1) On balance, the Vancouver Canucks weren't the better team through 65 minutes of play on Saturday night. But they got the better result in a 3-2 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers. While the Canucks never trailed, they were hanging on in the third period and were a Travis Sanheim goal post away from a last minute loss in regulation time. But there will be nights over the course of an 82-game schedule when a team isn't at its best, but still has a chance to secure two points. It was important that the Canucks found a way to grind out the result. They let a 2-1 third period lead get away on opening night in Edmonton. They couldn't have that happen for a second time in four outings in the early going this season. That may have inflicted psychological damage that would be difficult to undo. Teams play so many tight games in today's NHL that it's imperative to learn how to come out on top in these types of tests. Although outshot 14-6 in the third period, the Canucks bent but ultimately did not break and that allowed them to collect the bonus point awarded in the shootout.
2) Overshadowed by a struggle to score in Alberta and the hoopla that accompanied Wednesday's home opener, Jacob Markstrom has been very solid in his first four outings. He allowed three goals in Edmonton on opening night and has held the past three opponents to just two goals apiece. When your team allows two in the NHL, you stand a very good chance of securing points. It won't always happen (see last Saturday in Calgary when the Canucks didn't score), but Markstrom was the first star on Saturday and he earned it with a couple of spectacular saves. This is a big year for Markstrom. He turns 30 in January. He wants to prove that the final four months of last season were not a mirage -- and it's a contract year. So there is plenty of motivation every time he steps on the ice. The big Swede has been a huge part of a Canucks penalty kill that is 11 for 12 on the season. He has likely benefited from a relaxed schedule that has seen the Canucks play Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday giving him plenty of rest between starts to work with Ian Clark and remain at the top of his game. The schedule picks up starting on Tuesday night against Detroit. It's likely Markstrom will get that start giving the team a chance to move above .500 for the first time this season.
3) Brock Boeser scored his first goal of the season potting a rebound behind Carter Hart five minutes into the hockey game. It was his first goal since signing his contract extension at the tail end of training camp. Due to the late signing and a concussion that curtailed his exhibition play, Boeser only skated in parts of two preseason games. He didn't find the back of the net in either of those and hadn't scored through the team's first three games on the schedule. It was nothing to worry about, but you can't score 30 -- or more -- without the first one and Boeser doesn't have to wonder any longer when that first one will come. He had looked dangerous at times. He had six shots on goal in Calgary last Saturday, but couldn't find the mark. He had a great third period chance on Wednesday but was unable to beat Jonathan Quick. Against the Flyers, Boeser had three shots on goal and a team high nine attempts. That's an encouraging sign. For whatever reason, he has feasted on Philadelphia scoring six career goals in just five meetings. He'll get a chance to add to those totals when the teams meet again next month at Wells Fargo Center. Now that he has his first, who knows how many goals Boeser will have by then.
4) Tanner Pearson continues to be a thoroughly professional goal scorer for the Vancouver Canucks. The veteran winger bagged his second goal of the season on a deft deflection to put the team up 2-1 early in the second period. He then looked supremely confident as the third Canuck shooter in the shootout waiting for Carter Hart to open up and slipping the puck between his pads. Pearson now has 11 goals in 23 games since coming over from Pittsburgh. Both his goals this season have come on deflections which speaks to Pearson's willingness and ability to get to the front of the net and score goals the Canucks feel they haven't scored enough of in recent years. Skating on a line with Bo Horvat and Josh Leivo -- and with a bump from some penalty killing duty -- Pearson played a season-high 19:30 on Saturday night and had four shots on goal. While Micheal Ferland struggles to find his form, Pearson seems like a solid bet to remain in a top six role on the hockey club. Even more so, if he continues to score the way he has since arriving from Pittsburgh at last year's trade deadline. Plus, keep in mind that Bo Horvat with 0+1=1 through the first four games is bound to pick up his scoring pace soon which should only help Pearson's productivity.
5) On December 10th last season, Chris Tanev sat with no goals and three assists. On Saturday night, the veteran blueliner set up both Vancouver goals. That followed his first goal of the season on Wednesday against LA. So he's two months ahead of his scoring pace from last season. Points aren't likely to flow for Tanev the way they have this week. But he's healthy, he looks confident in the early going this season playing alongside rookie Quinn Hughes and he's part of a Canucks defense corps that has chipped in quite nicely through the first four games. Last season, the Canucks were among the lowest scoring defenses in the NHL with 27+108=135 or 1.64 points per game. It's remarkably early this season -- probably too early to draw conclusions -- but with Tanev's two points against the Flyers, the Canucks blueline has contributed 4+6=10 or 2.5 points per game. Again, it's awfully early, but it's a step in the right direction to be sure. And it's a refreshing change to be talking about Chris Tanev's point totals rather than the number of games missed due to injury.