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Ed Willes: Markstrom, timely goals help surging Canucks whip Wild 3-0

EDMONTON — As Travis Green is fond of saying, some games you paint a portrait and some games you paint a barn. And while no one will ever accuse the Vancouver Canucks of an artistic performance in Game 3, they’re now one win away from their first series win in the post-season since 2011.

Then again, anyone can have an off decade.

Here’s what we learned from Thursday’s 3-0 win at Rogers Place, which gives the Canucks a 2-1 series lead in their best-of-five qualifying round series with the Minnesota Wild:


Markstrom, special teams shine

With an effort that could charitably be described as workmanlike, the Canucks received a standout goaltending performance from Jacob Markstrom, timely goals from Brock Boeser, Antoine Roussel and Elias Pettersson, and won the special teams battle.

Come to think of it, those are the earmarks of successful playoff hockey, which helps explain why the Canucks are one win away from moving on. Game 4 is Friday night.


CANUCKS VS. WILD

QUALIFYING SERIES

Canucks lead best-of-five series 2-1

Game 1: Wild 3, Canucks 0

Game 2: Canucks 4, Wild 3

Game 3: Canucks 3, Wild 0

Game 4: Friday, 7:45 p.m.

* Game 5: Sunday, TBD

* If necessary


“Sometimes you don’t feel your best and you don’t play your best,” Green said. “The 12:30 (p.m.) start might have had something to do with that, but you still have to find a way to win. I’m proud of them for that.

“It might not have been the skill that got us through tonight. It might have been a lot of will that got us this win. As a coach you like to see that.”

Then again it helps when your goalie boards up the net.

Through the first two games of this series, Markstrom had been OK, but he wasn’t the dominant figure who carried the Canucks for much of the regular season. That changed Thursday as the lanky Swede stopped all 27 shots. His best work came late in the second when the Canucks took back-to-back penalties. He was the main reason the Canucks killed off all six Wild power plays.

His teammates, meanwhile, were credited with blocking 22 shots including a mind-boggling seven for Tyler Motte. With the game on the line, they also limited the Wild to seven shots in the final period despite surrendering three power plays.

“I felt good,” said Markstrom. “But overall you look at the sacrifices guys are making, especially on the penalty kill. We blocked a lot of shots today. The guys are sacrificing their bodies and we did a great job of clearing out rebounds and pucks that squirt out. It’s a team shutout for sure.”

The offence, such as it was, was provided by Roussel, Boeser and Pettersson. Roussel, who sat out most of the third period in Game 2 after taking a puck to the head, broke in alone early in the third after Wild defenceman Brad Hunt lost the puck at the blue-line. He beat Wild goalie Alex Stalock with a deke to the backhand.

“Scoring in the playoffs is what you live for,” said the irrepressible Roussel.

Pettersson iced the game with a late goal on the power play, converting a Quinn Hughes feed. Hughes finished with three assists in just under 23 minutes of ice time.

“I don’t think you can put a price on experience and this is really big for the young guys here,” said Hughes, the Calder Trophy finalist. “We’re leaning on the guys who’ve been here. For me I’m trying to stay level-headed no matter what happens and I think I’ve done a good job of that. Our whole team has done a good job of that.”


Brock Boeser, centre, is congratulated by teammates Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson, right, after he opened scoring in the second period against the Minnesota Wild.

Boeser gets party started

After a sleepy opening 30 minutes, Boeser opened the scoring with his second goal in as many games. On a Canucks power play, Boeser shovelled a rebound past Stalock off a Pettersson one-timer after the Canucks had squandered their first three power plays with little effect.

Boeser and Pettersson finished with a goal and an assist as the Canucks power play went two-for-seven.

“I thought we got off to a slow start on the power play,” said Boeser. “As the game went on we felt more comfortable and started getting some pucks to the net and causing some stuff. We have to build off that.”

Both Boeser’s goals in the series have come from going to the front of the net.

“I’m just picking up trash,” he said.

“You want to score this time of year, you can’t just wait for a shot,” said Green. “Sometimes you have to get your nose dirty and find a way to score.”


Roussel gives Stalock a shake

The first period produced two chances for Brandon Sutter, a power play for each team and a lot of aimless, inconsequential play. Roussel livened things up a bit when he took a minor for running Stalock, which the Canucks killed efficiently.

Sutter, in fact, had the best chance when his bid for a shorty was rejected by the Wild goalie.

“We talked about it after the first, that we probably aren’t as sharp as we should be right now,” said Green. “I didn’t think their team was either. It was a choppy game. We talked about finding another 10 per cent and we’re really going to have to grind this one out.”


Ferland’s big return cut short

Micheal Ferland has been deemed unfit to play for the duration of this series. The Canucks winger is reportedly suffering from the same concussion-related issues that have shut him down three times this season. He’s returned to his home in Brandon, Man.

Ferland was the feel-good story of the Canucks’ restart, earning a spot on the third line after playing just 12 games in the regular season. In Game 1, he played 11:41 and engaged in a spirited first-period fight with the Wild’s Marcus Foligno. Ferland also dressed for Game 2 but left the bench late in the first period and didn’t return.

Zack MacEwen took his spot and played mostly on a line with Jay Beagle and Tyler Motte. MacEwen finished with two shots on goal and drew two penalties, including the minor to Jordan Greenway that led to Boeser’s goal.

ewilles@postmedia.com

twitter.com/willesonsports


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