1) After leaving Philadelphia and Washington empty-handed earlier in the week, the Canucks at least salvaged something from their stop in Chicago. After being down 2-0 in the first period and trailing 3-2 with under two minutes to play in the third period, it looked like they were headed to their third consecutive one-goal loss in regulation time. Instead, they lost by a goal, but at least got the game to overtime and picked up a single point for the efforts. The Canucks finished their road trip 1-2-1 picking up three of a possible eight points along the way. They had two terrific chances to win the game in overtime -- first a Jake Virtanen rebound skipped over the stick of a snakebitten Bo Horvat and later Elias Pettersson walked in all alone after taking a headman pass from goalie Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks couldn't convert at the Chicago end and the Hawks made them pay when Jonathan Toews walked past Chris Tanev and beat Markstrom for the winner 3:21 into the extra session. After starting the season 3-0 in games settled in OT, the Canucks have won just two of their last six trips to the 3-on-3 session. Overtime is about creating chances and finishing them. The Canucks had their opportunities, but it was the Blackhawks who capitalized on theirs and in the process ran their win streak to six straight.
2) Chris Tanev played too much in overtime. He played three of five shifts totalling 1:52 of the 3:21 extra period. And it wasn't that he was fatigued on the game winner. That's not the suggestion about his workload. It's just the idea of Chris Tanev as the workhorse in a session that is about time and space and speed and skill doesn't make a lot of sense. At least it gives the appearance -- one we've seen in the past -- of the Canucks being too conservative in overtime. Both Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher push the pace and, frankly, even Derrick Pouliot represents the idea of offense more than Tanev does. Overtime should be about trying to win the game rather than preserve the tie and hope for a shootout (where the Canucks are 1-3 on the season). Usually, Alex Edler would eat up the most minutes in OT, but he's not in the line-up and so the Canucks turned, instead, to Tanev. And further to the conservative approach, Elias Pettersson and Brandon Sutter had the same number of shifts in overtime (one each). Had Pettersson and Brock Boeser started OT, they would likely have a second shift and another chance to win the game. Instead, Pettersson only saw the ice once in overtime and that wasn't enough.
3) Pettersson earned his team the single point with his power play blast with 1:52 remaining and Jacob Markstrom on the bench giving the Canucks a 6-on-4 advantage. It's been a while since he has been able to pull the trigger with the big shot from the right-wing face-off dot. His last power play goal was a similar looking blast in Ottawa on January 2nd when he scored his first NHL hattrick. It's a goal Pettersson scored earlier in the season from the same spot against Montreal and Winnipeg. With the power play showing very little power at all over the past month, the Canucks have to do whatever they can to find Pettersson in his spot. If he gets his shot away cleanly, he's a threat to score every time. And even if he doesn't score, that shot can -- and will -- produce rebounds. It looked for much of the night Thursday like a lifeless power play was again going to be one of the key takeaways from the hockey game. The Hawks won the special teams battle and the game, but Pettersson offered up hope that the Canucks power play can still be productive. They just have to work on their puck movement to free him up in his spot to get that lethal one-timer away far more often.
4) The Canucks were well-aware coming into the game that the Blackhawks had the best power in the league since Christmas. The players and head coach Travis Green talked about it after the morning skate. So it was far from ideal to spot the Hawks a two-man advantage for 37 seconds in the opening period and another for 1:15 midway through the second period. The first one had veterans -- and key penalty killers -- Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter in the box. Predictably, the Hawks cashed in on both ends of the power play to grab a 2-0 lead. Chicago was active with players and the puck in constant motion drawing the Canucks out of their defensive positions. And they shot the puck -- finishing the night with 11 power play shots on goal. The Canucks managed to survive the second two-man advantage, but still walked away from the game giving up a pair of goals as the Hawks finished the night 2/5 with the man-advantage which is about their average (40%) since the holiday break. It was a dangerous way for the Canucks to play and they got torched by a confident power play that is giving the Hawks all sorts of momentum in hockey games.
5) From the moment Michael DiPietro was recalled on an emergency basis people have wondered if he would get the chance to see NHL action. For a few moments in the first period, it looked like he might. With the Canucks on a power play, Jonathan Toews fired a rising slap shot off left wing that caught Jacob Markstrom up around the collarbone. It felled the big Canucks netminder who stayed down on all fours to collect himself as play moved up ice. Markstrom struggled to his feet and stayed in the game until the next whistle at which point he skated to the Canucks bench to get checked over by athletic therapist Jon Sanderson. Markstrom returned to the net and finished the game so DiPietro's moment will have to wait, but it drove home the point that DiPietro is just one Markstrom injury away from being thrust into the spotlight. Markstrom has now made six straight starts and has been in net for 12 of the Canucks last 13 games since the start of January. He's surely going to get the starts against Calgary and San Jose at home on Saturday and Monday, but you do have to wonder if he'll require a break by the time the Canucks go out on the road again and start a three-game in four night California road trip in Anaheim next Wednesday night. By then it will be eight straight starts and 14 of 15 games in net. The games in Washington and Chicago are just the second time since the start of December that Markstrom has surrendered more than two goals in back to back outings.