The owner of the Vancouver Canucks said Saturday he has no intention of firing general manager Jim Benning or coach Travis Green.
“I have full confidence in Jim, Travis and this group,” Francesco Aquilini wrote on Twitter. “I have no plans to make changes.”
The comments appeared before the Canucks ended a six-game losing streak with a 3-1 win against the Calgary Flames. Vancouver (7-11-0) is next-to-last in the Scotia North Division and has played the most games in the NHL.
“Of course I’m disappointed by our poor start, but the last thing we’re going to do is panic,” Aquilini wrote. “We’ve been better in recent games and I believe we’ll continue to improve.”
Recent media reports suggested Aquilini might be considering those changes.
“Contrary to what you may have read or heard, we’re sticking to the path we’re on: Building on our core of young talent,” Aquilini wrote. “Progression is not always a straight line. There is no easy fix, only patience, commitment and hard work.”
Vancouver captain Bo Horvat this week addressed the idea that the Canucks were playing poorly because they lost teammates this offseason, including goalie Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Christopher Tanev to the Flames.
“Obviously it is tough to see guys go, but at the same time you’ve got to move on and play for the team you are playing for,” Horvat said. “You can’t dwell on anything, and we have a great group of guys here and a lot of good hockey players and because we lost guys doesn’t mean we are trying to play bad.
“We all want to win here, and we all want to do well, so I don’t think that’s a theory at all.”
Green’s contract expires after this season (his fourth), and Horvat also pushed back against the idea that Green not having an extension in place is a cause for their season so far.
“That makes no difference to us,” Horvat said. “We all really like ‘Greener’ as a coach, and he’s done a heck of a job with our group. Obviously we’d love to see him stay and be a part of the Vancouver Canucks, but at the same time [we] have to worry about winning hockey games.”
Vancouver lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games in the Western Conference Second Round last season, one game from advancing to the conference final.
Aquilini praised the NHL Draft picks of forwards Brock Boeser (No. 23, 2015) and Elias Pettersson (No. 5, 2017) and defenseman Quinn Hughes (No. 7, 2018), and the outlook for rookie forwards Nils Hoglander (No. 40, 2019) and Vasily Podkolzin (No. 10, 2019).
“This has been a unique year for everyone,” Aquilini wrote. “Roster changes, very little training camp, no preseason, and just a few practice days. It takes time for new players to fit in and a new group chemistry to take hold, both on and off the ice.”
Philipp Kurashev scores in shootout as Blackhawks beat Lightning – Sportsnet.ca
Alex DeBrincat scored twice and Dominik Kubalik added a goal in regulation for the Blackhawks, who lost their first three games to the Lightning this season. Malcolm Subban made 39 saves, plus three more in the shootout.
“We were resilient tonight,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We gritted it out, whether it’s the saves we got or the penalty kills. We blocked a lot of shots and got clears when we needed to.”
Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn and Ryan McDonough scored for the Lightning, and Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 shots.
Chicago improved to 4-1-1 in its past six games and snapped Tampa Bay’s six-game winning streak. On Thursday night, the Lightning won 3-2 in overtime on Alex Killorn’s buzzer-beating goal.
“They were probably better last night, and we win,” Tampa Bay coach John Cooper said. “Both teams probably know who was a little better tonight, and they end up winning. It comes out even.”
McDonough made it 3-2 off a big rebound 3:20 into the third period, jumping on Killorn’s drive and beating Subban from 10 feet.
Kubalik tied it 1:40 later by poking home the fluttering shot of defenceman Duncan Keith for his fourth goal in six games.
Overtime started with a flurry of chances for both teams. McElhinney stopped Patrick Kane on a pair breakaways in the first two minutes, and Tampa Bay also had several odd-man chances. Subban held strong despite a hard collision with Steven Stamkos, then denied Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Stamkos in the shootout.
“We gave up a lot of chances, a lot of breakaways he stopped, and he’s the reason we won,” DeBrincat said.
Tampa Bay scored twice in the first 11 minutes, only to see Chicago tie it early in the second period.
Cirelli got behind Keith and rebounded Point’s shot at 2:51 for his third goal in four games. Killorn made it 2-0 at 10:27 with a power-play goal, tipping Hedman’s shot from the high slot.
DeBrincat scored less than three minutes later. The 100th goal of his NHL career was a power-play goal, a wrist shot from the left circle with Blake Coleman off for hooking.
DeBrincat, who had 18 goals in 70 games last season, scored his 14th in 21 games this year 7:08 into the second period, parking low in the left circle before one-timing a pass from Kane to tie it.
“This is a tough challenge,” McDonough said of the three-game series with Chicago. “We’ve got one more crack at them in a couple of days and have to take advantage of it.”
Blackhawks defenceman Calvin DeHaan crumpled to the ice after blocking Ondrej Palat’s snapshot 2:12 into the final period and eventually limped to the bench. He went to the locker room and did not return.
Tampa Bay played only two overtime games in its first 20 contests but were taken to overtime for the second game in two nights by the Blackhawks, running their season total to four. Columbus and Carolina were the other teams to force the Lightning past 60 minutes, and only Carolina scored a victory.
Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook received a video tribute on the scoreboard Friday night, hours after he announced his retirement because of injuries, saying his right hip wouldn’t heal enough to allow him to play following surgery. Seabrook was a key part of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup winning teams in 2010, 2013 and 2015, as well as Canada’s 2010 Olympic champions.
Tampa Bay and Chicago conclude their three-game series on Sunday at United Center.
