VANCOUVER – A poor penalty and a poor penalty have worsened what is quickly becoming a bad month for the Vancouver Canucks, who overcame the lead of the third period and lost 3-2 to Montreal Canadiens.
With five consecutive defeats following the surprising start of the National Hockey League, the Canucks may want to take the fall position. The Canadiens, however, may be fleeing after the seemingly return to top form of world caregiver Carey Price.
The Anahim Lake native, B.C., has stopped 36 of 38 pitches against the Canucks, making 18 saves in the third quarter alone, and allowed only four goals in 83 shots since returning from a "rest" of two games to work on his craft. Canadiens, another of NHL's first surprises, beat Calgary Flames 3-2 on Thursday and won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 17.
"It's definitely good to get some recovery wins," Price said after his first performance. "It's always fun to go back to B.C."
The Canucks would love even a recovery win these days. Unfortunately, it's the powerful Winnipeg jets that will visit the Rogers Arena on Monday.
A handful of injuries and an absurd schedule that has already led to Vancouver completing two six-game games and losing 14 games on the road – no other NHL team has played more than 11 away games before Saturday – seems to be knocking out the Canucks .
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But the rebuilding team is also not helping, losing a third period on Saturday for the third time in six games. The Canucks earned a two-goal advantage in Detroit and Buffalo last week, but at least it left the games with losing points.
They did not take anything from the good effort on Saturday, wasting a particularly strong performance from goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom.
Montreal's lucky goal at 11.41 in the third quarter was a Max Domi pass that jumped off the skateboard of fellow boss Andrew Shaw. But the winner of Jonathan Drouin, who beat Brendan Gallagher with just 2min44s, arrived eight seconds after Canuck defender Michael Del Zotto was penalized for taking newcomer Jesperi Kotkaniemi of Canadiens.
"I did not see the replay," Del Zotto said. "My reading on the ice is that it moves the disc and I finish my test like I do in any other game. Whether it's a border game or not, it's a 2-2 game with two minutes to play (and) it goes off a few times. I do not know what you call it.
But Canuck coach Travis Green said of the blow: "It was a bit late."
And even if it was an exit from Del Zotto, the Canucks should know that referees Brian Pochmara and Graham Skilliter could be trying to penalize Vancouver because it was a soft interference against Canadien Xavier Ouellet that led to Elias Pettersson's goal. who made the 2-1 to the home team at 10:09 p.m. of the last period.
Pettersson, the NHL rookie scoring leader, who had gone four games without a point, made an unstoppable overstack over Price's shoulder and broke the 1×1 tie.
Del Zotto and Canadien Tomas Tatar traded goals in the second period in a game that eventually reached the electrical atmosphere that the Habs visit always spawns in western Canada.
The teams combined 32 shots in the third quarter, in what was really a keeper's duel between Price and Markstrom, who looked more nervous in a game on Thursday when Richard Bachman of the second division was aired in the defeat of Canucks by 6-2. to the Minnesota Wild.
The Canucks played well enough on the road to open their 6-gamer by 4-0. Instead, the burned leads have turned into a pair of shooting losses and contributed to a 1-1-2 record. Vancouver has not been close in its last two road games against wild islanders and New Yorkers.
"It's a bit of a snowball effect now," Del Zotto said. "It looks like before we win those next games; now it seems like we're losing so many. We're losing a little confidence. But we have to stop this on Monday.
"We needed it," Canuck's Bo Horvat said of Saturday's game. "There is no coating of sugar. We wanted to win this hockey game. When you have a 2 to 1 lead missing 10 minutes, you need to find a way to do it. We know it was difficult (with the goal of drawing) to get off the guy's skateboard and enter. But you still need to find a way to get the job done or at least take advantage of it.
"It's not like we're playing bad hockey, it's just a matter of focusing on the key moments of the games and fighting the injuries we have, we just have to find a way to get the job done.
Or the Canucks will stop their fall this week, or will speed up their descent back to the bottom of the standings. After the Jets' game, the Canucks set off again for the road, playing three games in four nights in California.
"You are testing this group," defender Erik Gudbranson said of the series of defeats. "That's what a NHL season does. (But) beating up and throwing your confidence to win is not the right thing to do. We know we have the tools in this room to get out of it. That's when we really start to support ourselves and really start pushing ourselves. This will bring character into all of us. "