The Abbotsford Canucks offensive surge continued on Saturday (Feb. 12), as the club scored five or more goals for the fourth straight game in a 5-2 win over the Manitoba Moose.
Not surprisingly, the Canucks are now riding a four-game win streak and as a result have the teams above them in the Pacific Division in their crosshairs.
Defenceman Jack Rathbone continued his strong play in Abbotsford this month and opened the scoring at 2:03. John Stevens made it 2-0 at 6:53 and the Canucks didn’t really look back from there.
Chase Wouters scored at 2:11 of the second, but Manitoba broke Michael DiPietro’s shutout bid at 9:06 of the second when Matt Alfaro lit the lamp. Stevens scored his second of the game and 10th this season to make it 4-1 after 40 minutes.
The teams traded goals in the third, with Phil Di Giuseppe also scoring his 10th on a empty net goal late.
Stevens had a four-point night, something he’s never accomplished as a pro and both Rathbone and Wouters had two-point evenings. Di Giuseppe led all Canucks with four shots on goal, but Abbotsford was outshot 21-19. DiPietro’s record is slowly climbing close to .500 and he recorded his sixth win this season.
Saturday’s win comes off a huge 8-2 win over the Moose on Friday (Feb. 11). Sheldon Dries exploded for four goals, while Nic Petan added two. Both Rathbone and Di Giuseppe also tallied. Will Lockwood, the debuting Justin Dowling and Matt Murphy all had three assists.
Spencer Martin made 26 saves to earn his eighth win.
Manitoba is one of the top teams in the American Hockey League’s Central Division and Canucks head coach Trent Cull said the pair of victories is encouraging.
“It’s always good for us to see that we can compete with the best teams in the league and we’re right there,” he said. “So it’s been good and I’ve liked the way we’ve played.”
“It felt like every time [the line of Wouters, Stevens and Lukosevicius] got on the ice early in the game they scored a goal for us...— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) February 13, 2022
"It was nice for those guys, who are in checking or PK roles, to be easily the best line at 5-on-5 tonight."
🗣️ Trent Cull#AbbyCanucks pic.twitter.com/QQbftICHwy
Cull said Dowling, who was sent to Abbotsford from Vancouver before Friday, has been a good fit.
“I really love the way that line played last night,” he said. “He’s a high-end skill guy you can see it’s almost like a game moving in slow motion for him. I have to make sure I’m cracking the whip on those guys and keeping them going and working as hard as possible but he’s a hockey smart guy and he knows what’s going and picks things up quickly.”
The Canucks are kind of stuck in sixth place at the moment, and are eight points ahead of seventh and eight points behind sixth. Cull said he is happy as long as his team is trending in a positive direction.
“We’re like the tortoise and the hare,” he said, comparing the team to a popular fable. “We’ve gone through a lot of stuff here and I feel we’re like this slow moving turtle and as long as we keep going the right direction and doing the right things.”
Abbotsford is also now a perfect 4-0 when wearing green jerseys at home.
The Canucks record now moves to 19-15-3-1 and they are locked in sixth place in the Pacific Division. The team now hits the road for a game on Wednesday (Feb. 16) against the Bakersfield Condors. They then play games on Saturday (Feb. 19) and Sunday (Feb. 20) vs. the Colorado Eagles in the Centennial State.
Attendance for Saturday was 3,492, which is impressive considering that the Vancouver Canucks were playing the Toronto Maple Leafs at Rogers Arena.
The next home games for Abbotsford may be played under no capacity restrictions, as it’s believed that the B.C. provincial government may lift arena restrictions in the coming weeks.
Abbotsford hosts the Stockton Heat for games on Feb. 25 and 27 to close out the month.