The Canucks lost 5-2 to the Flames in Calgary on Thursday night, which should come as no surprise to anyone given the recent schedule and some of the travel, hard work, and emotions involved.
After beating their former captain Bo Horvat and the New York Islanders in dramatic fashion the night before, it was the perfect game for Vancouver to lose as the perpetually desperate Flames took advantage on home ice.
Although the Canucks fell two points behind the first place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division, they’re still 7-2-and-1 in their last ten games, have 25 points, the third most in the NHL, and are undefeated at home in regulation, 6-0-and-1.
That’s where they’ll be on Saturday night when they host the Seattle Kraken.
Vancouver’s 3rd-round NHL Draft pick in 2018 Linus Karlsson played in his first NHL game on Thursday. Wearing number-94, the 24-year-old Swede saw 11:54 in ice time, had a hit, a scoring chance, three shots, and was on the ice when his linemate Nils Höglander scored the Canucks 2nd and final goal of the night.
“That was a dream come true, but it was not the result that we wanted,” Karlsson said postgame. “It was fun to see how it is in this league.”
Karlsson pointed out that it was a seamless transition coming up from AHL Abbotsford where the organizational game plan is the same. He played on the 4th line with his countryman “Hoagie” and centre Sam Lafferty.
“Yeah, I think it was really good and I think we played pretty well together,” Höglander said after. “We know each other from before and we played almost half the year last year together, so I wish that last puck went in for him at the end there, but he played really good tonight.”
Karlsson played 72 games in Abbotsford last season while Höglander played 45.
The line-up shuffle and addition of Karlsson was precipitated by the facial injury to winger Andrei Kuzmenko the night before.
J.T. Miller played his 300th game with the Canucks and tallied an assist as he fed Elias Pettersson for a one-timer on Vancouver’s 1st period power play goal that opened the scoring.
Remarkably, Quinn Hughes was also playing his 300th game with Vancouver, the only team he’s known, and picked up the other assist, giving each of the players one point in the game and keeping all three tied atop the NHL’s leader board. The three Canucks are ranked first in the league with 27 points.
Only Hall of Famer Pavel Bure had more points in his first 300 games for the Canucks than Miller, while Hughes is already the 6th leading scorer in history among Vancouver defencemen. At his current pace, he could flirt with passing all-time leader Alex Edler by the end of next season.