The Vegas Golden Knights had lost their three previous games and Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said he knew “they’d come at us.” His club didn’t respond consistently enough.
“First two goals our coverage wasn’t good,” he said postgame. “It was really bad.”
Tocchet said his team had a nice push in the 2nd period before giving up a power play goal, what he considered Vegas’s first good chance of the second period. William Karlsson’s 11th goal of the season came at the 11:27 mark and gave the Golden Knights a 3-0 lead.
“They’re strong on the puck,” Tocchet added. “They’re the Stanley Cup champs for a reason. They were just strong on the puck tonight. Like I said, we had a few pushes, but not enough.”
Big, mobile defencemen are key to the success of Stanley Cup champions and come playoff time, the nastier they are, the better. The Canucks added one on Thursday by acquiring Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames. Tocchet was impressed with the deal.
“He’s a much needed guy, it’s a great trade for us,” he said. “Long, disruptive, sticks in the lanes, cycle busters, get to the cycle, knock some people down. To be honest, net front too. Clear the front of the net type of guy. He’ll take sticks, he’ll take bodies out of there, and that’s gonna help our team.”
The Canucks gave up the 2024 5th-round NHL Draft choice they acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in the Anthony Beauvillier trade earlier in the week and they also sent the Flames a 3rd-round pick in 2026.
The ever-changing landscape in the Pacific Division pecking order took on yet another new look on Thursday night.
With the loss, the Canucks slipped three points behind Vegas at the top of the division, while the Kings actually lost a game. Los Angeles, 7-2-and-1 and undefeated on the road this season, presently sits two points behind Vancouver but has a whopping four games in hand on both the Canucks and the Golden Knights.
The two Alberta teams are creeping up. The Flames have won back-to-back games while moving to 4th place while the Edmonton Oilers have won four in a row and crept up to 6th.
The Seattle Kraken lost for the sixth time post-regulation, most in the Western Conference, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shoot-out 4-3. Vancouver’s southern neighbours remain two games below modern NHL .500 and in fifth place.
The Ducks have lost eight games in a row.
— Canucks Handle Ducks 3-1, Hughes Streak Ends At 11