Virtanen, Miller lead Canucks to 4-1 win over Penguins
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Vancouver Canucks shut down the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period, and that set the stage for a dominating win.
Jake Virtanen and J.T. Miller scored power-play goals in the first and the Canucks held Pittsburgh without a shot in the period on the way to a 4-1 win on Saturday night.
Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser also scored for the Canucks (18-15-4). Tyler Myers had two assists.
“We came out, feeling good going into this game,” said Miller, who scored what proved to be the winner with three minutes left in the opening frame. “I thought we had the right start.
“Obviously, they didn’t get a shot in the first period, so you can’t get a better start than that.”
“First period was great,” said goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who made 28 saves in the game’s final 40 minutes. “We had some power plays and scored two goals and didn’t let one shot on net and kept them outside through the first period.”
Jake Guentzel scored for the Penguins (21-11-4).
Matt Murray, making his first start since Dec. 7, stopped 10 shots for Pittsburgh.
“It feels like forever since I played, but like I said, it is what it is,” Murray said. “I thought we got a little bit unlucky there in the first period with some of those calls. That’s a tough situation to be in, taking all those penalties, but we did our best and we tried to battle through it. If we had a better first period, I think we would have had a better chance.”
The game got off to a sluggish start, with 10:24 elapsing in the first period before Antoine Roussel recorded the game’s first shot on goal.
Soon after, the Canucks earned a long 5-on-3 power play. Dominik Simon received a double-minor for high-sticking Adam Gaudette, and Brandon Tanev was whistled for holding 29 seconds later.
Miller appeared to give the Canucks the lead during the 5-on-3 power play, but the goal was called back due to a coach’s challenge for offside.
Virtanen eventually opened the scoring with 4:50 left in the first. He scored on a slap shot from the left boards that beat Murray high to the glove side. With the Canucks still on the power play, Miller doubled Vancouver’s lead just 1:50 later. He picked up his 14th goal of the year by tipping a shot by Oscar Fantenberg over Murray’s glove.
Shots on goal were 5-0 for Vancouver at the end of the first period. It was the first time the Canucks held their opponents to no shots in a period since April 5, 2018.
In the second, the Penguins dominated play, outshooting Vancouver 20-6. Guentzel’s goal came off a rebound with 4:32 left to play, while Gaudette was serving a high-sticking double minor.
Less than a minute later, the Canucks replied, with Pettersson sending a rebound high over Murray’s glove after a shot by Tyler Myers. It was Pettersson’s 17th goal of the year and his fifth in six games.
In the third, the teams traded power-play chances before Boeser recorded his 13th of the year, converting a feed from Pettersson from behind the net. Vancouver finished the game 2 for 5 with the man advantage. Pittsburgh was 1 for 5.
NOTES: Miller’s goal was his first in seven games, his longest stretch without scoring since he joined the Canucks. ... Vancouver is now 2-1-0 on its homestand. ... Saturday marked Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan’s 500th career game as an NHL head coach. Pittsburgh’s loss snapped a four-game winning streak. ... The Canucks held their annual ‘Jersey Off Our Backs’ night on Saturday.
Penguins: At Nashville on Friday.
Canucks: Host Edmonton Oilers on Monday.