VANCOUVER — Brandon Sutter scored his first NHL hat trick, and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-1 in the opener of a three-game set at Rogers Arena on Monday.
Thatcher Demko made 35 saves for his first win of the season and Olli Juolevi, the No. 5 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, scored his first NHL goal for the Canucks (3-5-0), who won for the second time in their past seven games.
Sutter, a 31-year-old forward, entered the NHL in 2008-09 with the Carolina Hurricanes. The hat trick came in his 735th game.
“It only took me 13 years to get one,” he said. “I was pretty pumped. You never know if you’re going to get one as you get older.”
Austin Watson scored, and Matt Murray made 28 saves for the Senators (1-4-1), who have gone five straight without a victory (0-4-1).
The teams will play here again Wednesday and Thursday.
“We got some guys that maybe are taking for granted positions in the National Hockey League,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “We’ve got to find the right combination and we’ve got to give some other guys opportunity to see if they want to play a little harder than some of the guys that are playing now.”
Sutter scored on a backhand shot to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 9:31 of the first period. He made it 4-1 with a shorthanded goal at 17:44 of the second after Demko made a glove save against Artem Anisimov in the slot.
Sutter, who started the season as a right wing on the fourth line before moving up to center the third line for a 5-2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, completed the hat trick on a breakaway with 54 seconds left in the third period.
“Anytime someone scores a hat trick, it’s always a good feeling,” Travis Green said. “But obviously in this scenario, a guy that doesn’t get a lot of recognition for offense, you feel good for ‘Sutts.'”
Tyler Motte made it 2-0 at 14:08 of the first after a turnover by Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot in front of his own net.
Demko, who has alternated starts with Canucks goalie Braden Holtby, saved two breakaways before the end of the first period. He got enough of Chris Tierney‘s shot with his glove that it hit the crossbar at 17:07, then denied Connor Brown at 19:37.
“That was something I really wanted to focus on as I kept getting in the games here is timely saves,” Demko said. “Making sure that when they do get chances in situations like that, I can come up big and kind of give the team a chance to pull away even farther.”
Watson cut it to 2-1 with a screened deflection that hit Demko in the mask and bounced in at 11:58 of the second period, but Vancouver restored its two-goal lead 30 seconds later. Nils Hoglander chipped the puck into the Senators zone, then dove headfirst to sweep it across to Tanner Pearson to make it 3-1 at 12:28.
Smith said he considered pulling Murray after the second period for a second straight start. Murray allowed four goals on 26 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 21.
“Certainly he didn’t have a very good game, but he’s got to work through it and find a way to battle for us there,” Smith said. “He’s no different than any other player and he’s got to find his groove here.”
Quinn Hughes scored his first goal of the season on a rebound to give the Canucks a 5-1 lead at 12:12, and Juolevi scored at 15:50 on a screened point shot to make it 6-1.
“I just like that we stuck with our game,” Green said. “We didn’t waver. Sometimes if you get up 3-1, 4-1, sometimes you can take your foot off the gas.”
NOTES: It was the first NHL hat trick by a member of the Sutter family since March 17, 1990, when Brandon’s father, center Brent Sutter, scored three goals for the New York Islanders in their 6-3 win against the New York Rangers. Brent scored six hat tricks in his NHL career. … Senators rookie forward Tim Stutzle, the No.3 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, was minus-4 in 12:37 of ice time in his first game back after missing the previous three with an undisclosed injury. … Canucks forward Bo Horvat had two assists; he has eight points (four goals, four assists) during a four-game point streak.