To quote the often-used phrase of Canucks’ head coach Willie Desjardins, Vancouver’s goalie Jacob Markstrom was “real good” Friday.
Without such a performance, the Canucks likely would’ve come out on the losing end against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Both the Canucks, the road team, and Hurricanes, the hosts but having traveled back from St. Louis the previous night, were playing on back-to-back nights. Yet the Canucks were constantly on the defensive, allowing 40 shots on goal and that’s where Markstrom comes in.
He allowed only two goals — Carolina’s tying goal was from a pass in front that deflected off the skate of a Vancouver defender — and the Canucks won 3-2 in overtime with only 22 shots on goal the entire game.
Bo Horvat had two goals, including the winner.
The Canucks’ goaltending situation is one to keep an eye on.
Markstrom, 25, has provided solid goaltending for the Canucks since Ryan Miller, the incumbent starter with a three-year, $18 million contract, was taken out of the lineup prior to the holiday break with what the coach initially called cramps.
In the last nine games, Markstrom has a save percentage of .930, with six wins and two regulation losses in that time.
Miller has since returned. He didn’t play bad on Thursday versus Washington in his first game back, but the Capitals are the NHL’s top team right now and the Canucks entered Friday’s game on the outside of the playoff picture in the West, and Miller was eventually solved.
But at 35 years of age, if Miller is to be the starter for the Canucks going forward this season, it would seem advantageous that he be refreshed, with a rest every few days.
At the very least, Markstrom’s play of late should further reinforce the need to get him increased playing time, while lessening the workload for Miller.