of Vancouver’s offensive struggles that involved numerous players mired in slumps. It looked for a while like that would continue in Detroit.
Alex Burrows was robbed of what looked to be a sure goal thanks to a great glove save from Jimmy Howard. Bo Horvat missed a chance on a wrap-around a few minutes later — again with an open net.
But the Canucks did eventually capitalize on their chances, survived a frantic overtime, which has been a weakness this season, and defeated the Red Wings 4-3 after a seven-round shootout.
Linden Vey, waived at the beginning of the season and recalled from the AHL Utica Comets with the Sedin injury, scored the winner.
Sven Baertschi scored to bust a 13-game drought. He finished with two points. Jared McCann, 19, busted a 14-game scoring drought with his goal in the first period. Radim Vrbata, who had previously gone four games without a point, had a goal and an assist.
The weirdest part of Friday’s win, though, is what it did for the Canucks in the Pacific Division.
With a 12-14-8 record, they’re now fourth in the division, one point back of San Jose for second and a playoff position.
Another game for the Pittsburgh Penguins with Mike Sullivan behind the bench and another loss.
For the second time this week, the Penguins lost to the Boston Bruins, this time by a final score of 6-2 on Friday.
Boston got a hat trick from Frank Vatrano — the first of his NHL career in just his 17th game — and scored four unanswered goals to completely take the game over, sending the struggling Penguins, once again without goalie Marc-Andre Fleury due to a concussion, to their third straight loss since last weekend’s coaching change.
The night started with positive vibes for the Penguins. Undrafted free agent signing Conor Sheary scored his first NHL goal at the age of 23, burying a pass from Sidney Crosby.
Recently acquired defenseman Trevor Daley scored his first goal as a Penguin.
But seven minutes after Daley scored, the Bruins took back the lead on a Loui Eriksson power play goal in the second period. Patrice Bergeron increased the lead for Boston, and it was the Frank Vatrano Show after that, as he scored twice in three minutes late in the third period to record the hat trick.
Add another Alex Ovechkin goal to his career highlight reel.
Ovechkin dangled Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman and then beat goalie Ben Bishop with a quick wrist shot to tie Friday’s game at three goals apiece on a third period power play.
That’s Ovechkin’s 16th goal of the season and second of the night. It also helped the Capitals complete the comeback, as they defeated the Lightning by a final score of 5-3, courtesy five unanswered goals, including four in the third period.
Washington trailed 3-0 by the midway point of the second period, with Steven Stamkos busting out of his scoring slump and Capitals goalie Braden Holtby getting pulled.
Ovechkin started the comeback late in the second period, then notched the tying goal in the third. Marcus Johansson scored the winner 4:14 after the Ovechkin equalizer.
The Capitals have now won four in a row and six of eight in December.
Steven Stamkos has bumped his recent scoring slump.
The Tampa Bay Lightning star, fresh off his highly anticipated visit to Toronto and the resulting media throng (check out the coverage here and here) earlier this week, had gone 10 games without a goal prior to Friday against the Washington Capitals. That changed when he ripped a wrist shot off the rush past Braden Holtby to give Tampa Bay a three-goal lead in the second period.
For Stamkos, that’s his 12th goal of the season. Holtby was pulled after that, allowing three goals on 12 shots faced.
Alex Burrows had what looked to be a sure goal. But these are the struggling Vancouver Canucks and when it rains, it pours.
Burrows was robbed by Jimmy Howard, who flashed out the glove to deny Burrows on a rebound when it looked like the Canucks forward had essentially a wide open.
It did appear as if Burrows didn’t get a great shot away, as he put the puck right into Howard’s glove.
Tough times for the Canucks, indeed. They were shut out last night in Philadelphia, embarrassed in Minnesota and shut out in Chicago to start this six-game road trip.
Bo Horvat also had an opportunity to give Vancouver the lead, but couldn’t bury a wrap-around attempt moments after the Burrows chance.
Update: A Vancouver goal? Jared McCann gave the Canucks the lead late in the first period, with his seventh goal of the season. It’s McCann’s first goal since Nov. 16 — a span of 14 games without scoring.