Most NHL teams abide by the 90-minute rule.
They’re allotted that time frame to savour victory or process a loss, especially when deserving a better fate.
For the Vancouver Canucks to not dwell on a bitter 4-3 overtime setback to the New York Rangers on Saturday — especially with an uncalled trip of Elias Pettersson leading to the winner — it showed growth.
That’s how mature teams function. That’s how fragile teams falter.
Rather than rail against the non-call, the Canucks knew providing a high-octane offence a pair of 5-on-3 power play advantages would affect the ebb and flow. However, going stride for stride with the swift and sharpshooting Rangers in the second half of back-to-back games, and holding the red-hot club to 13 shots through two periods, was beyond encouraging for the 5-2-1 Canucks.
The Rangers have won four-straight games because they hit another gear in the offensive zone. They whirl and twirl, find the open man and are adept at deflecting pucks. They also relentlessly take away shooting lanes and blocked 18 shots Saturday.
Six of Elias Pettersson’s nine attempts were blocked and contributed to the Canucks going 1-for-6 on the power play. They had 10 shots with improved rotations, passing and shooting options.
Stationing the left-shot J.T. Miller down low to find the right-shot Brock Boeser in the bumper slot resulted in chances, but there of the wingers seven attempts were blocked. But they didn’t let that or anything else get them down.
“Up 2-1 then down 3-2, we’ve come a long way in how we handle that situation,” said defenceman Tyler Myers, whose short-handed effort off a 2-on-1 break midway through the third period gave the Canucks that lead. “We played really solid. I didn’t think we gave them much. We stuck with it and deserved better.”
Myers, who has struggled with defending decisions and positioning, had three shots, seven attempts and three blocks Saturday. He also stayed out of the penalty box.
“We’ll look at the PK and get better, but we were sound structurally and it was one of our better and most complete games this year,” he added. “We’re doing a really good job of taking it day to day and not worried about our record. Getting more consistent is a big thing for our group.”
And a big thing in this hockey-mad market.
The critical lens is always in sharp focus. You screw up, you’re going to hear and read about it. It comes with the territory. However, so does admiration for doing the tough stuff. Playing hard and consistently, and growing a strong backbone to withstand adversity.
It’s why the Canucks were greeted with a standing ovation after regulation time Saturday.
“They want to believe in something and we’re trying to make them believe,” said Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet. “We gave them (Rangers) nothing except the two 5-on-3s. I hope the guys take a nice relaxing day (Sunday) because they deserve it.”
It’s early, but the buy-in is the great separator. Being good enough to compete, but not good enough to win has too often been a sorry season summation. That’s changing.
Here’s what the Canucks face this week:
Predators at Canucks
When and where: Tuesday at 7 p.m. | Rogers Arena
TV: SN Pacific | Radio: Sportsnet 650
Why watch: Pesky Preds possess bite
The Canucks held on for a 3-2 win in Nashville on Oct. 24, but beating acrobatic goalie Juuse Saros is always tough — especially when held to 24 shots. Saros was at his best Saturday with 33 saves to backstop a 3-2 overtime decision over the Maple Leafs.
Who to watch: Winger Ilya Mikheyev
He’s getting up to speed after Feb. 2 knee surgery, which forced the rangy Russian to miss camp and pre-season. His pace was good Saturday with several strong rushes. Opened scoring in Nashville, had four shots and seven attempts, second-star status.
Canucks at Sharks
When and where: Thursday at 7:30 p.m. | SAP Center
TV: SN Pacific | Radio: Sportsnet 650
Why watch: Are struggling Sharks tanking?
San Jose was winless in eight games (0-7-1) heading into Sunday play. The injury-riddled Sharks had scored just eight goals and surrendered 32 and were hammered 6-0 by the Lightning on Thursday. Missing injured captain Logan Couture doesn’t help.
Who to watch: Winger Dakota Joshua
In the first period of a wild 6-5 overtime triumph on Dec. 7 at the Shark Tank, he scored two gritty down-low goals and had a fight in just 2:20 of ice time. Also had a hat trick goal waved off in the second period by goalie interference.
Stars at Canucks
When and where: Saturday at 7 p.m. | Rogers Arena
TV: Hockey Night in Canada | Radio: Sportsnet 650
Why watch: Stars are in denial mode
Good test for the Canucks’ potential-packed power play. Dallas was second in penalty kill efficiency at a gaudy 94.7 after six games by allowing just one man-advantage goal in 19 chances.
Who to watch: Goaltender Thatcher Demko
The Canucks won all three meetings last season, including a dramatic 5-4 overtime win in Dallas on Feb. 27. It marked the return of Thatcher Demko, who made 34 saves after missing 35 games with a Dec. 1 groin injury.
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