Canucks 4, Sharks 2: The playoff drum beats on


This three-game win streak has been seen key goals from the likes of Alex Chiasson, Brad Richardson, Jason Dickinson and now Conor Garland.

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The Vancouver Canucks’ playoff dream remains alive after a 4-2 win against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.

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It wasn’t a pretty affair with the Canucks icing another depleted lineup and the Sharks, well the Sharks have some aging stars but they’re just not very good.

The game had plenty of intensity, but also plenty of sloppy play, giving it a weird vibe of pre-season hockey played with a playoff-like chippiness.

Both teams got strong goaltending performances and the Sharks also managed to keep generating shots, sticking around in a game that they had nothing to play for while the Canucks continue to battle for the playoffs.

But the Canucks don’t care how they win at this point, just that they win.

There are nine games left in the Canucks’ season and they have 80 points on the year. With the Vegas Golden Knights also winning — both teams have played the same number of games — the Canucks remain four points back from Vegas, who are also chasing the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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Dallas has the same number of points as Vegas but have played two fewer games. Dallas lost Saturday 3-1 to the New Jersey Devils.

The Canucks have no margin for error and need to keep winning.

They got goals from Jason Dickinson, Conor Garland, Alex Chiasson and an empty-netter by Luke Schenn, while San Jose’s goals were scored by Tomas Hertl and ex-Canuck Nick Bonino.

Here’s what we learned…

Garland needed that

The crafty, feisty winger hadn’t scored in 19 games. You could see his excitement from him about getting a goal to put his team into the lead early in the second period.

He’s picked up nine assists in that stretch.

Even as they top players have been scoring — JT Miller, Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson have all been on fire — the Canucks have still struggled for much of the last month, having a hard time sealing a win because they’ve gotten few contributions from their depth players.

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But this three-game win streak has been seen key goals from the likes of Chiasson, Brad Richardson, Dickinson and now Garland.

It was the first win without a goal from Pettersson, Miller or Horvat since before the all-star break and only the second such win since New Year’s.

A breathless start

The first eight minutes of the game felt like the definition of the “everything is happening” joke that hockey watchers sometimes make, referencing an old Bob Cole comment where the former Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man at one point gave up trying to describe what he was seeing and simply went with the catch-all phrase.

In Saturday’s opening sequence, there was a lot to keep track of.

There was Kyle Burroughs’ high hit on Sharks defenseman Ryan Merkley. The referees didn’t see a penalty and Merkley stumbled off the ice looking dazed.

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While that was happening, Dickinson was racing up the ice on a 2-on-1 and scored a gorgeous goal, deking around Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen to open the scoring.

Three minutes later, Will Lockwood threw a big hit on big Sharks forward Timo Meier. Noah Gregor stood up for his star teammate and dropped the gloves with Lockwood.

Just over a minute later, Vasily Podkolzin cross-checked Meier in the neutral zone and tried to start a fight as well, but the linesmen kept that from happening.

Just over 20 seconds later, JT Miller was called for a slash on the penalty kill, handing San Jose a 5 on 3.

At the beginning of the two-man advantage, Tyler Myers found himself with the puck and in space and led a rush that ended with a good scoring chance for the big winger.

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And then the Sharks scored on the 5-on-3 to tie the game.

Everyone needed a breath.

That’s leadership

The first period was very chippy and Meier seemed to take the aggression into his own hands, knocking Pettersson to the ice on a back check during the power play and later trying to take a run at the Canucks’ star center.

After the whistle, seconds after Meier had just missed Pettersson, Luke Schenn confronted Meier and clearly told him to stop or else.

That’s a good teammate.

chiasson’s run

Alex Chiasson was signed after training camp to help the power play.

I have spent much of the season being useful on the man advantage and being a spare part otherwise.

But with the Canucks missing Nils Höglander, Brock Boeser and Matt Highmore, Chiasson has been handed more ice time and he’s thriving.

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His goal in the third period was his 10th on the season, his fourth at even strength.

He’s scored four goals in his last five games and has added three assists along the way.

A bit of a pre-season look

With the Canucks’ short lineup, the second power-play unit was a mishmash setup.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Garland have played much of the season on the second unit and with how he’s been playing lately, Vasily Podkolzin deserved to be there, too.

But in fairness to Nic Petan and Brad Hunt, they’re hard working guys but they’re not first choices to be the second choice.

Hunt has played some on the second unit this season, but on this night he found himself at the net front, which was unlikely on anyone’s bingo card.

Jovocop

Ed Jovanovski is in town this weekend and was a guest of the Canucks on Saturday night.

I have played 434 games for the Canucks from 1999 to 2006 and was a fan favorite the whole time.

The crowd roared its approval and rose to their feet when he appeared on the big screen during the second period.

“It was very nice. It’s good to be back,” he told Postmedia.

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NEXT GAME

tuesday

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks

7 pm, Roger’s Arena. TV: Sportsnet. Radio: Sportsnet 650.


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