Canucks go down in Flames, suffer fourth straight 5-2 loss

 

 
 
 
 
Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames faces-off against Adam Cracknell #24 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
 
 

Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames faces-off against Adam Cracknell #24 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Photograph by: Derek Leung, Getty Images

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CALGARY - So much for the road being their friend.

The Vancouver Canucks proved they can lose anywhere Friday night, dropping a 5-2 decision to the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

If that score sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The loss was Vancouver’s fourth straight and came after three straight 5-2 defeats at home. You almost have to admire their consistency.

Meanwhile, their free-fall doesn’t bother an increasing number of their fans, who clearly care more about a top-five draft pick than wins at this point of what is becoming a lost season. You an almost hear them chanting ‘tank you very much’ after each loss.

Following their recent struggles at home -- where they have lost six straight -- the Canucks hoped to rebound on the road, where they have played their best hockey this season.

No such luck, although they did lead 2-1 after the first period.

The game was lost in the second period when the Flames outshot the Canucks 19-8 and scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead into the third period.

The Canucks dressing room, as you can imagine, is getting to be a rather sombre place. You could see the frustration on captain Henrik Sedin’s face and hear it in his voice.

“I think we have to realize that this is where we are,” Sedin said. “We are in for a tough stretch here, there’s no doubt about that. We are missing key guys, like we have all year, and it feels like it’s just a grind out there. There’s no easy plays, nothing comes easy for us right now.

“We just have to try and keep working and somehow get out of this. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to come by itself. It’s tough right now, but we have to try and keep our heads high.”

Goals have been tough to come by for the Canucks all season, but now it is their defensive game that is a mess. They are giving up a ton of even-strength goals -- five of them Friday night.

“That can’t happen,” Sedin said. “With the team that we have, we have to be in these games. When you score two (first-period) goals, there’s no way you should be down two or three goals going into the third. That’s not the team that we have, but that’s the way we have been playing. It is far from good enough.”

Goalie Jacob Markstrom lost his second straight start and was the victim of some bad bounces and shoddy defensive play in front of him. He also let a couple of pucks by him he probably should have stopped.

“It’s really frustrating,” Markstrom said. “I feel like we are starting games a lot better, but the end result is the same. . .we can’t let the negativity take over. You’ve got to stick together as a team. We are all in the same boat. Nobody wants to be in this boat, but the reality is we’re all in it and we have to find a way to get out of it.”

Mikael Backlund tied the game 2-2 at 2:07 of the second, beating a couple of Canucks to a bouncing puck in front of Markstrom. Three minutes after that, the Flames grabbed the lead for good. A weak Michael Frolik backhander from long range bounced off the skate of Vancouver defenceman Matt Bartkowski and past Markstrom. The Flames scored their first three goals of the game on just 11 shots.

Defenceman Mark Giordano made it 4-2 at 19:35 of the second with his 14th goal of the season.

Josh Jooris got behind Bartkowski to tip a Lance Bouma pass past Markstrom at 3:01 of the third and make it 5-2.

The first period ended much better than it began for the Canucks. Calgary scored on its first shot of the game at the 1:41 mark when Joe Colborne took a drop pass from Backlund and beat Markstrom stick side from the slot.

Adam Cracknell tied the game midway through the first and rookie Jake Virtanen’s fourth of the season gave the Canucks the lead at 15:47 of the first.

There weren’t many other highlights from a Canuck perspective. Coach Willie Desjardins insisted lack of effort is not the problem.

“I think a fragile team quits,” he said. “I don’t think we quit.”

THE SKINNY

A promising start disintegrated in the second period for the Canucks, who saw a 2-1 lead disappear after three unanswered Calgary goals in the second period. Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Mark Giordano and Josh Jooris scored for the Flames, who handed Vancouver its fourth straight defeat. Adam Cracknell and rookie Jake Virtanen replied for the Canucks, who fell to 22-24-12 on the season. Calgary had a 33-28 edge in shots.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Canucks made some history Friday night. Sportsnet reported after the game that no other NHL team has ever lost four straight games by the identical 5-2 score. . .Radim Vrbata was minus-2 and is now a league-worst minus-32 on the season. . .The Canucks had what was was, for them, a decent night in the faceoff circle. They were 32-33. Rookie Jared McCann was 8-5.

THIS AND THAT

Rookie Jared McCann returned to the lineup after sitting out Thursday night’s loss to the Anaheim Ducks. He replaced Linden Vey in the Vancouver lineup. Defenceman Yannick Weber and forward Alex Friesen were the other Vancouver scratches. . .Sven Baertschi had a team-high four shots and managed to finish plus-1 on the night. . .Calgary defenceman Mark Giordano now has 14 goals, which is exactly how many the entire Vancouver defence has scored this season.

QUOTABLE

“I think they (the players) know where we are at and the situation we are in. I think we have to find ways to be better. Every game, it seems like a little breakdown here or there and we can’t afford it right now. It’s tough to play that kind of perfect game. We’re putting ourselves in trouble by making the odd mistake here and there.” -- Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins after the game.

WHO’S NEXT

The Canucks chartered home after the game and play host to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night at Rogers Arena. This will be the second of three meetings with the Avalanche this season and is the start of a five-game homestand for Vancouver. The Canucks beat the Avs 3-1 in Denver on Feb. 9. Matt Bartkowski, Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat scored for Vancouver in that game. Colorado makes another visit to Vancouver on March 16.

bziemer@vancouversun.com

twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames faces-off against Adam Cracknell #24 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
 

Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames faces-off against Adam Cracknell #24 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Photograph by: Derek Leung, Getty Images

 
Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames faces-off against Adam Cracknell #24 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Calgary Flames’ Mark Giordano, left, Matt Stajan, centre, and Joe Colborne celebrate Michael Frolik’s, not shown, goal against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016.
Vancouver Canucks’ Jannik Hansen, right, from Denmark, battles for the puck with Calgary Flames’ TJ Brodie during first period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016.
Adam Cracknell #24 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with his teammates after scoring against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Jiri Hudler #24 of the Calgary Flames fights Chris Tanev #8 of the Vancouver Canucks for the puck during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Dougie Hamilton #27 of the Calgary Flames gets checked by Chris Tanev #8 of the Vancouver Canucks and flies into the net during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
T.J. Brodie #7 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck as Emerson Etem #26 of the Vancouver Canucks defends during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Jake Virtanen #18 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Chris Tanev #8 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck past Josh Jooris #16 of the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks’ Radim Vrbata, left, from Czech Republic, collides with Calgary Flames’ Joe Colborne during first period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016.
Vancouver Canucks’ Adam Cracknell, right, is knocked off his skates by Calgary Flames’ Lance Bouma during second period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016.
Joe Colborne #8 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Vancouver Canucks watches a shot from the Calgary Flames fly past him during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Adam Cracknell #24 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with his teammates after scoring against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Joe Colborne #8 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck past Alex Biega #55 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks' Dan Hamhuis (2) is knocked down by Calgary Flames' Sam Bennett during first period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Vancouver Canucks' Alex Biega (55) is tied up by Calgary Flames' Joe Colborne during second period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Michael Frolik #67 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks' Adam Cracknell, right, collides with Calgary Flames' Tyler Wotherspoon during second period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a save on the shot of Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 19, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks' Jannik Hansen, left, from Denmark, celebrates teammate Adam Cracknell's, not shown, goal against Calgary Flames' goalie Jonas Hiller, from Switzerland, during first period NHL action in Calgary, Alta., Friday Feb. 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
 
 
 
 
 
 
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