Canucks wrap up road trip with dominant victory over Senators: 'We were due'

Six different players scored as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-2.

OTTAWA -- The funniest line about Luke Schenn’s goal-of-the-decade was from Luke Schenn.

In the middle of a four-goal outburst Wednesday by the Vancouver Canucks, the veteran stay-at-home defenceman dangled past Ottawa Senator Alex Formenton, pulled the puck to his forehand, and deftly flipped a high shot from close range over goalie Filip Gustavsson to the astonishment of, well, everyone including Schenn.

The goal brought smiles to teammates, ribbing to Schenn, and was symbolic of a rare 6-2 win that eased tensions around a Canucks team that looked a couple of games ago like it would return from its National Hockey League road trip without its head coach and/or general manager.

But by sweeping dreadful teams in Ottawa and Montreal – call it the Lower Canada tour – the Canucks have strung together consecutive wins for the first time since October.

When J.T. Miller capped the rout by stickhandling through the Senators’ lineup before tucking the puck around Gustavsson late in the third period, Schenn greeted his flashier teammate with: “So, you had to one-up me?”

“We had a good laugh about that,” Schenn said later. “Usually, I'm checking to see whose shin pad it went off before it goes in, so I was lucky to get one like that today. I think they were happy (for me). Probably a bit of shock.”

In his walk off interview with Sportsnet after the game, the 32-year-old with 34 goals in 807 career games was reminded of a beauty he scored in 2011 against the Boston Bruins.

“I think Tim Thomas was in net, so I'm really dating myself here,” Schenn explained later. “But I guess I'm good for those once every 10 years. So the next one will come when I'm 42.”

We’re guessing that Canucks winger Brock Boeser, who is 24, will score another before he turns 42. But for now, Wednesday was his 12th straight game without a goal. Miller’s goal was his first in nine games, and captain Bo Horvat scored for the second time in 12 games. Elias Pettersson has one goal in 11.

No wonder the Canucks have been in so many low-scoring games, generally losing them, and that they’ve needed people like Schenn and Tyler Motte, Alex Chiasson and Tanner Pearson to contribute goals like they did on Wednesday.

The Canucks’ six goals were only one fewer than their total from the previous five games and matched the team’s highest output from what has been a season-gone-wrong so far.

“I think we were due for one of those nights for a long time,” Horvat said. “I think we've been playing a lot of good hockey, and for us to kind of have a night like that where a lot of guys were on the scoresheet, it definitely gives us confidence.”

Defenceman Quinn Hughes had four assists and was plus-three and 11 of 18 Canuck skaters registered at least a point. Pettersson had one assist, and Boeser was the only core forward who didn’t make the scoresheet, although he had three shots and eight shot attempts.

“That's probably a big reason why we haven't been winning hockey games,” Horvat said of the offensive collapse among Vancouver’s best forwards. “Sometimes when guys are going through slumps, it's just one or two guys... (but) over these last 10 games where we haven't been getting the wins, all of us are kind of stumped. I said before that I'd be a lot more worried if we weren't getting our chances. Everybody's getting their chances. Boes could have had three again tonight. Eventually the floodgates are going to open.”

At least some confidence is flowing again. The Canucks outshot the Senators 24-10 over the final two periods in their last six games and have averaged 39 shots on goal.

Even their awful penalty kill was good on Wednesday, surrendering a power-play goal to ex-Canuck Adam Gaudette on the Senators’ first advantage before blanking Ottawa the rest of the way, including on a 60-second five-on-three early in the second period when the score was just 2-1.

It’s arguable that the Canucks were the better team in four of their five road games, even if it was only in the final two contests that they actually harvested any points.

“If you're honest about the five games, you'd probably go 3-1-1 at worst with how we played,” coach Travis Green told reporters. “There's going to be some nights where you just don't win and you play well. But again, when you talk to your team and you're not winning, you try to be honest with them about where they need to improve and if they're playing well or not. And they've done a good job listening in areas that we think we need to improve, but also keeping their belief and their work ethic and their compete level high. It was nice to see it come together tonight.”

The damage done by the atrocious first quarter is evident in the standings – the Canucks are six points out of a wildcard playoff spot and have played more games than anyone – and job reviews on Green and GM Jim Benning aren’t ending just because Vancouver beat a couple of Canadian rivals from even lower in the standings.

“If you look at the big picture, it's a big task,” Schenn said. “Honestly, the only approach you can really do is a game at a time. We finished off the road trip the right way.”

The Canucks open a difficult six-game homestand Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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