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Alex Chiasson, centre, of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with teammates J.T. Miller, left, and Vasily Podkolzin after scoring a goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period. The Canucks won 7-1 at Rogers Arena on April 14, 2022 in Vancouver.Rich Lam/Getty Images

As he hit another career high Thursday, J.T. Miller’s focus was firmly set on another goal – dragging the Vancouver Canucks into the playoffs.

The high-flying forward tallied five assists as the Canucks dismantled the struggling Arizona Coyotes 7-1 on Thursday.

The five-point night was a career high for Miller, who leads Vancouver in scoring with 91 points (29 goals, 62 assists) on the season.

“I try to feel like I’m never satisfied,” he said. “I’ve got an amazing opportunity since I’ve been here, I’ve got to play in every situation, which is something I’ve worked for my whole career.

“But that being said, it doesn’t really mean (much) to me if we don’t play in the playoffs. I really just want to play in the playoffs because when you score in the playoffs that’s when it means a lot.”

Thursday’s result extended Vancouver’s win streak to five straight games and preserved the team’s faint hopes of securing a playoff position. The Canucks (37-28-10) sit five points below the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars, who hold the two Western Conference wild-card spots.

Ten different Canucks players got on the scoresheet Thursday, with rookie Vasily Podkolzin netting two goals and an assist, Alex Chiasson scoring twice, and Sheldon Dries, Elias Pettersson and Conor Garland all contributing a goal apiece. Quinn Hughes notched three helpers.

Andrew Ladd replied for the Coyotes (22-47-5), who lost their fifth straight.

Despite the final score, Arizona head coach Andre Tourigny said he liked the way his group played in the third period.

“I think we showed more pride in the third period,” he said. “For me, that’s our team. That’s the way we have to fight. We talked about it before the game and we got better on that, so that’s a positive.”

It was a relatively quiet night in net for Thatcher Demko, who made 21 saves for the win.

Arizona’s Karel Vejmelka stopped 16 of 22 shots before being replaced by Harri Sateri to start the third period. Sateri made four saves in relief.

It was the third game in a row that Vejmelka gave up six goals.

“NHL for me is full of slumps,” Tourigny said of the netminder. “You need to be able to react to a slump. If you cannot get out of a slump in the NHL, you’re in trouble. You will be a streaky player. NHL is not about that. It’s about being good every day. It’s about consistency.

Vancouver came into the third with a dominant lead and continued to run up the score with Chiasson netting his second tally of the night midway through the period.

Miller dished a slick pass to the veteran forward and he blasted a one-timer past Sateri stick side at the 8:26 mark for his 12th goal of the year.

“I’ve been getting a really good opportunity here to showcase what I can do,” Chiasson said. “Obviously it feels like I’m being able to find my spots on the ice, playing with good players. Hopefully keep this thing going forward, one game at a time.”

Chiasson has been “a pro all year” for the Canucks, said head coach Bruce Boudreau, even through a stretch of three or four games where he was a healthy scratch.

“He never once complained, he just came to work,” Boudreau said. “To see things start to go well for him, you can only be really happy for the guy. And we need it. Guys are getting injured left, right and centre and these guys are stepping up. That’s part of the reason we’re still hanging in this thing.”

Podkolzin buried his second goal of the night with 26.6 seconds left in the middle frame, blasting a one-timer from the faceoff circle to give the Canucks a 6-1 lead.

Garland put away the home side’s fifth of the night 15:39 into the period, finding space between Vejmelka and his post with a wrist shot from the hash marks.

Just 14 seconds earlier, Podkolzin found the back of the net for Vancouver’s third power-play goal of the game after Kyle Capobianco was called for tripping.

Podkolzin pulled the puck across the top of the crease and sent a backhand past Vejmelka while falling to the ice for his 12th goal of the campaign.

Arizona got on the board midway through the second when Kessel sent a shot soaring toward the Vancouver net from the top of the faceoff circle. Demko made the stop but the puck landed at his pads and Ladd shovelled it in over the goal-line to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Pettersson added to the Canucks’ cushion 4:29 into the middle frame after the Coyotes were called for too many men.

The Swedish star blasted a one-timer from inside the faceoff circle for his 27th goal of the season.

Vancouver lost a key piece early in the second period when Bo Horvat took a shot from Anton Stralman off the inside of his right ankle. He went directly to the locker-room and did not return to the game.

Boudreau said he thinks the Canucks captain will be OK and he’s hoping to have him in the lineup on Monday when Vancouver hosts the Dallas Stars.

Horvat came into the matchup riding a five-game point streak where he amassed five goals and three assists.

The Canucks closed out the first with a 2-0 lead.

Arizona’s J.J. Moser was called for tripping, giving Vancouver its second man advantage of the night.

With just seconds left in the power play, Brad Hunt launched a rocket from the top of the slot and Dries tipped it in for his first goal in a Canucks jersey.

Vancouver went 3-for-4 on the power play Thursday and Arizona was 1-for-2.

Chiasson opened the scoring 10:19 into the game, deflected in a puck from Miller.

The marker extended his point streak to five games, with four goals and four assists across the stretch.


The Coyotes will take on the Flames in Calgary on Saturday ... Garland is on a five-game point streak with two goals and five assists ... The Canucks swept the three-game season series between the two sides.