Boeser scores twice, leads Canucks past Penguins
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Vancouver Cancuks rookie Brock Boeser is enjoying a fast start to his career, while embattled defenseman Derrick Pouliot is just happy to have a change of scenery.
Boeser scored two more goals and Pouliot netted the game-winner against his former team as the Canucks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 on Wednesday night.
“There’s a lot to be excited about with Brock,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “He’s playing well offensively, and I’m happy with that part. But I’m really happy with the rest of his game.”
Boeser, after scoring twice against Philadelphia on Tuesday, added two more and now has 11 this season. Pouliot, a former Penguin defenseman, scored a power-play goal, his first with Vancouver, while Loui Eriksson, playing in his 800th career game, scored his second. Brandon Sutter, another former Penguin, scored an empty-net goal for the Canucks, who won in Pittsburgh for the first time since Dec. 4, 2014. Vancouver is 3-5-3 at home, but has won eight of 11 on the road this season.
Anders Nilsson withstood a third-period Penguins’ surge to stop 43 shots for the Canucks.
Jake Guentzel scored twice, both on the power play, for Pittsburgh and now has eight this season. The Penguins started the season with wins in seven of their first 11, but now have just four wins in their last 12. Pittsburgh gave up two power-play goals for the second straight game and has allowed 10 in its last six.
Matt Murray stopped 32 shots for Pittsburgh.
“I don’t think the start was particularly what we talked about,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, whose team trailed 4-1 after two periods. “I thought we responded after that, but I didn’t think the start was the one we wanted.”
Boeser, among the leaders in rookie goals and points, has six goals during a five-game point streak for Vancouver. Boeser, Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2015, has 21 points in 19 games played this season and five goals against Pittsburgh alone.
“I’ve learned that if your confidence gets too high, you won’t produce,” Boeser said. “I like to stay even-keeled and have the same approach every game.”
Pouliot scored his first of the year in the waning seconds of a second-period power play. It was his first goal since his rookie season with Pittsburgh.
“I was very excited to come back here and play,” Pouliot said. “It was good to get that (goal) here.”
The Penguins selected Pouliot No. 8 overall in the 2012 NHL Draft, but traded the 23-year-old defenseman to Vancouver in October after things didn’t work out in Pittsburgh. Pouliot, with two goals and 14 points in 67 games for Pittsburgh the past three seasons, appeared in two Stanley Cup playoff games in 2016 when the Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks to win the first of back-to-back championships.
Pouliot said he was surprised to see the Penguins play a welcome back tribute video during a first-period break.
“That was a very classy thing for Pittsburgh to do,” Pouliot said. “I enjoyed my time here, so it was appreciated.”
Pouliot though, appears to have found a home in Vancouver.
“Sometimes a player just needs a fresh start,” Green said. “When a young player goes to a different team, a different look sometimes wakes them up. Confidence is another thing, too.”
The Penguins played without star center Evgeni Malkin, who sustained an upper-body injury during a home loss against Chicago on Saturday. Malkin, second on the team with seven goals and 21 points, practiced on Monday, but did not skate on Tuesday. Malkin will be re-evaluated Thursday before it’s determined if he can play at Boston on Friday or Tampa Bay Saturday at home.
Derek Dorsett didn’t play for the Canucks. He was sent to Vancouver for precautionary medical reasons stemming from neck and back stiffness. Dorsett missed 68 games last season after undergoing career-threatening cervical fusion neck surgery in December 2016. He has nine points in 20 games this season, along with 39 hits and a league-high 74 penalty minutes.
NOTES: The Canucks have seven wins in 11 games against Eastern Conference teams this season. ... The Canucks acquired Sutter from Pittsburgh during a July 2015 trade. ... Canucks F Thomas Vanek has nine points in his past nine games, including an assist in five straight. ... Canucks F Sven Baertschi has 12 points in his past 10 games. ... Penguins F Carter Rowney skated in warmups, but missed his 14th straight game with a fractured hand. . Troy Stecher (knee) is expected to return during Vancouver’s season-high six-game road trip. ... Guentzel has goals in his last three against the Canucks and points in all four career appearances.
Canucks: Continue a six-game road trip at New Jersey on Friday
Penguins: Visit Boston on Friday