The Canucks took the first step in handling back-to-back visitors from the Sunshine State with their 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday evening. The reigning eastern conference Stanley Cup Finalist Florida Panthers stop in Thursday to offer up the next serious challenge.
The Cats will be trying to bounce back after dropping a 4-0 decision to the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Tuesday night.
The Canucks played a complete game against the Bolts, particularly after the first twenty minutes. Vancouver head coach Rich Tocchet thought his club lacked energy and focus in the first period, giving up a goal to Brayden Point at the 1:25 mark.
Vancouver would score the next four goals unanswered, including a Brock Boeser natural hat trick that bridged the second and third periods and ended with an empty-netter.
With the three tallies, Boeser moved to 21 on the season and into a 1st place tie with Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL goal scoring race. Matthews and the Leafs have played three fewer games.
“I think it’s really awesome, especially after last season, but that being said, if I focus on that too much I think I’d get away from my game, so I’ve gotta continue to focus on what’s given me success and that’s all those little details,” Boeser said.
Canucks Kuzmenko Corrections
Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko has drawn plenty of attention in recent weeks, mostly due to reduced ice time and critical analysis from his head coach. The Russian winger started the campaign on Vancouver’s top line coming off a 39-goal season, but has since dropped to the bottom-six and has sat out three games.
Tuesday night he took positive steps with a goal, two shots, and better defensive play in 12:56 of ice time on the club’s 4th line.
The Canucks are paying the 27-year-old righty $5.5-million this season and next.
“He had some energy tonight,” Tocchet said. “He’s been shooting. ‘Gonch’ (development coach and former NHL defenceman Sergei Gonchar) is here. He’s been spending a lot of time with Gonch and shooting a lot of pucks. He’s shot a lot of pucks the last three days and because he shoots that puck he scores. We’re getting him to shoot the puck more in practice, now we’ve gotta get him to translate it to the game, but I just thought he had more energy tonight. It’s a good little building block for him.”
“It’s an interesting moment for me, I like it, it’s a difficult time for me,” Kuzmenko said postgame. “It’s no problem, this is hockey. Last season was good, this season is not good, but it’s not finished season. I have time, very important time for me.”
Like Tocchet and Boeser, “Koozy” also praised Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko.
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