The Canucks found a way to unlock their dormant power-play potential by combining puck movement, traffic, and hockey instinct.
J.T. Miller notched two power-play goals and Elias Pettersson also scored on the man advantage as the Canucks defeated the Dallas Stars 6-3 Sunday.
Vancouver finished the night 3 for 6 on the power play. The Canucks came into Sunday 0 for 17 on the power play in their previous four games and were 3 for 28 in the previous seven.
We weren’t really having fun on the power play anymore,” said Miller, who has four goals in his last three games. We didn’t want to be stagnant and robotic. We decided to throw a little bit more movement in there today.
“It just happened the pucks were going in and it looked great.”
Pettersson, who scored just his second goal of the season and the first in 10 games, said the difference was playing on instinct.
“I like to play with instinct,” said the 22-year-old Swede, who also had two assists. “It showed today that it worked out great for us. We just saw the play that was open, took it and shot the puck.
“Hopefully, we can continue this trend.”
Bo Horvat had a goal and two assists for the Canucks (5-6-1). Brock Boeser scored into an empty net and had an assist, while Vasily Podkolzin also scored. Defenceman Quinn Hughes had three assists for the Canucks, who are 2-4-0 their last six games.
Joe Pavelski and Ryan Suter, both on the power play, and Luke Glendening scored for the Stars (4-5-2). Jason Robertson had a pair of assists.
Canuck goaltender Thatcher Demko stopped 25 shots, including an amazing stick save on Jamie Benn in the first period.
Anton Khudobin made 30 saves for the Stars.
Pettersson has struggled this season after signing a three-year contract worth US$7.35 million a year.
“It’s been a couple of games since I scored,” said Pettersson, who has two goals and six assists in 12 games. “It just brings a lot of confidence.”
The Canucks’ power play had flow and plenty of movement. The passes were crisp.
“We want to play faster, move the puck faster, make the penalty kill have to work a little harder,” said Miller. “I think we were making it a little easy on the penalty kill at times.
“Tonight, we moved it around quick, had a lot of shots, had a lot of traffic. It was great. We felt good today.”
Dallas coach Rick Bowness was frustrated with his team’s performance.
“We’re going to have to fix the penalty kill, we’re going to have fix the discipline and we’re going to have to fix the consistency with which we play the game,” said Bowness.
“We’re beating ourselves. You’re making it too easy for the opposition and that’s what we did tonight in a lot of ways and we’re going to fix it.”
The Stars have yet to win a game in regulation this season.
“That’s not good,” said Pavelski. “We’ve got to find a way to be better.”
The Stars led 1-0 after the first period. It was the 10th time in 12 games Vancouver surrendered the opening goal.
The Canucks scored four times in the second to go ahead 4-2. Vancouver had a chance to build on its lead but couldn’t find the net with a two-man advantage for 1:11.
Canucks coach Travis Green liked the initiative the power play showed.
“I think offensive players need to play on instinct,” he said. “Defensive hockey is more X’s and O’s, direct lines, certain spots you have to be in.
“Offensive players need to play on instinct.”
Miller said the success the Canucks found on the power play against Dallas needs to be the rule, not the exception.
“Tonight, we looked like an elite power play, but we just can’t do it one time and feel good,” he said. “We have to come out with the same urgency the next game.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2021.