VANCOUVER – On a night when everyone was staring at what the Vancouver Canucks were carrying on their heads, not a single fan took off their hat at that moment for Pius Sutter’s hat-trick.
normal. Not for the fans, but for Sutter, a quiet man, rarely in the spotlight but always on the coaching staff’s radar for the things he does well. Sutter is an understated player who is quietly enjoying a solid season with the Canucks.
Although he is as reliable as he is versatile, capable of playing anywhere in the lineup from the first line to the fourth line and either in the middle or on the wing, Sutter is the type of player every team needs. A Swiss Army Knife, which also happens to be Swiss.
None of the fans in Rogers Arena seemed to notice Sutter’s hat-trick, even if completing it was too much to miss: the equalizer with 52 seconds left in regulation that salvaged a point for the Canucks, who had rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period before that. 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis Blues.
The Canucks’ new, unnaturally bright blue helmets received a lot of attention before and during Wednesday’s game, but no one in the stands was willing to donate a hat until the ice was scraped off before the triple-A session and after the arena. Broadcaster Al Murdoch informed everyone of Sutter’s second NHL hat-trick.
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Surprisingly, his other goal was scored three years ago, in Sutter’s sixth NHL game with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Canucks outscored the Blues 32-18 but trailed most of the game and lost at 1:54 of overtime when Brayden Schenn brought down Elias Pettersson in front of the Vancouver net and used the extra space to beat goaltender Casey DeSmith gloveside. Wrist throw.
Sutter scored all three Canuck goals in the third period on a night he was moved to left wing on a line with JT Miller and Brock Boozer. Sutter has 12 goals in 34 games as a Canuck.
“Obviously I was happy about it,” Sutter, 27, from Zurich, told reporters. “We came back from two goals down twice. Obviously he couldn’t finish (the win). Kind of disappointing.”
“Obviously you’re on the line that you’re supposed to score. In the end, you’re just trying to play your game, win 50/50 battles, and then you get to the net. Sometimes they go in like today, and then other times you hit the post or something.” Like this.
While Miller was hitting the posts, his new teammate was scoring goals.
Sutter tallied an even-strength rebound, from the low slot on the power play, and tied the game six-on-five by getting enough of a rebound that hit him off Miller’s skate to fall over the St. Louis goaltender. Joel Hoover tied the game 3-3.
Miller finished with one assist, and Boozer and defenseman Quinn Hughes each had two.
“I talk about this to me all the time, just predictability,” Miller said of Sutter’s strengths. “He’s a very easy guy to play with. He’s a guy who can jump anywhere, very versatile. On good teams, you always have guys like him. He never complains a day in his life. He just fills the spot they ask him to go, and he plays every Center. Like I said, he’s fun to play with. Every face-off game he goes to the net. Sometimes the pucks bounce off your stick and he has enough skill to put them away.
After spending the last two seasons in Detroit and the previous season in Chicago, Sutter joins a playoff-eligible team for the first time.
He was expected to center the third line for the Canucks, but Teddy Blueger took over that job between wings Connor Garland and Dakota Joshua when Sutter was injured on Nov. 12 in Montreal. Blueger hasn’t been displaced since and the Life Line was the best for the Canucks for a month.
Since returning from injury, Suter has focused on the fourth line, playing as a winger in the top six with both Elias Pettersson and Miller at center, and for most of the nine games before Wednesday, he was center on the second line between Ilya Mikheyev and Andrey Kuzmenko.
Sutter also kills penalties and plays the power play.
“I wouldn’t say I expected it,” he said of the many role changes. “At the beginning of the year, I was on the line and I got hurt. Obviously I was moving around a little bit, but that’s just been part of my game the last few years. I can’t complain about that.
“It’s a great fight for a place in the playoffs. This is really exciting. It’s a very fun win. It’s more fun when… if you play well and you know you can get points from any team. I’m repeating myself here, but it’s fun.” “Very much, isn’t it? It’s exciting.”
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Maybe he will return to center. Coach Rick Tocchet didn’t like Peterson’s game on Wednesday when the All-Star scoring star was moved from Miller’s wing and moved back to center between Mikheyev and Kuzmenko.
“Listen, Miller’s line was great,” Touchette said. “Melcy and Sotis were really good tonight. (We had) some guys that played hard for us.
The coach said: “I did not like his style in the last three or four matches.” “We’ve got to get him going. I think he’s got to skate. He’s got to start skating a little bit. I think he’s good with the moves sometimes, but I think when you have the speed and you make those moves, that’s when he’s at his best. We’ll make him “He leaves.”
They have one game left before the All-Star break to try. The Columbus Blue Jackets visit Rogers Arena on Saturday.