VANCOUVER (AP) — Canucks forward J.T. Miller only knew he was on the cusp of his 100th career goal because his parents wouldn’t let him forget.
“They’ve been putting pressure on me for about a week now so I told them to stop texting me,” he said.
Miller had two goals Monday night, including his 100th in the NHL, and Vancouver scored five times in the first period on its way to a 7-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Josh Leivo added a goal and an assist for the Canucks. Brandon Sutter, Tim Schaller, Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser also scored. Alex Edler and Elias Pettersson contributed three assists apiece.
The first goal of the game for the 26-year-old Miller marked a milestone, but it wasn’t something he was focused on.
“Honestly, you’re so wrapped up in the game that you’re not really paying attention,” Miller said. “It’s cool. Obviously I’m happy to do it. I’ve had a lot of help from other teammates along the way.”
Traded to Vancouver from Tampa Bay last June, the versatile forward has concentrated instead on making his mark with the Canucks (7-3-1). He came into training camp wanting to make a good impression and has excelled ever since.
Miller leads the team in goals with six and is second in points with 13.
“I think we’re doing a lot of good things right now and the team’s building a lot of confidence and I think that’s really important,” he said.
Miller’s line wasn’t the only one clicking for the Canucks. In fact, Boeser was the lone forward who didn’t have a point in the first 20 minutes.
Vancouver got on the board less than two minutes in and kept up offensive pressure that overwhelmed the Panthers much of the game.
“The first period was pretty good — scoring from everyone,” coach Travis Green said. “I thought we played a really direct period. Sometimes that’s mistaken for not being offensive, but I thought we supported the puck really well. We were on top of their defensemen in the first period, came out fast and hard.”
Thatcher Demko made his fourth start of the season and stopped 27 shots.
Brian Boyle and Mike Hoffman scored for Florida, but the loss snapped an eight-game point streak (4-0-4).
Coming off a 6-2 win Sunday over Edmonton, the Panthers had hoped to rest netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Sam Montembeault started between the pipes but was replaced early in the first after allowing three goals on nine shots.
Bobrovsky made four saves in 13:42 before the 22-year-old Montembeault returned for the second period. He made some impressive saves and finished with 26.
“Just wanted to change the momentum of the game and see what happened and it worked for about, what, a couple minutes?” Florida coach Joel Quenneville said.
Panthers center Aleksander Barkov said he and his teammates went from playing their best game of the season Sunday to their worst the following night.
“(The Canucks) played a perfect game,” he said. “We just need to move forward.”
Florida replaced Montembeault with Bobrovsky just 6:18 in after Virtanen’s third goal in three games gave Vancouver a 3-0 advantage.
Miller’s second goal put the Canucks up 6-2 with 29 seconds left in the second. Boeser got on the scoresheet 13:20 into the third, sending a wrist shot into the top right corner.
Pettersson got his third assist on the play. He has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his last four games.
There’s a lot of confidence in the Canucks’ dressing room these days, Pettersson said.
“We want to be a playoff team. We want to go deep in the playoffs,” Demko said. “And it’s just going to get harder as the season goes on. So just building that momentum now and riding it through the season.”
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