A two-game winning streak is not cause for a party, but it has the Vancouver Canucks feeling better heading into Saturday night’s home clash with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Thanks to Wednesday’s 6-2 road win over the Ottawa Senators, the Canucks have won consecutive games for only the second time this season.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Stay confident, be confident,’ but at the end of the day, when you’re really working and skating and competing on a puck, confidence comes from that,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “Sometimes, you get an ugly goal and all of a sudden feel good about yourself. There’s certain indicators with every player, and they’re not all the same.
“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘Work hard, you’ll get confidence.’ It doesn’t just happen because you want it to happen.”
The Canucks remain at the bottom of the Pacific Division and must build a much longer streak to get within viewing distance of the playoff picture.
“It’s a big game for us and we have a little momentum,” forward Conor Garland said. “But we dug ourselves a hole and have to string some wins together.
“We just got to keep playing well, play fast; we know when we’re good and when we’re not good. It’s a big test, one of the best players in the world with (Sidney) Crosby, so it will be a big match up.”
Garland, acquired via trade form the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason, has certainly been doing his part. He has collected two goals and two assists in the last three games.
“We knew we were getting a crafty player that can create something out of nothing, especially in the offensive zone when he gets the puck,” Green said. “I think he’s come as advertised.”
The Penguins enter Saturday’s matchup having dropped three straight games, including the first two in a five-game road swing.
Their 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday was tied going into the third period.
“We had some good pressure, some good zone time for most of the night. You give them any opening and they take advantage of it. … It’s a fine line,” Crosby said. “We did a lot of good things. It’s too bad we had a couple of those pucks that end up going for two-on-ones. Sometimes they miss the net or puck hits something, but they executed really well and made the most of them.”
Though he might not deserve much of the blame for the performance against the Oilers, goalie Tristan Jarry surrendered four goals, which snapped his run of surrendering two or less in seven straight games — a stretch in which he allowed only five goals.
It would not be a surprise if he bounces back.
Amid their struggles, the Penguins have a couple of key forwards on a tear. Crosby, who returned from offseason surgery and then a bout with COVID-19, is riding a four-game point streak in which he’s collected one goal and five assists. That pales in comparison to Jake Guentzel’s run, an 11-game streak that’s seen him get seven goals and five assists.
Guentzel, who had some early-season struggles of his own, has points in all 11 road games.
“The puck just goes in sometimes like that, and finds you in some different ways,” he said. “I’m just trying to throw pucks on net and get it on the net, and it’s going in right now. So that’s just the game of hockey sometimes — you get the bounces and you just kind of feed off it when they’re going in.”
–Field Level Media