1) The Vancouver Canucks just refuse to lose. The club posted its fifth straight win, seventh in the last eight games, 14th in the past 17 -- and 30th of the season -- on Saturday afternoon beating the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime. The Canucks never trailed, but were forced to work OT after the Isles scored with 26 seconds remaining and their goaltender pulled for an extra attacker. Speaking to the confidence with which the Canucks are playing these days, the team didn't flinch after giving up the late goal. Quinn Hughes scored the winner on the only shot of the extra period just 42 seconds into overtime. It was the first time the Canucks had been to OT since this run of success started with a 5-4 OT victory against Vegas on December 19th.
2) The overtime goal was the second of the game for Hughes who is suddenly holding the hottest stick on the team when it comes to goal-scoring. With two on Saturday, Hughes has three goals in his past two games and four goals in the last four. His first of the day was a seeing eye shot off left wing that somehow found its way past Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss. The second one, however, left no doubt as Hughes carried the puck deep into NYI territory then circled out of the right corner in overtime and moved to the slot. With JT Miller cutting through the middle and taking Brock Nelson with him to provide the perfect screen, Hughes let a shot go that Greiss simply did not see. It beat the Isles goalie high to the blocker side and allowed the Canucks to extend their win streak to five. Hughes was on the ice for three of the Canucks four goals on the afternoon. He and Chris Tanev were terrific defensively, too, with the Canucks controlling 65% of all even-strength shot attempts when they were on the ice together. With his two points on Saturday, Hughes (at the time of this writing) moved past Colorado's Cale Makar into sole possession of the NHL rookie scoring lead with 38 points
3) There was talk at the outset of this road trip that the Canucks had figured things out on home ice, but still had plenty to prove away from Rogers Arena. They haven't been perfect in the first two games of this five-game road trip, but they have found ways to win in both San Jose and Brooklyn. Go back three weeks to back to back victories in Buffalo and Minnesota, the Canucks have won four of their last five games as the visitors with a 4-0 loss in Winnipeg on January 14th standing as the lone setback during that span. Push the time span back even further and the Canucks are 5-3 in eight road games since Christmas. The win at Barclays Center gets the Canucks back to .500 on the road this season at 13-13-1. The club has won 15 games on the road in each of the past two seasons. With 15 road games remaining on the schedule, the team's success away from home certainly looks like it will be one of many areas of improvement this season.
4) JT Miller had a strong afternoon on Long Island. He collected his 20th goal of the season when he opened the scoring just 2:09 into the hockey game. He also picked up an assist (in addition to setting the screen) on the overtime winner. In between those two plays, the veteran winger had three shots on goal on six attempts, registered a pair of hits and won 10 of 14 face-offs. Saturday was Miller's third straight two-point game after scoring twice against St. Louis and setting up a pair of goals in San Jose. He has 4+4=8 on a five game point streak and has been held off the scoresheet just once in the club's last eight games (the shutout loss in Winnipeg). To give you an indication of Miller's importance to the hockey team, Miller was help pointless in five straight games when the team went 1-4 in mid-December. On this 14-3 tear since December 19th, he leads the Canucks with 7+14=21 -- three points more than anyone else. He has at least one point in 12 of the 14 wins during this red-hot stretch.
5) With the overtime victory on Saturday, the Canucks are now 30-18-4 on the season. That keeps them atop the Pacific Division with 30 games to go. This is where the math starts to become crystal clear for the hockey club. The Canucks have 64 points. This is a team on a 14-3 tear right now. If they were to go a pedestrian 15-15 the rest of the way, they would get to 94 points and almost assuredly secure a post-season berth. There is no way eight other teams in the Western Conference are going to finish with more than 94 points. As of this writing, the Canucks have opened a nine-point lead on the teams below the playoff bar. More than that, if the Canucks simply go 15-15 over their remaining 30 games, a team like Winnipeg -- one of the team's struggling to keep pace in the Wild Card chase -- would have to go 20-9-1 to finish ahead of the Canucks. If the Canucks go 20-10 over their final 30 games, the Jets would have to go 25-4-1 to finish ahead of them. How things play out in the Pacific Division is another matter, but as far as their top priority -- securing a playoff berth for the first time since the spring of 2015 -- the Canucks are very much in control of their own destiny and closing on that accomplishment with each passing victory.