OTTAWA — The Canucks had their way with the Senators in a three-game sweep in late January, outscoring Ottawa by a combined 16-3 score in Vancouver.
Monday night proved to be far more difficult, showing the progress the young Senators have made since. The Canucks needed an overtime goal from J.T Miller and 44 saves from goaltender Thatcher Demko to dispatch the stubborn Senators 3-2.
"I'm happy we won the game, but I didn't think we skated very well. I didn't think we passed the puck very well," said Canucks coach Travis Green. "Our goalie gave us the game."
Ottawa outshot the Canucks 46-28, rallying from a 2-0 deficit with a season-high shot count. It marked the fourth time this season that Demko has made at least 40 saves, the most among NHL goalies.
Colin White, whose errant pass led to Vancouver's second goal, forced the overtime with 2:10 remaining with a one-timer from the slot with the Ottawa net empty.
In OT, the Canucks took advantage of an Ottawa line change as Miller beat a tired Senator at the blue line and then deked Joey Daccord for the winner at 1:40.
The Senators, playing their second game in as many nights, had their chances -- often helped by some sloppy Canucks play. Ottawa hit the post three times and was denied an early goal by a quick whistle.
"We looked sluggish tonight .... We just didn't play well enough throughout the whole game," said Green. "But we did find a way to win it."
Miller paid tribute to Ottawa.
"That team, you can't take them lightly," he said. "We knew that going in. They've been playing really good hockey. They work really hard and they have some skill that can get you when they force you into mistakes.
"Obviously we gave them a little too much tonight, we know that."
Ottawa didn't get any help from its power play, which fizzled on four opportunities.
Ottawa outshot Vancouver 18-9 in the first period and hit the goalpost twice, but headed to the dressing room trailing 2-0.
Jayce Hawryluk and Tanner Pearson also scored for Vancouver (14-16-2). Josh Norris also scored for Ottawa (10-20-2).
The two teams meets again Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Centre.
"They've had our number this year. We owe them one for sure," said White. "I think we're real excited for Wednesday."
The Canucks, kicking off a four-game road trip, arrived having won four of their last five including a 2-1 victory over the visiting Oilers on Saturday.
Ottawa was coming off a 4-3 win Sunday over visiting Toronto. But it had lost five of its previous seven, including three straight in Edmonton.
Daccord started in the Ottawa goal for the second straight game in place of No. 1 Matt Murray, who suffered an upper-body injury in the warmup prior to Sunday's game against Toronto.
The 24-year-old Daccord, a seventh-round draft pick out of Arizona State, posted his first career NHL win with a 33-save performance as Ottawa held on to edge the Leafs 4-3. He was good again Monday.
"I think he brings a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger," said Norris. "He's not afraid to show that either and I think that's important as a goalie ... We feed off of that."
The Sens recalled goaltender Filip Gustavsson from the AHL's Belleville Senators as backup. Goaltender Marcus Hogberg, the normal No. 2, is on the injured reserve list.
The Canucks had their own injury problems. Elias Pettersson, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle all missed Monday's game. Green said Pettersson would not join the team on the road trip.
Demko, who has been outstanding of late, started in goal for the Canucks for the sixth straight game and ninth in the last 10.
Miller hit the goalpost some four minutes into the game on Vancouver's first shot on net after a giveaway by Ottawa defenceman Thomas Chabot. At the other end, Sens rookie Tim Stutzle unsuccessfully tried to recreate the backhand pass across the goal to linemate Drake Batherson that resulted in a goal Sunday.
Ottawa started fast, outshooting the Canucks 9-2 in the early going..
But Vancouver scored first at 10:14 of the first with Hawryluk poking the puck in during a goalmouth scramble after a Canucks faceoff win led to a Jordie Benn shot from the point. It was the first of the season for the former Senator.
Late in the period, a Vancouver turnover on an Ottawa power play led to Brady Tkachuk firing a shot off the post.
The Canucks made it 2-0 at 18:49 of the first after White, fighting for the puck behind his net, for some reason dumped the puck into the slot to a grateful Pearson for his sixth of the season.
"You just have to have a short memory when that stuff happens and just move forward," said White.
Demko made a fine pad save to deny Tkachuk from in-close on the power play early in the second.
Ottawa cut the lead to 2-1 at 3:52 of the second after defenceman Artem Zub made a fine play to keep the puck in at the Vancouver blue line, sending it over to Stutzle. The German rookie's ensuing shot hit the post but Norris hammered the rebound home for his sixth of the season.
The Sens hit the crossbar late in the second, this time on Nick Paul's blue-line shot. Ottawa's Austin Watson headed to the dressing room after taking a Nate Schmidt shot in the throat. He soon returned to action, his neck reddened by the contact.
Norris nailed Hawryluk in the boards at the Ottawa bench but escaped punishment.
The shot count was 29-16 in Ottawa's favour after 40 minutes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021
The Canadian Press