Demko Gets Shutout, Hirose 2-Assists, Canucks Snap 4-Game Losing Streak With 3-0 Win Over Chicago


Alex Stalock #32 Connor Murphy #5 and Alex Vlasic #72 of the Chicago Blackhawks defend against Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks during the first period of their NHL game at Rogers Arena. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

 April 6, 2023

VANCOUVER — Thatcher Demko made 33 saves for the Vancouver Canucks in a 3-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena on Thursday.

It was Demko’s first shutout of the season and third of his NHL career. He hadn’t had a shutout since Dec. 6, 2021, against the Los Angeles Kings.

Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

“I try to stop them all every night,” Demko said. “It doesn’t always work out that way, but it feels good.”

Demko is 9-4-2 with a .913 save percentage since returning Feb. 27 from a groin injury that kept him out almost three months. 

“I definitely want to make sure my last few starts on this stretch here are sharp,” he said.

Andrei KuzmenkoJ.T. Miller and Vitali Kravtsov scored, and Akito Hirose had two assists for his first NHL points for the Canucks (35-36-7), who ended a four-game skid (0-2-2).

Elias Pettersson (37-61—98 in 76 GP) with his assist tonight, is two points away from becoming the sixth different player in Canucks franchise history to reach 100 points in a single season. The last player to do so was Daniel Sedin (41-63—104) in 2010-11. 

Akito Hirose #36 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during the first period of their NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)

Alex Stalock made 26 saves for the Blackhawks (25-47-6), who have lost nine of their past 10 games in regulation.

“Demko is a pretty good goalie,” said Blackhawks forward Jason Dickinson, who played with Vancouver last season before being traded to Chicago on Oct. 7, 2022. “It felt like we had a lot of chances, a lot of traffic to the net, a lot of tips, and still just couldn’t find a way to get that one to go home.”

Demko made his best save on a Blackhawks power play at 11:47 of the first period, sprawling across with his left pad to take a backdoor tap-in away from Boris Katchouk. He also stopped Lukas Reichel‘s low wrist shot on a breakaway from the hash marks midway through the second period.

Demko kicked out the right pad on a quick Taylor Raddysh shot from the slot 40 seconds into the third period.

“Some of the saves he made I think were Grade-A saves, but they’re routine,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said. “He just looked big in the net, like nothing was going to get by him. Even when they had a couple of backdoor chances, he was there, post to post.”

Andrei Kuzmenko #96 of the Vancouver Canucks skates back to the bench to celebrate his goal with teammates during the first period of their NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Kuzmenko put Vancouver ahead 1-0 at 16:16 of the first period with his 38th goal of the season, a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that beat Stalock on the glove side through a double screen.

Kravtsov, back in the lineup after being scratched for three straight games, made it 2-0 on the power play at 3:53 of the second when his backdoor pass attempt from the left face-off dot deflected in off Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones.

“I just tried to make play, pass to Dries for the backdoor. Just try keep doing this, try to shoot more pucks, and maybe score more goals,” Kravtsov said. “Having points is always nice, but I have to play much better and keep building from that and try to show my effort. I want to stay on this team and in this league.”

Hirose had the secondary assist on both goals, his first NHL points in his third game since signing as a free agent on March 29 following his junior season at Minnesota State University.

“I’d probably say I’m more excited for getting the two points in the ‘W’ over getting my own two points,” Hirose said. “Just happy we got to win.”

Miller scored into an empty net with 25 seconds for the 3-0 final.

It was the ninth time Chicago was shut out this season.

“We just didn’t have any finish around the net, and the goalie was good as well,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “After our power play in the second period, we had a real good buzz for about two or three shifts, but unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it across the line. We had a really good look on the backdoor a few times, and he’s a big goalie, and he got over there and played it well.”

It was also the Canucks’ first shutout since Demko’s previous one, a stretch of 133 games without one, setting a team record.

“I really wanted [Demko] and our goalies to get a shutout,” Tocchet said. “I think they deserved the shutout.”

Cole McWard #48 of the Vancouver Canucks plays the puck during the second period of their NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)

NOTES: Raddysh left with a lower-body injury with 8:55 remaining in the third period. “For us, that’s a big loss on the power play, and then 6-on-5,” Richardson said. “We’ll have to see how he is tomorrow.” … Canucks defenseman Cole McWard played 14:35 in his NHL debut after signing a two-year, entry-level contract Tuesday. The 21-year-old recently completed his sophomore season at Ohio State University with 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists in 39 games). … Vancouver sent defenseman Jack Rathbone to Abbotsford of the American Hockey League before the game.


