Vancouver Sun

Pettersson saves the day in OT win over Senators

- PATRICK JOHNSTON pjohnston@postmedia.com twitter.com/risingacti­on

CANUCKS 4, SENATORS 3 (OT)

OTTAWA Elias Pettersson’s rookie season is slowly but surely becoming one for the ages.

The Swedish super rookie scored his first NHL hat trick, leading the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Pettersson’s overtime goal on a two-on-one rush, set up by Brock Boeser, saved the day for the Canucks, who blew a 3-1 lead late in the third period.

“He was OK,” Canucks coach Travis Green joked after the game about the 20-year-old centre’s performanc­e. “He was great, man. He was on tonight. What are you going to say? Big day for him ... he was dialed in. These last couple games, he had that look. He’s just getting better.”

The Canucks dominated the shot count and much of the possession for most of this NHL game, but found themselves in overtime, yielding two goals to the Ottawa Senators in the game’s final minutes at the Canadian Tire Centre.

The Canucks controlled the danger areas in their own end for much of Wednesday’s game, and Jacob Markstrom was chalking up another strong performanc­e in goal.

But Vancouver’s penalty killing, which had been on a great run to close 2018, returned to its former “wobbliness,” yielding a pair of goals to Ottawa.

That kept the Senators in the game. The hosts then tied the game with their goalie pulled, Mark Stone — the man who is all the talk of the town these days, what with his contract set to expire this summer — hammering the puck home from just in front of Markstrom.

Ironically, the Canucks also found their power-play groove, getting goals with the man advantage from Sven Baertschi and Pettersson. Pettersson scored his first goal of the game at even strength in the second period.

The Senators’ power-play markers in regulation were scored by Matt Duchene in the second period and Christian Wolanin in the third. Here’s what else we learned in Ottawa:

PAYING IT TO PETEY

It was a big day for the Canucks’ super-rookie. There was the hat trick. Earlier in the day, he was named December’s rookie of the month and then selected for the NHL all-star game.

“It feels good. I can’t lie about it. I’m very happy about it,” Pettersson said of getting his first NHL hat trick.

Pettersson’s second-period goal pushed him to 40 points, putting him in elite company.

Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Connor McDavid all have managed to score 40

points in fewer than 40 games to open their careers.

Pettersson then hammered home his second of the game on a third-period power play, a onetimed slap shot off an Alex Edler pass that went into the top corner to the right of Senators goalie Marcus Hogberg.

His third goal came seconds after he nearly scored on a previous rush, but he hit the post to the right of Hogberg.

“We both want to become better and also build chemistry,” Pettersson said of playing with Boeser.

He said he was excited about going to the all-star game, too.

“I’m very happy with that,” he said.

Pettersson is now up to 1.14 points per game, a rate that puts him behind only Crosby and Ovechkin in their rookie seasons.

MARKSTROM MAKES MARK

The main factor in moving out Anders Nilsson before the game was to pave the way for rookie goalie Thatcher Demko. But the play of Jacob Markstrom is also part of the story.

Markstrom, the Canucks’ No. 1 netminder, has been excellent since the beginning of December and the solidifica­tion of his game meant the Canucks were ready to bring in Demko to play understudy.

“Even when we were losing, some games I felt like we were playing better than I did on this stretch,” he said.

APPLES FOR ALEX

Alex Edler had a hand in three of Vancouver’s goals.

He had the shot that led to a rebound for Baertschi to score his goal, he put Boeser in on a rush before Boeser dished to Pettersson, and then he had the cross-ice setup for Pettersson’s second goal.

A RING-A-DING-DING

The Canucks got 17 shots on goal in the first period. They kept firing away in the second, getting nine more in the first nine minutes.

And two shot attempts rang off the posts behind Hogberg, too, Boeser on a long shot through a crowd, then Ben Hutton not long after on the power play.

Baertschi finally burst Hogberg ’s bubble, banging home a rebound from an Edler power-play point shot, the Canucks’ 26th shot of the game. They had 30 through 40 minutes.

The shot parade continued in the third: Although it took nine minutes for the Canucks to record two shots, they still ended up with 14 in the final frame, ending the night with 45 shots on goal.

 ?? JANA CHYTILOVA/FREESTYLE PHOTOGRAPH­Y/GETTY IMAGES ?? From left, Canucks Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Chris Tanev, Brock Boeser and Jay Beagle celebrate their overtime win over the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Wednesday. Pettersson’s goal in the extra frame marked the all-star’s first hat trick in the NHL.
JANA CHYTILOVA/FREESTYLE PHOTOGRAPH­Y/GETTY IMAGES From left, Canucks Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Chris Tanev, Brock Boeser and Jay Beagle celebrate their overtime win over the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Wednesday. Pettersson’s goal in the extra frame marked the all-star’s first hat trick in the NHL.

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