Fri, 26 Feb 2021

Canucks look to snap slump vs. Montreal

Field Level Media
20 Jan 2021, 12:40 GMT+10

Losing three straight games -- by a combined 13-4 count -- has led the Vancouver Canucks to do some soul searching heading into Wednesday's home opener against the Montreal Canadiens.

On the heels of a two-game sweep at the hands of the Calgary Flames, the second being a 5-2 defeat on Monday, theCanucks will look to fix a litany of problems.

They're the league's most undisciplined team, having been shorthanded 21 times in four games and they've surrendered seven power-play goals in those affairs. Making things worse, the Canucks have yet to score a single power-play goal of their own.

"Penalties and turnovers. It's a bad combination," coach Travis Green said after Monday's loss. "They got the momentum and we never got it back. It's a frustrated team ... and we should be disappointed."

The clash is the first of three games in four nights between the Canadiens and Canucks on the West Coast. The Canadiens have won four straight in Vancouver and arrive after taking both parts of a two-game set in Edmonton.

Key to those victories, the most recent being a 3-1 win on Monday, was holding Edmonton's star forwards Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid to one point in the two games. McDavid had one assist in the first game.

"We knew the only chance we had of winning here in Edmonton was to make sure those guys were not an impact on the game," coach Claude Julien said. "We didn't necessarily decide to sit on top of those guys, but we did a good job of getting on them quick, getting some good angles, and getting in their way and slowing them down. ...

"The reason we're coming out of here with four points is that we were really able to nullify their one-two punch that can win games for them."

Speaking of star players looking for offensive production, Vancouver's young standout Elias Pettersson, who tied for the team lead with 27 goals and managed 66 points in 68 games last season, has just one assist in four outings to start the campaign. His frustration showed last game, during which he took a pair of penalties, including a slashing infraction for which he was fined.

"I'm not playing with the best confidence right now," Pettersson said. "I'm playing too stationary and I need to move my feet because I'm an easy target. And I take two dumb penalties and it's not acceptable.

"I was disappointed in letting my team down and letting my frustrations show. It's not going to happen again. When we're not playing our best hockey, we can't sink that low. We have to find our game and we can't let them roll over us."

Pettersson may be in his third NHL season, but learning how to play through a slump is new for him, and something he'll learn to do.

"The first period, that line started to look like what they are and we could have quite easily had two or three goals," Green said. "Is he squeezing the stick a little bit right now? It's getting talked about by other people and it does play on your mind a bit. He's still a young player and hasn't had the start he wants, but that's alright. He'll get through it."

--Field Level Media

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