Canucks lay an egg against lowly Ducks
ANAHEIM, California — It was fun while it lasted, but it didn't last very long.
All those happy feelings and positive thoughts the Vancouver Canucks built during their California vacation were jeopardized Friday when players failed to make a good road trip great and lost 4-3 to the Anaheim Ducks.
A formidable third-period charge couldn't undo the damage of the previous period.
The Canucks couldn't be as bad as they looked in the middle period, when they surrendered four goals, and they're probably not as good as they looked in the final 20 minutes when they outscored a nervy, struggling Ducks team 3-0.
The Canucks are somewhere in between. That's where they are in the standings, too.
After impressive wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, separated by three days of positive practices and team-building, the Canucks gave themselves a chance to return home with four wins from a six-game trip and two games above .500 for the first time this National Hockey League season.
Then the Canucks gave themselves no chance in the middle period against a Ducks' team that had one win in its previous 10 games, was averaging a league-low 1.87 goals per game and had scored one or fewer goals seven times in 15 games.
Vancouver failed to capitalize on some early chances, surrendered a lousy goal at the start of the second period and seemingly fell out of it when Canuck defenceman Aaron Rome's reckless cross-ice charge at Devante Smith-Kelly earned him a major elbowing penalty, game misconduct and a likely suspension for a head shot.
Ducks Andrew Cogliano and Corey Perry scored on the five-minute power play, which began at 11:04, and Anaheim got another goal from rookie Peter Holland at 17:22 to complete the four-goal, second-period surge.
Unlike some of the other dismal nights during their Stanley Cup final hangover, the Canucks were invested emotionally. But they must have left their brains up Interstate 5 in Los Angeles because their defending on the goals was atrocious.
Cogliano and Saku Koivu, second-liners who had managed two goals in 15 games between them, led the Anaheim attack. And, yes, that was an indictment on Vancouver defending.
The second-guessing of coach Alain Vigneault's decision to start Roberto Luongo a second straight night — and fourth game in a row — could be heard all the way from Vancouver. Actually, it was audible in the building, too, as there were at least 3,000 Canuck fans at the Honda Center.
After four solid performances, Luongo should have watched Cory Schneider play Friday, satisfied with his work week and savoring his renewed self-confidence. It also would have allowed the goodwill to percolate a little longer back home.
But Vigneault wanted to keep Luongo's roll going. Luongo made a couple of excellent saves, but none during Rome's penalty when the goaltender was the proverbial cork on a current, incapable of changing the flow of the game.
The way teammates were playing in the Canuck zone, the goalie probably didn't matter. Except Luongo has now lost those good vibes like everyone everyone else. He may even be worse than others because Luongo was on the bench in the third when the Canucks put the Ducks under siege and nearly stole the game.
Jannik Hansen, re-elevated to the first line despite Alex Burrows' return from back spasms, scored twice, bringing the Canucks within a goal at 13:04 of the third period. Kevin Bieksa started the comeback with a power-play goal at 4:32.
Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller made a game-saving rebound save on Ryan Kesler in the final minute.
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