The Vancouver Canucks seem to be turning things around at exactly the right time.
Thursday night saw them polish off a three-game sweep against the Ottawa Senators, finishing the set with a 4-1 victory.
The 1-6-1 Senators are the worst team in the NHL, sitting with a minus-16 goal differential in the depths of the basement.
Vancouver firmly occupies the middle of the pack in the North Division, with a 5-5-0 record that puts them back into a playoff spot. They outscored the Senators 16-3 across three contests, despite being outshot in every game.
The Canucks were nearly in panic mode before their romp over Ottawa began, with talk of a “struggling” Elias Pettersson filling the airwaves.
But Pettersson and the rest of Vancouver’s top line found their groove against the Senators – and not a moment too soon.
It wasn’t long ago that the Canucks were licking their wounds from a drubbing at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens and it may not be long before that same old conversation begins again, what with a road trip ahead for Vancouver that’ll see six games against the three Canadian playoff teams. That trip starts in Winnipeg on Saturday.
And for a team like Vancouver, who leads the NHL in both goals scored and goals against, this sort of trip could mean a lot.
“We’re still trying to figure out some of the kinks in our game…and we’re still doing that,” defenceman Quinn Hughes said Thursday. “Like I said last year, we’re going to be better two months from now than we are now. That’s just the group we have; the more you play…the more we’ll figure each other out. The three games here were really big just to kind of get back on track before things really slide.”
Brock Boeser improved to nine points on the season after scoring two goals and assist Thursday, while Hughes leads the team with 11 points. Bo Horvat has 10 points, including five goals and five assists, and the club is finding its scoring touch once again.
But challenges await and they’ll be playing some tough hockey games over the next while. If the scoring holds and the tandem of Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko holds the fort in goal, Vancouver might return from this swing with more wins than expected.
The Senators, meanwhile, visit the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.