Canucks lose heartbreaker
Anaheim, Calif: Vancouver defeated in the final seconds of overtime after leading Anaheim 2-0 and 3-2
They could have easily leaned on a crutch of convenience Sunday, but there's no comfort in losing third-period leads and surrendering 49 shots in back-to-back setbacks. No matter what level of adversity strikes.
With Roberto Luongo injured Saturday in a crease collision with Dustin Brown and his status listed beyond a day-to-day ailment, the Vancouver Canucks had to sign 43-year-old former minor-league stopper Rob Laurie to a one-day professional tryout contract to back up Eddie Lack against the red-hot Anaheim Ducks. The Pacific Division leaders had yet to lose a game on home ice in regulation this season and had won 12 of their last 13 games.
That was only part of the drama in the Canucks' 4-3 overtime loss that was determined when Corey Perry slipped a shot through the pads of Lack with 1.3 seconds left. After all, Chris Higgins was sidelined by the flu, forward Benn Ferriero was recalled from the Utica Comets of the AHL and the top two lines were put in the Torts blender. Mike Santorelli with Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler between Tom Sestito and Zack Kassian with Sestito even getting power-play time. If that wasn't enough, Kassian was struck in the forehead by Sestito's skate boot when the winger went to check Hampus Lindholm in the second period. Amazingly, play continued at the other end of the rink without a whistle while a dazed Kassian was prone on the ice before leaving for treatment. He didn't return.
And as much as the Canucks can take some solace from collecting a point, the real point of the matter is the manner in which they try to cling to a possible victory instead of pushing to ensure a favourable result. Being outshot 49-20 Sunday was another sobering reminder.
"Giving up that many shots, it's not one or two things," said Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis. "It's a lot of collective things and aside from the actual details and specifics, a lot of it is a mindset, too."
Everything was in place for the Canucks to fall flat on their faces. Instead, Kesler and Henrik Sedin struck for first-period power-play goals, but the Canucks were then outshot 20-2 in the second period, where they surrendered goals to Saku Koivu and Matt Beleskey. And even when a floating Kevin Bieksa wrist shot from the point found the short side early in the third period, a failed clearing attempt led to a Nick Bonino slot shot skipping off a sprawling Bieksa and beating Lack to the stick side with 1:27 left to force overtime.
"The second period we were sitting back too much," said Canucks winger Daniel Sedin, who had a team-high four shots. "It happened in the second period in L.A., too. When we get the lead, we try to defend instead of keep going. It's all about our mindset and we're losing games because we're trying not to lose instead of playing to win. We have to learn from this."
When Kesler drilled a one-timer slapshot off a cross-ice feed from the Canucks captain and Henrik Sedin then put a puck off Cam Fowler with Sestito setting the screen - the Canucks seem invested in a game in which few gave them a chance. Not in facing the league's third-ranked offence sparked by Team Canada locks Ryan Getzlaf and Perry, who are in the top 10 NHL scoring and Sochi bound. Getzlaf, who didn't play in a 3-1 Nov. 10 triumph here over the Canucks due to injury, ranks third with 48 points (20-28), while Perry is now ninth with 44 points (23-21). And with the Canucks sitting back, the Ducks easily sprang to the attack.
"We have lost ourselves a little bit," admitted Canucks coach John Tortorella. "We're a little bit beat up and playing against a different level of team - especially the last couple of nights. We have some work to do, not just with the team but team defence. We have to take pressure off our defence. We're not holding on to pucks to establish ourselves with our forecheck."
The steadiness of Lack looked like it would pay off. Poised beyond his 26 years, the birthday boy didn't get rattled after Koivu tipped a second-period Jakob Silfverberg slapshot from the slot. He stopped Teemu Selanne and Getzlaf on a power play before being run over when Kyle Palmeri took a direct route to the net. Lack then robbed Perry and Beleskey in the third period. However, being outshot 20-5 in the third only proved again that it might be more than just a mindset and that depth of talent may be an issue in the division, where the Canucks are now 6-6-3.
"I thought that we should have come out with a win for sure and we gave away a point again," said Lack. "It's up to the team and me to turn this around and shut the door in the those last important minutes."
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