Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

VANCOUVER – With two wins in a row, the struggling Vancouver Canucks have returned home with much-needed momentum.

But whether they will be able to keep the streak alive against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday is still unknown.

“We have to feel good about our game, feel confident and ready to play. So I think we have a long way to go, but we needed the two victories,” defender Quinn Hughes said on Friday when the team returned from a five-game road turn. “We played well, I thought. We played well the whole trip, maybe in addition to the first match. But we just have to keep going. ”

The first quarter of the season has been tough for the Canucks, who sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division with a record of 8-14-2. Calls for change have gone back so far, with both head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning retaining their positions.

A 2-1 win over the Canadiens in Montreal on Monday and Wednesday’s 6-2 thrashing of the Ottawa Senators has made the group feel comfortable, but the upcoming schedule will see them face tougher competition, starting with the Penguins (10-8-5) .

The two sides have already met once this season, with the Canucks dropping an ugly 4-1 decision in Pittsburgh on Nov. 24 to begin the latest road trip.

It’s not a result Green thinks much about as he prepares for Saturday’s match.

“I’m not sitting here dwelling on negativity,” he said. “I did not think we played well in Pittsburgh, especially not the first period. I thought we were better the last two. “

Tilt vs. Pens will open a six-game home game where Vancouver will host the LA Kings (9-9-4), Boston Bruins (12-8-0), Winnipeg Jets (10-8-4), Columbus Blue Jackets (12-9-0) and the Carolina Hurricanes (15-6-1).

The Canucks need to be up and running every night and can build on their latest game, Conor Garland said.

Vegas Golden Knights center Brett Howden (21) and Vancouver Canucks defender Quinn Hughes (43) are chasing the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, November 13, 2021 in Las Vegas.

“(Saturday) is a big game for us, of course,” the Canucks winger said. “We have gained some momentum. But we have dug a hole here early, so we will have to gather some victories together here to get back in the hunt. ”

Green does not want his team to think too much about how much land they need to make up in the standings before the playoffs can once again become an option.

“Let’s not worry about having to get on the field, let’s worry about playing well next game,” he said. “I do not think you start talking about three, four, five in a row. Let’s worry about putting our best foot forward next match. “

While six different players found the back of the net against Sens, several of Vancouver’s stars continue to fight offensively. Right winger Brock Boeser has not scored since his team sent the Dallas Stars 6-3 back on Nov. 7, and center Elias Pettersson has one goal and two assists in his last 11 games.

“Boys want to go through drought, and it’s easy to say ‘be confident, be confident,'” Green said, noting that there is a difference between team confidence and individual confidence.

“I think in the end, when you really work and skate and compete on a puck, sometimes confidence will just come from there. Sometimes you get an ugly goal and you want to feel good about yourself.”

Some of the problems that plagued the group early in the year have shown progress in recent outings, Hughes said, highlighting punitive killings and power games.

“Special teams have been a big factor. We lost a lot of matches early because of that, ”he said.

Vancouver’s penalty kill is still the worst in the league with 64.5 percent, but it managed four-out-five penalties against the Senators. The powerplay reached two goals on six chances in Ottawa and stands at 18.1 percent on the season.

Hughes has also been a bright spot in a sad season.

The 22-year-old American is number two on the team with 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 23 games, including four assistants on Wednesday.

“I’m feeling hungry right now, excited to play and just want to keep going,” Hughes said of his recent game.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 3, 2021.

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