Jacob Markstrom made it sound like hitting a career high with 49 saves on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings was really no big deal.
“I feel like if you look at it again, they throw a lot of pucks at net,” said Markstrom after the Vancouver Canucks opened their post-Christmas schedule with a 3-2 win over the Kings at Rogers Arena. “There were some rebounds where they got a couple of whacks after it afterwards where maybe I could have held the first puck. When I get the win, it’s way easier to go through video afterward.”
The win was the fourth in a row for the Canucks and the 100th of his career for Markstrom, who was making his ninth consecutive start since Dec. 10. His previous high was 47 saves in a 2-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Mar. 22, 2016.
Elias Pettersson’s third-period goal stood up as his fourth game-winner of the season, while Jake Virtanen and Tyler Motte also scored for Vancouver (20-15-4).
“He stood on his head again today,” said Pettersson about Markstrom. “We didn’t have our best game. We made a lot of turnovers. That’s why you have a good goalie, and he got us the win.”
“The puck wasn’t our friend tonight, that’s for sure,” said Canucks coach Travis Green. “We fought the puck tonight.”
“I like how our guys found a way. Our goalie gave us a hell of a game and that’s a team that shoots the puck a lot. They go to the net. For being off, we had to get into some physical battles, which is also hard. To come out of this game with two points is big for our group.”
Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli scored for Los Angeles (16-21-4), which was playing its second game in as many nights after a 3-2 overtime win in San Jose on Friday.
“We’re not happy with the end result but I also think that, if we play games like that, we’re going to win the majority of them,” said Kopitar. “The result is not what we want them to be, but we should be encouraged about our game.
“Going down two again tonight – it’s not like we played a bad period. We just made a couple mistakes. That’s going to happen sometimes.”
Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for the Kings.
The Kings were 0 for 3 on the power play, while the Canucks were 0 for 1. It was the first time in six games that Vancouver failed to score with the man advantage.
In their first game action after a four-day holiday break, the Canucks looked sluggish off the opening faceoff. Markstrom kept it scoreless as the Kings recorded the first nine shots of the game, looking especially sharp as he stopped Adrian Kempe on a give-and-go with Blake Lizotte, four minutes in.
Virtanen got Vancouver on the board with 9:38 left to play in the first. He corralled a big rebound off his own shot near the right boards and fired the puck high over an outstretched Quick.
Motte doubled Vancouver’s lead with 28 seconds left to play in the opening frame, following up a Pettersson rush and rifling a snap shot to the far side over Quick’s glove.
The Kings continued to pressure in the second period, with Markstrom’s biggest save coming off a Toffoli breakaway. On the 25th Los Angeles shot of the game, with 8:08 left in the middle frame, Kings captain Kopitar got his team on the scoreboard. He poked a loose puck between the post and Markstrom’s outstretched right foot for his team-leading 15th goal of the year.
Shots after two periods were 30-17 for Los Angeles.
The Kings tied the game 2-2 at the 6:46 mark of the third period, when Toffoli found a loose puck just outside the Vancouver crease.
“Dermie (Kurtis MacDermid) got the shot through and Kopi kind of got in front and the puck was just kind of sitting out there for me,” said Toffoli of his 10th goal of the year.
It took Vancouver just 19 seconds to reply, with J.T. Miller feeding Pettersson off the rush for his 18th goal of the year. That was enough, as Markstrom stopped 20-of-21 shots in the third.
“We’ve talked a lot in here about your best players scoring when you need them,” said Green. “We needed one tonight, and they got it for us.”
The Canucks are now 3-0-0 against the Kings so far this season and finish their holiday homestand with a 4-1-0 record. Saturday’s win gives Vancouver 44 points, tying them with the Edmonton Oilers for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Canucks play another important divisional game on the road on Sunday against the Calgary Flames (20-15-5).
Markstrom didn’t rule out suiting up again.
“If they want me to play, I’ll play,” he said. “I love playing hockey and I’ve been playing a lot of hockey lately too, even before the break with Demmer (Thatcher Demko) out. Demmer’s looking great in practice right now, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Demko rejoined the team just before the Christmas break after missing six games due to a concussion.
Saturday’s win is Vancouver’s fourth in a row, its second-such streak of the year. The first began against the Kings in the Canucks’ first home game of the season, on Oct. 9.
NOTES: Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies cranked up the siren at Rogers Arena to start the game; New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton, from Maple Ridge, B.C., was also on hand... The Canucks wore their commemorative 50th anniversary `stick in rink’ jerseys...Canucks defenceman Jordie Benn was a healthy scratch for the second-straight game, while Oscar Fantenberg dressed for his 100th career NHL game... The Kings are 4-2-2 in their past eight road games. They’ll return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.