DENVER – As impressive as the Vancouver Canucks' last turn was on Wednesday to force a goal, the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 loss was another torpedo to the hull of their playoff hopes.
The good news is that if the National Hockey League team believed all analysts and forecasters predicted that, the Canucks would have given up long ago and would not compete as they did here, where they overcame a bad start against a rising rival. were rescued by goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom and came to a penalty shootout or save from victory.
Instead, after Canucks' Bo Horvat lost his chance to win it, and Avalanche's Mikko Rantanen extended the shootout to a scoring dike, Carl Soderberg defeated Colorado in the sixth round of the competition when his shot hit the glove. -in outside the Markstrom.
Markstrom, who was magnificent in a 43-save performance, also got a piece of the puck in the Rantanen goal as the Avalanche moved to the final spot of the wildcard playoff in the Western Conference, five points above in the Canucks.
Even before the loss, the Hockey Reference.com rated the playoffs chances of 7.8%. That's much less than the odds of three weeks ago, before the 3 to 6 loss to Vancouver. But it's about seven percentage points better than anyone imagined when this season began.
"Today was a good example, we never stopped," said Alex Biega of Canucks. "We just kept going. It was not the best we'd like to play in some areas, but we continue.
"Every point matters now We have another divisional opponent tonight in Arizona and we have to win It's just the bottom line On this trip we have to start running here It's a must win for us.
The Arizona Coyotes are two points clear of the Canucks in the playoff race, three behind the Avalanche, who is 5-0-1 in their last six games.
Canucks coach Travis Green did not mention his goalkeeper in Vancouver's second game in 24 hours, but reserve Thatcher Demko, who has not played since twisting his knee in the Philadelphia friendly on Feb. 4, has declared himself ready to play. start.
Markstrom, who was beaten in regulation time only in a long distance match of Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon – after soft plays within the blue line by riders Ryan Spooner and Markus Granlund – has played both sides of consecutive games four times this season.
He needed a little more help on Wednesday, but that's often the case with the Canucks.
Vancouver rebounded to a draw goal, with 3:02 remaining in regular time in a well-executed showdown. Josh Leivo knocked out Colorado quarterback Semyon Varlamov after Horvat had won, and Alex Biega and Spooner came on the pitch while Leivo turned to the firing line.
Think of the three guys who scored at the end of the third quarter of what was equivalent to a Vancouver playoff game: Leivo, claimed for Toronto waivers in December; Biega, a healthy risk for most of this season and playing just because top defenders Alex Edler and Chris Tanev are injured; and Spooner, a recovery project for minors that were purchased from Edmonton Oilers two weeks ago.
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"I've been here four games and I think the group knows we're a playoff team – we can be," Spooner said. "That said, the first period tonight killed us.We had some lazy pieces on the blue line, I had one of them.At this time of year, this may cost you and they kind of did tonight.But as a group , since I've been here, things have been very positive.
The Canucks were 17-8 in the first period, despite having six minutes of power play time. That weakness in their game cost them again on Wednesday when power play ended 0-for-5 while Avalanche went 1-for-3 with the extra player.
"It's the NHL and anything can happen in this championship," Canucks midfielder Nikolay Goldobin said after another strong game. "I know we're six or seven playoff points, but we have three wins in a row … we're back. We just need to keep working hard and get to that point."
"Everybody's right here," Leivo said. "We just need to keep coming."
The Canucks are still missing a few things. Determination is not one of them.