Elias Pettersson is perfectly fine again.
The Canucks’ superstar centre has seven goals — including the game-winner Thursday in Pittsburgh — in his last four games.
Is it any coincidence that the Canucks are on a four-game winning streak, or that those wins have all been powered by the revival of the Lotto Line?
The Canucks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday 4-3 in overtime, a performance powered by the Lotto Line — Pettersson alongside J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser — and their star goaltender, Thatcher Demko.
The next time the Canucks are in action, all those players could be All-Stars.
The Canucks are making a statement about their Stanley Cup credentials on this road trip.
There, it’s been said.
The Penguins may be down in the standings but they’ve rediscovered themselves over the past month and are as tough as they come. That’s a team full of experience and talent and it was no surprise they were able to battle back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it up late.
But the Canucks persevered and found the win in overtime, with Pettersson calmly slipping the puck through Tristan Jarry’s pads after a breakaway.
For Pettersson, it’s the fourth game in a row he’s scored a game winner, a feat that’s only been achieved three times before in NHL history.
Told of this fact by Canucks team reporter Kate Pettersen, Pettersson openly gawped: “Oh really? That’s pretty cool!”
Pettersson and his linemates accounted for all four Canucks goals: Boeser scoring the first two, Pettersson the latter two.
“We have chemistry from the past and we’re just trying to work hard and rely on each other and see the play ahead of us,” Pettersson said.
Save of the year
There is absolutely no doubt that the save Demko made in the third period on Sidney Crosby will be talked about for the rest of the season.
With the Penguins surging, looking for a tying goal, looking to show the upstart Canucks what’s what, of course the puck ended up on the captain’s stick, with the greatest player of his generation driving the net.
In other circumstances, with the goalie prone on the ice and Crosby in full control of the situation, that’s a backhand tap-in for Crosby.
Demko simply said no — with his toe.
The Canucks have been righting their penalty kill over the past month.
Since Dec. 16, when Miller was taken off the penalty kill, the Canucks’ PK has been running at a solid 80 per cent.
What a breakout
The Canucks are roughly middle of the pack in terms of rush chances generated, but of the ones they do generate, they’re outstanding at finishing them.
Take Boeser’s game-opening goal.
The Lotto Line is playing with such confidence that they get moving the moment the spot a sliver of a gap.
With Filip Hronek set to win control of the puck behind Vancouver’s net, Boeser got ready to lead the rush. He got the puck, fired it to Miller streaking up the ice, who tapped it on to Pettersson, who then made a slick cutback move to gain control of both the puck and the play, then wired it goal side for Boeser to tap in.
Working those tips
Both Boeser’s second goal and Pettersson’s late in the third came in similar circumstances: perfect tips off well-weighted shots from the outside.
We got so familiar with how well the Sedins worked the slap pass, we perhaps missed what a weapon it’s become league wide.
And now it’s come back to life in Vancouver with one of the best forward trios this town has ever seen.
Keep at it, Lotto Line.
Six times now have the Vancouver Canucks knocked the opposition’s starting goalie out of the net.
Alex Nedeljkovic was the latest victim.
He’s been playing very well, and it wasn’t a surprise that Mike Sullivan chose to start him.
Indeed, there may even have been some reading into how the Canucks have been succeeding this season: Sullivan feels he’s been outstanding against the rush.
“His game has been solid overall,” Sullivan said ahead of a game versus the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this week.
“He’s battling but I think one of the things that I’ve noticed now that I’ve watched him close is how well he reads plays and maybe that lends to his ability to make saves off the rush.”
Of course the Canucks went out and scored their first goal of the game on the rush.
Tristan Jarry, who hasn’t been nearly as good as Nedeljkovic this season, was stellar in relief.
He stopped seven Vancouver shots early in the second, including several hot chances by the Lotto Line, before Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s first goal.
(Of course it was on the rush.)
Sid the Kid? Who else?
Crosby remains timeless. He’s as good as he’s ever been.
He put his team on his back and got them into overtime.
He could have had four goals but for Demko’s efforts.
His second goal of the game, which hit his leg before squeezing over Demko’s blocker, put him past Mike Bossy into 22nd on the all-time goals list. He’ll pass Mark Recchi soon enough and if he has a big second half, will be within sniffing distance of Jari Kurri and the top 20 by the end of the season.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Buffalo Sabres
1 p.m., KeyBank Center, TV: SN Pacific, Radio: Sportsnet 650
Recommended from Editorial
Canucks numbers: Of rush chances and NHL All-Stars
Boost in win column leading to bump in Vancouver Canucks memorabilia sales
Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.
You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.