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Canucks claim Pacific Division title after 4-1 win over Calgary Flames

Thatcher Demko makes 39 saves in return to Vancouver goal
Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) stops Calgary Flames’ Martin Pospisil, front left, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Thatcher Demko made 39 saves in his return from a knee injury and the host Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 on Tuesday to clinch the Pacific Division title.

Demko was injured in Vancouver’s 5-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on March 9 and missed 14 games.

The Canucks (50-22-9) got a goal and an assist from Tyler Myers, while Nils Hoglander, Dakota Joshua and J.T. Miller also scored.

Brayden Pachal replied for the Flames (37-39-5) midway through the third period and Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom stopped 27 of 31 shots.

It’s the first time Vancouver has finished as the top team in its division since 2013.

The Canucks are still chasing the Stars for the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference, but need a win over the Jets on Thursday and a Dallas loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday to accomplish the feat.

Miller sent a blast past Markstrom 15:02 into the third to seal the score at 4-1 with his 37th goal of the season.

The marker extended Miller’s point streak to 11 games, with four goals and 10 assists across the stretch.

Cheers of “J-T Mill-er!” rang throughout Rogers Arena after he scored.

Pachal beat Demko on Calgary’s 33rd shot of the night, sending a puck sailing through traffic and into the top corner of the net. The goal — Pachal’s second of the season — cut Calgary’s deficit to 3-1 at the 8:35 mark of the third period.

Canucks captain Quinn Hughes helped keep the Flames off the board about three minutes into the period when Jonathan Huberdeau’s shot from the side of the net went through the goalie’s pads and Hughes swept it off the goal line.

Tempers flared midway through the second when Hoglander shoved Pachal in the chest and Pachal snapped his head back in response.

A scrum erupted in front of the benches, including a skirmish between Vancouver’s Conor Garland — who stands five-foot-eight — and Calgary’s Adam Klapka — who’s listed at six-foot-eight — where Garland was nearly tossed into the Flames’ bench.

Garland and Klapka were both tossed from the game for roughing, and Hoglander was sent to the box for cross-checking.

Demko made one of his best saves of the night on the ensuing penalty kill, robbing Nazem Kadri in tight, then dropping and rolling on to his back to smother the rebound.

Earlier in the frame, the Canucks took a 3-0 lead when Joshua beat Markstrom stick side with a snap shot from inside the faceoff circle. The goal was the winger’s 18th of the season.

Hoglander registered his 24th of the campaign 13:28 into the first off a feed from Elias Pettersson.

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The star centre appeared poised to blast a shot on net, but made a quick pass to Hoglander across the top of the crease instead and Hoglander tapped it in past an out-of-position Markstrom to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

Vancouver got on the board with a short-handed tally 98 seconds earlier after Joshua was called for elbowing.

Teddy Blueger fed Myers with a cross-ice pass and the big defenceman skated into the Flames zone unmarked, then fired a shot past Markstrom from the high hash marks. His fifth goal of the season gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead at the 12-minute mark.


Both Calgary and Vancouver went 0-for-2 on the power play. … Flames defenceman Oliver Kylington played his 200th regular-season game. … Canucks defenceman Nikita Zadorov turned 29 on Tuesday.


Canucks: Wrap up the regular season Thursday by visiting the Winnipeg Jets.

Flames: Host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press