CANUCKS: Vis­it­ing Van­cou­ver scores eight times on not-so-big Bru­ins

De­spite six in­juries, Canucks play­ing faster and harder — and it’s pay­ing off

The Province - - FRONT PAGE - BEN KUZMA bkuzma@post­media.com @benkuzma

There’s never a com­fort fac­tor in the TD Gar­den.

The Bru­ins are men­ac­ing down the mid­dle be­cause Pa­trice Berg­eron, David Kre­jci and David Backes cause matchup headaches. They were get­ting Vez­ina Tro­phy per­for­mances from the re­ju­ve­nated Jaroslav Halak and their leather-lunged fans still think it’s the 2011 Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal.

If that isn’t enough, they usu­ally ben­e­fit from ques­tion­able of­fi­ci­at­ing, dish out the oc­ca­sional cheap shot and sel­dom lose on home ice, where they had the up­per hand in five of their first six out­ings this NHL sea­son.

“It is a chal­lenge,” Travis Green said of match­ing the Bru­ins down the mid­dle. “We’ve gone through that a few times this year. When you’re strong down the mid­dle like that, you have faith as a coach that you can match up well.

“But it’s not just strength down the mid­dle. It’s a team that has a chance to win a Stan­ley Cup.”

All that should have been enough to in­tim­i­date the Van­cou­ver Canucks on Thurs­day dur­ing the sec­ond stop of a six-game road trip. But there’s some­thing about this club. De­spite six in­juries, they’re play­ing faster and harder. They don’t al­ways play smart, but you can’t knock the ef­fort.

Here’s what we learned on a night where Elias Pet­ters­son was held to one as­sist — and Ja­cob Mark­strom made a larce­nous third-pe­riod glove save off Brad Marc­hand when it was 6-4 — be­fore the Canucks pre­vailed 8-5 in a wild shoot out:

HOR­VAT SHOUL­DERS AN­OTHER BIG LOAD

Bo Hor­vat knew it wasn’t go­ing to be easy.

He opened scor­ing off a turnover, but win­ning face­offs and puck bat­tles was go­ing to test his met­tle. He took slash­ing, trip­ping and high-stick­ing penal­ties, but he also had a four-point night and sucked it up in the cir­cle. He won 16 of his first 30 draws in tough de­fen­sive-zone matchups and al­lowed the Canucks to es­cape more of­ten than not.

And just when it looked like frus­tra­tion might get the best of Hor­vat, he bolted from the penalty box in the third pe­riod, blocked a Tuukka Rask clear­ing at­tempt, spun and slid the puck into a yawn­ing cage on his fourth shot of the night for a three-goal lead be­fore Jake Vir­ta­nen got his sixth goal of the sea­son.

And, just for good mea­sure, Dar­ren Archibald got the bet­ter of Torey Krug in a lategame scrap as the Bruin tried to sal­vage some­thing in in­sti­gat­ing the bout.

ERIKS­SON EMERGES FROM SHAD­OWS

Loui Eriks­son scored 30 goals for the Bru­ins in 2015-16 and it looked like turn-back the-clock night for the much-ma­ligned winger, who had a three-point ef­fort.

With points in his two pre­vi­ous games, there was rea­son to be­lieve that if play­ing here didn’t get the Swede revved up, what will? To his credit, Eriks­son did what he did to com­mand in­ter­est from the Canucks. He got to the net on his first goal — a Markus Gran­lund chance off a turnover and an Erik Gud­bran­son shot — be­fore slid­ing home a re­bound on the back­hand.

He then went one bet­ter by tip­ping a Ben Hut­ton power-play point shot down and past Halak. Eriks­son also had a team-high three take-aways to speak of what he has been able to do when the goals weren’t com­ing.

ROUS­SEL: A GAB, A JAB AND A GOAL

It was go­ing to take time for An­toine Rous­sel to fully re­cover from an Aug. 30 con­cus­sion and get into proper shape. Safe to say the ag­i­tat­ing winger is over the ail­ment and has fi­nally found his legs.

Rous­sel was al­ready hav­ing an ef­fec­tive night by do­ing what he does best. He got in a first-pe­riod mosh pit in Halak’s kitchen. He gabbed, he jabbed, he drew two penal­ties and then scored in the sec­ond pe­riod to give the Canucks a two-goal cush­ion.

And the man­ner in which Rous­sel scored — get­ting to the net to tip a Gran­lund wide-an­gle shot to chase Halak from the net af­ter al­low­ing five goals on 19 shots — hasn’t hap­pened enough this sea­son and needs to oc­cur more, es­pe­cially on this trip.

DE­FENCE SHOOTS, DE­FENCE SCORES

Gud­bran­son said he was feel­ing bet­ter and work­ing on his skat­ing dur­ing the off-sea­son is pay­ing off.

He’s get­ting up in the play, pinch­ing down low and has added a sur­pris­ing of­fen­sive el­e­ment. He had an as­sist in three con­sec­u­tive games head­ing into Thurs­day’s ac­tion. He then added an­other on Eriks­son’s first goal be­fore Tim Schaller pro­vided the screen and Gubran­son’s wrist shot from the point went over the shoul­der of Rask.

There was more.

Hut­ton’s power-play point shot found the net through a maze and it was his shot that Eriks­son tipped.

— THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ref­er­ees sep­a­rate Van­cou­ver Canucks left winger An­toine Rous­sel from Bos­ton Bru­ins right winger David Backes, left, de­fence­man Zdeno Chara, cen­tre, and left winger An­ders Bjork, Thurs­day in Bos­ton. The Canucks emerged tri­umphant in a game that fea­tured 13 goals.

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