Back-to-back wins have given the Vancouver Canucks an opportunity to gain some much-needed confidence.
J.T Miller scored and added two assists to lead Vancouver past the Ottawa Senators 6-2 on Wednesday night. The victory came two days after the Canucks won in Montreal. They finished their five-game road trip with a 2-3-0 record.
“We were due for one of those nights for a long time,” said Bo Horvat, who also scored against Ottawa. “I think we’ve been playing a lot of good hockey. For us to have a night like that where a lot of guys get on the scoresheet definitely gives us confidence.
“But at the same time, we can’t get complacent with that too, and get comfortable and think that that’s going to happen every night.”
Luke Schenn, Tyler Motte, Tanner Pearson and Alex Chiasson chipped in for the Canucks (8-14-2). Quinn Hughes had his first four-point night as he picked up four assists and Thatcher Demko made 19 saves in net.
Adam Gaudette scored in his debut with the Senators (4-15-1) after being claimed on waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks. Brady Tkachuk also scored for Ottawa as Filip Gustavsson stopped 29 shots.
Things seem to be going from bad to worse for the struggling Senators, who are coming off a disastrous November where they went 1-10-1.
Mired in a six-game losing streak, the Senators will have their work cut out for them as they head to Carolina on Thursday to take on the Hurricanes (15-5-1) and host the Colorado Avalanche (11-7-1) on Saturday night.
Senators head coach D.J. Smith admitted earlier this week that this past month has probably been one of the hardest stretches of hockey he’s ever endured as his team not only dealt with the losses, but a COVID-19 outbreak.
Drake Batherson, who was one of 10 Ottawa players who tested positive for COVID-19, played his first game since Nov. 14 on Wednesday.
“As a coach, all you can do is push the guys to go harder tomorrow,” Smith said. “Going in against, you know one of the best teams in the league (in Carolina), and you know what, there’s no better time to steal one and get feeling good about yourself than to go against the hardest working team in the league and put a game together.”
The Senators and Canucks were fairly even through two periods, but a late goal in the second period by Schenn to make it 3-1 gave Vancouver the edge.
The visitors ran with it in the third period, scoring three times as Horvat, Chiasson and Miller found the back of the net.
The Canucks have had their own share of struggles of late, with the win in Montreal snapping a four-game losing skid. Head coach Travis Green said the back-to-back wins will go a long way on getting things back on track.
“When you go into a room after the game and you win like that, your guys are excited, but I haven’t felt a whole lot of letdown from our team,” said Green. “I think they know that they’re right there. They’ve been there.
“We’ve lost so many one-goal games that it’s not like they’ve just been losing and being outplayed. They’ve done a good job keeping their belief and their confidence level high.”
Tkachuk replied for the Senators late in the third, but this was a sad outing by the home team in front of an announced crowd of 10, 571.
Defensively there were far too many mistakes from the Senators once again.
“I think if you go around the locker-room nobody enjoys the time we’re going through right now,” said defenceman Thomas Chabot. “But I mean, it comes back to what I said, at the end of the day, when you when you look on (Thursday’s) game and the little mistakes that we do ourselves and that includes everybody, includes myself as well.
“Those are small mistakes that end up costing you the game, so you’ve got to make sure you’re ready and we’ve got to make sure we stick to our game.”
Vancouver opened the scoring at 1:38 as Connor Garland shook off Senators defenceman Victor Mete behind the net and got the puck out to Pearson alone in front after Gaudette failed to hold him up.
Gaudette made up for the miscue as he scored a power-play goal midway through the period to tie the game 1-1.
Tied 1-1 to start the second, Vancouver forced a turnover deep in the Senators end which led to Motte beating Gustavsson on his glove side.
Notes: Tyler Ennis and Michael DelZotto were a healthy scratch for the Senators, while Brad Hunt and Joho Lammiko did not play for the Canucks.