1) Pray for Petey: Star rookie Elias Pettersson was injured five minutes into the third period when he was slammed to the ice by Panthers defenceman Michael Matheson. The play came moments after Pettersson had turned Matheson inside out in the Panthers zone and looked to be an attempt at payback on the blueliner's part. Matheson hit Pettersson into the boards and then threw him to the ice and it appeared the Canuck forward hit his head on the ice. A dazed Pettersson laid on the ice briefly before attempting to get back to his feet. Initially he stumbled and was aided by one of the on-ice officials before being tended to by the Canucks training staff. He left the game, headed to the locker room and did not return. A minute later, Bo Horvat broke a 2-2 tie and scored what turned out to be the winning goal. However, there was no attempt by any Canuck to go after Matheson in any way over the final 15 minutes of the contest. After the game, Travis Green had no update on Pettersson's condition and did not want to discuss the lack of physical pushback. These teams meet again on January 13th in Vancouver.
2) The Pettersson effect: The Canucks have scored at least three goals in all five of the games they've played so far this season. They did not score three-plus in a single five-game stretch at any point last season. Much of that is because of Pettersson who has a team-high five goals and eight points. Beyond those numbers, though, his importance to the team can be measured in other ways. The kid has scored the first Canucks goal of the game in four of his first five NHL contests. When this team needs a spark, he has provided it almost every single night. He opened the scoring in his NHL debut and tied the game at 1-1 in Calgary, Tampa and in Florida. The Canucks have surrendered the first goal of the game in four straight, but in three of those outings, Pettersson has brought them back to level terms and in both games in the state of Florida the Canucks went on to win. If they fall behind 2-0 in any of those games, the Canucks very likely don't have more wins than losses at this stage of the season.
3) Ride the hot hand: For the second straight game, Anders Nilsson gave the Canucks the kind of goaltending needed to win hockey games. He wasn't spectacular in Florida on Saturday, but he didn't have to be. He simply made the saves he was supposed to make and looked composed in the final few minutes while protecting the 3-2 lead. In two games in the Sunshine State, Nilsson sparkled stopping 57 of 60 shots and gave up no third period goals as the Canucks pushed to victory. He has won more games in the past 72 hours than he did over the final five months of last season. And he's earned the opportunity to keep playing. The Canucks have a little momentum for the first time this season and Nilsson's steady presence is one of the reasons why. Let him face the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
4) Special forces: The Canucks won the special teams battle on Saturday and won the game. The team went 1/4 on the power play while killing off all five Florida opportunities with the man-advantage. Last Saturday in Calgary, the Canucks got torched for three goals while short-handed. Those are the only power play goals the team has surrendered this season. The penalty killers have been perfect since their stop at the Saddledome successfully thwarting a pair of Carolina power plays, five in Tampa and five more in Florida. Meanwhile, the power play connected for the fifth time this season when Pettersson scored with an absolute laser over the glove hand of James Reimer with 5:12 remaining in the second period. The Canucks are now 5/19 (26.3%) with the man-advantage in the early going this season. Obviously that will be put to the test if Pettersson is out for any length of time.
5) Dogged by injuries: On Saturday, the Canucks entered the night completely healthy. That didn't last long. With the return to the lineup of Antoine Roussel, the team had no one in sick bay. Now all eyes are on Elias Pettersson. But Jay Beagle left Saturday's game, too. He appeared to block a Mike Hoffman shot with his forearm with about three minutes to play. He was clearly in pain, but finished his shift before heading down the tunnel to the room. The Canucks finished the night down two centres and leaned on Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter to see the game through. Green had no update on Beagle after the game. He played 16:42 on the night registering a shot, two hits and winning 8 of 15 face-offs.
6) There's a discussion to be had about the value of a standings point in mid-October for a non-playoff team. The game was tied 2-2 at the time of the Pettersson injury. A minute later, the Canucks took a 3-2 lead. If someone would have gone after Matheson and received a penalty, the Canucks still would have had the chance to kill it off. Their penalty killing was good on Saturday. Even if Florida would have scored, there's a strong possibility that the game would have gone into overtime and the Canucks would have secured at the very least a single standings point. And they'd still have a chance to collect the bonus point. So there was a scenario whereby they could have gained a measure of revenge and still get both points. There was a scenario where they could have made a statement and taken just one point. The rematch in mid-January is Game 47 of the season. Who knows what the Canucks season looks like by then? Would it not have been worth risking perhaps a single standings point to send a message to Matheson, the Florida Panthers and the entire league? It seems standing up for Pettersson is worth a single point in the standings.