SEATTLE—After a day full of obstacles—including traveling the morning of the game and a series of false positive COVID-19 tests—the Vancouver Canucks savored getting the best of their new Pacific Northwest rivals again.
Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander scored first-period goals, Tyler Motte and Conor Garland scored in the third period, and the Vancouver Canucks stayed hot with a 5–2 win over the Seattle Kraken on Saturday night.
The Canucks traveled to Seattle on Saturday morning, but had a handful of players return positive COVID-19 tests. After a series of retests, it was determined they were false positives and the Canucks were cleared to play.
“The whole day was crazy. I used to always put my lineup together in the morning and when you have so many changes potentially to make, it gets a little wild,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Tanner Pearson added an empty-net goal in the closing minutes and Vancouver improved to 8-0-1 since Boudreau took over as coach last month.
The Canucks have won both games in Seattle against its new Pacific Northwest rival this season. The Kraken were scheduled to play in Vancouver earlier this week, but that game was postponed.
Pearson had a fight in the first period, and a goal and assist in the third to cap the long and stressful day.
“It’s definitely a mental grind…” Pearson said. “They want to get games in, but personally you don’t know if you’re going to test positive or not.”
The Kraken lost their fifth straight and eighth in the past nine games. Seattle also has not won at home since Dec. 3 when it beat Edmonton.
“You’ve gotta keep battling,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the bottom line. We were our worst enemy in a couple of areas tonight.”
Podkolzin scored at 8:53 to give the Canucks an early lead, followed by Hoglander’s power-play goal later in the period for a 2–0 advantage.
Motte made it 3–1 at 4:46 of the third period with his third goal of the season, and Garland provided a quick answer after Will Borgen pulled Seattle to 3–2 midway through the period.
Thatcher Demko was terrific on Oct. 23 when the Canucks beat the Kraken in their first home game in franchise history. He made 30 saves this time, and Vancouver’s defense limited the number of dangerous chances for Seattle.
“It was the best first period I think we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Boudreau said. “So it makes life a lot easier when you get lead on a team that hasn’t come back too often.”
Calle Jarnkrok scored midway through the second period for Seattle and Borgen scored his first NHL goal midway through the third to pull Seattle within one. Jordan Eberle beat Demko but hit the crossbar on a late power play for Seattle.
One of Seattle’s problems was defensive mistakes, and the Canucks capitalized on them. The goals by Podkolzin and Motte both came off turnovers by Borgen in Seattle’s defensive zone. Garland’s goal came less than a minute after Borgen scored in part because Mark Giordano lost his stick after colliding with teammate Jamie Oleksiak behind the Seattle goal.
Philipp Grubauer made 30 saves for Seattle.
Seattle got a boost with the return of forward Ryan Donato from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols on Saturday, but defenseman Jeremy Luzon was added to the protocols. Defenseman Vince Dunn also came out of the protocols, but was not activated to play. Seattle has two in protocol.
Vancouver thought it was clear, announcing after the morning skate there weren’t any additions to its COVID-19 protocols. But before the game, the Canucks said forward Jason Dickinson had been added to the protocol list. Vancouver now has four in protocols.
Vancouver’s J.T. Miller has a point in nine straight games after getting an assist on Pearson’s late goal. Seattle F Jaden Schwartz was scratched for a second straight game due to an upper body injury. Garland had one goal and one assist in the first matchup against Seattle in October. Jarnkrok has a point in three straight games and has five points over that three-game span.
Canucks: Off for a week, and will host Ottawa next Saturday.
Kraken: Off until Thursday, when they host Ottawa.
By Tim Booth