Vasilevskiy shutout streak ends for Lightning against Blackhawks – NHL.com
Andrei Vasilevskiy had his shutout streak ended at 228:09 when the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie allowed a shorthanded goal in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
Ryan Caprenter scored at 7:24 to deny Vasilevskiy a fourth straight shutout.
Vasilevskiy broke the Lightning record of 202:46, which was set by John Grahame in 2005-06.
Brian Boucher holds the modern-era NHL records for most consecutive shutouts (five) and longest streak without allowing a goal (332:01), set from Dec. 22, 2003 through Jan. 11, 2004, with five straight shutouts from Dec. 31-Jan. 9 for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Vasilevskiy had the 15th streak of three straight shutouts in the NHL since Boucher had five. Ilya Bryzgalov has the second-longest streak of the modern era, 249:43 with the Philadelphia Flyers from March 6-15, 2012. The NHL recognizes the modern era as beginning with the 1943-44 season, when the center red line was introduced.
“A lot of guys have done back to back (shutouts) and you feel good, it feels awesome and you know your stats are reflecting it,” Boucher said this week. “But once you get halfway through two and a half (games) you start to feel like, ‘Man, I’ve got something cooking here.’ You start to feel that you might not get beat. How long that lasts is the big question, but the confidence you feel when you have this going is just something you don’t feel all the time. It’s just weird, hard to describe. You start to almost feel like you’re superhuman.”
Vasilevskiy made 73 saves in his three straight shutouts and 108 in the shutout streak of more than 11 periods. He hadn’t allowed a goal since Feb. 22, when Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast scored on a power play at 19:15 of the second period.
Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in a 3-0 win against the Hurricanes on Feb. 24, 20 saves in a 5-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 27, and 28 saves in a 2-0 win against the Stars on Tuesday.
He was 13-3-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average, .942 save percentage and three shutouts entering Thursday.
“You can give him the first, second and third (place) votes for the Vezina (Trophy),” Boucher said of the award for best NHL goalie. “Just from a pure talent standpoint he is the best goalie in the League. Whether he wins the Vezina or not, nobody matches up to his capabilities in net. No chance. Some people have talent and never live up to the expectations. He’s living up to the expectations. We’re not clamoring for more. We’re wondering if he can get more, but we’re not clamoring for it. We see greatness.”
THREE THINGS: Up & Down, By a Hair and Back for More – BlueJackets.com
The Blackhawks looked poised to take a statement win at the United Center after 40 minutes of play, but managed a point in a frustrating overtime loss to the defending-champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
“Frustrating result because I thought we played really, really well for 48-50 minutes of the game,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We weren’t ready to match the urgency, the desperation (early in the third)… it’s tough because we don’t get paid off for how we played for most of that game, and that hurts you.”
Here are three takeaways from the overtime loss:
UP AND DOWN
After a scoreless opening frame, the Blackhawks looked in firm control of the game in the second period, with goals from Ryan Carpenter and Alex DeBrincat to take a 2-0 lead just past the halfway point of the game.
A well-expected push from the Lightning to start the third saw the visitors tie things up just 2:55 into the frame, starting with a shorthanded goal off an Anthony Cirelli deflection in front and soon followed by a piece of Steven Stamkos skill off a faceoff win.
Chicago stabilized for the remainder of regulation, eventually taking a point as 60 minutes wouldn’t solve the third meeting between the two teams.
“I thought we played well most of the game,” said DeBrincat. “Start of the third period, we let that one up on the power play, but I thought the last 10 was pretty good.”
“We played really well the first two periods. We played really solid hockey, just the way we’re supposed to play and the way we can play our best,” Lankinen said. “They got a deflection goal, a little bounce (on) the first one, probably gained some momentum out of that. Just a funny bounce the second one too, kind of. I think that’s just hockey. Momentum swings happen. We showed some character though and played well at the end of the third. Pushed the momentum in their end and had some really good chances. Even in overtime, we had a couple good chances, but it was just not our night tonight.”
BY A HAIR
After a back-and-forth overtime frame with a combined eight shots on goal and a touch of iron apiece, the game appeared to be headed to a shootout — that is until Victor Hedman’s shot from the point found its way through traffic and crossed the goal line with a fraction of a second left on the game clock, crossing the line with 0.1 seconds showing officially.
After some initial confusion and a confirmation from the situation room in Toronto, the Lightning skated off the UC ice in victory.
“It’s tough,” DeBrincat said of the defeat. “They did a good job to get that shot off. I know Kaner was all over him. Just squeaks through. Unfortunate bounce. We’ve just got to come back ready to play tomorrow and hopefully get two points.”
BACK FOR MORE
The Blackhawks won’t have to wait long to try and bounce back, with Tampa Bay back in town on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
The overtime loss hasn’t deterred the confidence in a locker room, particularly when you contrast the first two games against the Lightning with the majority of Thursday’s performance. If anything, there’s more confidence than ever that the Blackhawks are on the cusp of the right mix given the strong stretches of the game in Chicago.
“Coming into this series, we knew that if we keep playing our ‘A’ game, we have a chance against anybody,” Lankinen said. “I think maybe the result wasn’t there tonight, but the effort was there for sure. That’s encouraging and we want to build on that tomorrow.”
“Yes,” Colliton said when asked if he expects his team to bounce back stronger. “We need to respond with the same work ethic, the same skating, the same attention to detail that we had for most of the game and find a way to keep that detail in our game all the way home.”
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