Flames Outscore Canucks For 5-4 OT Win, Pettersson Extends Career-High Point Streak To 14 Games


Anthony Beauvillier #72 of the Vancouver Canucks scores a goal on Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Calgary Flames during the second period of their NHL game. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

March 31, 2023

VANCOUVER — Tyler Toffoli scored his second goal at 3:27 of overtime, and the Calgary Flames rallied for a 5-4 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Friday.

Toffoli finished off a 2-on-1 pass from Mikael Backlund with a shot in alone over the glove of a sprawling Thatcher Demko after Jonathan Huberdeau tied it 4-4 on a Calgary power play with 3:13 left in the third period.

It was the Flames first win when trailing after two periods all season (1-18-3) and it kept them two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

“It’s about time we came back and won a game,” Toffoli said. “We needed it.”

Troy Stecher had a goal and an assist, Backlund and MacKenzie Weegar each had two assists, and Jacob Markstrom made 16 saves for the Flames (35-26-15), who have won three in a row for the first time since Dec. 7 and just the third time all season. 

Calgary has won four of its past five games but still trails Winnipeg, which defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 earlier Friday.

“You can look at the standings, where we are and the fight that we’re in, so a big two points for us obviously and got to keep this going,” Stecher said. “It speaks volumes to the character we have in this room. It seemed anytime we scored we took a step backwards. It’s not something you want to do, but at the end of the day we find a way to get two points and stay in the hunt.”

Demko made 36 saves for the Canucks (34-34-7), who have at least one point in five straight games (3-0-2) and are 10-2-2 in their past 14. But after tightening up defensively since coach Rick Tocchet took over for Bruce Boudreau on Jan. 22, they have given up 11 goals in their past two games.

“I don’t know if it’s a structure thing; we’ve got to win a little more battles,” Tocchet said. “Some guys have to get a little more gritty in situations. … We’re not there yet and we’ve got to get to that level. And that’s getting stronger, anticipating a little bit, and meeting pressure with pressure. We’ll get there but, hey, listen, another point against a desperate team.”

Conor Garland put the Canucks ahead 1-0 at 8:30 of the first period on a breakaway after stealing the puck from Backlund at the blue line.

Elias Pettersson made it 2-0 on a power-play one-timer 36 seconds into the second period, extending his NHL career-high point streak to 14 games and 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) but he was more focused on the end result, which included being in the penalty box for high sticking when Huberdeau tied it. 

“Very frustrating,” Pettersson said. “They were maybe a better team overall. They had more shots, more looks, but we defended with everything we could.”

Toffoli pulled Calgary within 2-1 at 2:55 of the second period, scoring on a deke to the backhand in alone after both Canucks defensemen converged on Andrew Mangiapane on a 2-on-2 rush inside the blue line.

Blake Coleman tied it 2-2 at 9:00 when Backlund swept a rebound of a deflected Stecher point shot across the top of the crease to him, stranding Demko.

Aidan McDonough scored his first NHL goal on a similar play at 12:12 to put the Canucks ahead 3-2. Sheldon Dries made a backhand pass from his knees through the crease to McDonough for a quick shot over the pad of Markstrom.

Aidan McDonough #25 of the Vancouver Canucks holds his first NHL goal puck after their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

“You dream about scoring that on the driveway or in the backyard your whole life,” said McDonough, who was playing his second NHL game since signing March 13 after his senior season at Northeastern University ended. “It was pretty special.”

Demko stopped Huberdeau on a penalty shot at 13:04 after he was fouled on a breakaway, but Stecher tied it 3-3 off the rush at 15:52 with a quick shot from inside the right face-off dot after a cross-ice pass from Nazem Kadri.

Anthony Beauvillier restored the Vancouver lead 14 seconds later, finishing a 2-on-1 give-and-go with Nils Aman with a backdoor tap-in to make it 4-3 at 16:06.

But Vancouver only had two shots in the third period, and Huberdeau tied it on the power play at 16:47 of the third period when Noah Hanifin‘s point shot bounced off the end boards to him at the bottom of the left face-off circle on the other side, and his quick shot went in off Demko.

“It was important,” Huberdeau said. “We had a lot of shots on net (41), the goalie was playing well, and it was good to finally come back after two periods. It’s good to have one. At this time of the year, it’s really important.”

NOTES: Pettersson is tied with Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller for the longest active point streak in the NHL and tied Darcy Rota for the third longest point streak in Canucks history behind Petr Nedved (15 games, 1992-93) and Todd Bertuzzi (15, 2001-02). … Toffoli has an NHL career-high 33 goals. He scored 31 with the Los Angeles Kings in 2015-16. … Stetcher’s two points give him 101 in his NHL career. … Canucks defenseman Filip Hronek didn’t play and will likely miss the rest of the season to rest and strengthen a shoulder injury, according to Tocchet. Hronek sustained the injury in a game with the Red Wings the night before being traded to Vancouver on March 1. He missed his first 10 games with the Canucks but played the past four before sitting out Friday.