(Photo credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports)
The Vancouver Canucks keep on rolling and surprising the hockey world.
Heading into a Thursday road game against the Calgary Flames, the Canucks are on a 10-1-1 run that has them tied with the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the Western Conference. Officially, Vancouver is in first placethanks to having more regulation wins.
Proving their potency, the Canucks erased a 3-1 deficit in a 4-3 overtime win against the visiting New York Islanders on Wednesday. Captain Quinn Hughes scored at 2:36 of the extra session.
"It felt like we were going to win," Hughes told Postmedia. "We were all over them in the second (period) and just believe in ourselves. It's our maturity level. Just knowing what makes us successful and we've got a lot of hungry guys who aren't going to accept losing right now."
The key to Vancouver's success is a potent offensive attack, tops in the league.
Leading the way is the trio of Hughes, J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson, all three of whom are tied for top spot in the league with 26 points apiece. Vancouver's Brock Boeser is tied for the league lead in goals with the Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews and the Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor, each with 13.
If that weren't enough, Filip Hronek has tied the Canucks' franchise record for the longest point streak by a defenseman, 11 games. He has one goal and 13 assists in that span.
Hughes, who has posted five three-point games already this season, is riding a five-game point streak in which he has two goals and eight assists, while Miller is on a five-game run with four goals and six assists.
A big part of the offensive success is Vancouver's power-play prowess. The Canucks scored three times with the man-advantage against the Islanders and are second in the league with a 33.3-percent rate (21-for-63).
"Our skill takes over and something seems to open up," Miller said. "We're getting rewarded right now."
The Flames, tied for 11th in the Western Conference, have a difficult climb ahead to get in a playoff position. However, they are on a 3-1-1 run since struggling through a six-game losing skid, and they are coming off a 2-1 road victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom sparkled in that outing with a 34-save performance that may have been his best of the season.
"I feel good, but it's about winning hockey games, especially stringing a few together," Markstrom said. "That's important with the start we had. We have to look forward."
The Flames, who are looking to win consecutive games for only the second time this season, are being led by a couple of surprising rookies.
Connor Zary, a 2020 first-round draft choice, has logged three goals and three goals in six games since being summoned from the minors. Fellow forward Martin Pospisil, a 2018 fourth-round draft choice, has collected four points in his five NHL games.
The two newcomers have helped veteran center Nazem Kadri hit his stride.
"We want to play with the puck and I think that's the key," Kadri said of his line. "Out there, you can't be timid or discouraged when things don't always go your way. You've got to stay persistent. That's what I'm trying to preach."
Calgary coach Ryan Huska added, "Both Zary and Pospisil have done an excellent job for us. Zary and Kads have some found chemistry, and we were wondering how it would work with Pospy on that line, and he did really well. I thought that was our most consistent line (in Montreal)."
--Field Level Media