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Best of the Best: January 2020

...the best Canucks plays from the first month of 2020

by Brady Trettenero @BradyTrett / Freelance writer

The Canucks have taken over first place in the Pacific Division thanks to an excellent month of January in which they posted an 8-3-0 record. The team has won nine straight at home and has been getting elite performances from several players.

From a dazzling goal by Quinn Hughes to a vintage windmill save from Jacob Markstrom, the Canucks made some incredible plays this past month. Here's the best of the best from January.

Best Goal

Q. Hughes spins and blasts slapshot goal vs. Sharks (01/29/20)

Quinn Hughes continues to find ways to dazzle in his rookie season. The 20-year-old ranks second among all NHL rookies in scoring with six goals and 36 points through 50 games. A goal the youngster scored in the Canucks' final game of the month against San Jose was a perfect showcase of the dynamic skill-set he brings to the table. With Vancouver trailing 1-0 in the first period at SAP Center and controlling play in the offensive zone, Hughes used his speed to win a race and beat out Timo Meier for a loose puck at the side boards. After gaining possession, Hughes showed tremendous skill to spin back away, walk the blueline and unleash a lethal slapshot past goaltender Martin Jones. Hughes' ability to free up space for himself by using his patented spin move illustrates just how creative and elusive he is on the blueline.

Video: VAN@SJS: Hughes hammers slap shot through screen

Best Assist

Virtanen sets up Miller with saucer pass vs. Sharks (01/18/20)

Jake Virtanen may be on track for the first 20-goal season of his NHL career, but he's also demonstrated some elite playmaking ability this season. The Langley, BC native has racked up 16 helpers this season to help set a new career high in points (31). One of Virtanen's best plays came at home in a game against the Sharks. With the Canucks leading 3-1 in the third period, Virtanen helped deliver the dagger by feeding J.T. Miller with a perfect saucer pass on a 2-on-1 rush. The play started when Virtanen took a pass from Pettersson in the neutral zone and used his speed to break in with Miller. Instead of immediately putting the puck on net as he may have done in the past, Virtanen demonstrated great awareness to recognize defenseman Brent Burns going down before skillfully saucing the puck over to Miller for a goal.

Video: SJS@VAN: Miller, Virtanen combine for goal on 2-on-1

Best Save

Markstrom makes diving pad save vs. Sharks (01/29/20)

Jacob Markstrom had a January to remember, posting a 6-2-0 record to help the Canucks stay atop the Pacific Division standings. The Swedish netminder continues to be one of the busiest goaltenders in the NHL, as his 1,028 saves this season are seventh-most among all NHL netminders. After returning from All-Star weekend in St. Louis, Markstrom closed out the month of January with an excellent 38-save performance against the Sharks. The workhorse goaltender made several impressive saves in the victory, but his best was a vintage-style stop on Kevin Labanc in the second period. The play started in the Sharks zone when Patrick Marleau made a nifty breakout play to spring a 2-on-1 for Joel Kellman and Labanc. Kellman quickly sent a cross-ice pass over to Labanc, but Markstrom came across and made a spectacular windmill pad save to deny him of a goal.

Video: VAN@SJS: Markstrom robs Labanc with insane stop

Best Milestone

Pearson scores 100th career goal vs. Coyotes (01/16/20)

Tanner Pearson continues to be a very valuable acquisition for the Canucks. The former King closed out the month of January with three goals in his last four games, including notching his 100th career goal at home against the Coyotes. The milestone tally came on an empty net after a great set up by Loui Eriksson, but it's an impressive feat nonetheless. Pearson has been a point-per-game player since mid-November and is on pace for the first 60-point season of his NHL career. He's hit the 15-goal mark in five consecutive season and is proving to be a consistent secondary scorer. On this same play against Arizona, blueliner Alex Edler picked up the secondary assist to surpass Dennis Kearns as the Canucks franchise leader in assists (291).

Video: ARI@VAN: Pearson scores empty-netter for 100th goal

Best Moment

Hughes, Markstrom and Pettersson participate in All-Star Weekend (01/24-25/20)

It was an eventful NHL All-Star weekend in St. Louis for three members of the Canucks. Elias Pettersson was invited to his second consecutive All-Star weekend, while Hughes and Jacob Markstrom each earned first-time invites. All three Canucks impressed in the skills competition on Friday and in the game on Saturday. Pettersson shocked many of his fellow competitors and fans alike when he unleashed a lethal 102.4 mph shot in the Hardest Shot competition. Markstrom made five consecutive saves in the Save Streak contest, while Hughes posted a solid time of 14.263 seconds in the Fastest Skater contest. All three players helped the Pacific Division team take down the Central and Atlantic Division to win the $1M cash prize. The highlight on Saturday came when Hughes pulled off the "Forsberg" move on Jordan Binnington and left coach Wayne Gretzky in awe.

Watch: Youtube Video

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